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Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way
WEB MAGAZINE - September 2018

“Leaders of the revolution” – advancing the transition to the blue bioeconomy

The Nordic region has unique and abundant aquatic natural resources. Together with other primary resources, water will become an increasingly important asset in the Nordic society of the future, which involves a transformation from economic growth based on fossil fuels towards a sustainable and bio-based economy.

Water is a fundamental part of the bioeconomy and bioproduction value chains, for example in transportation, primary plant production and industrial processes, and for social well-being.

“The abundance of aquatic raw materials in oceans, lakes and rivers provides the Nordic countries with unique opportunities for biomass production and refining,” says Fiona Provan, leader of SUREAQUA, one of the Nordic Centres of Excellence under the Nordic Bioeconomy Programme funded by NordForsk.

The Nordic Programme on Bioeconomy gathers together over 100 partners representing research and development, industry, public bodies and environmental agencies seeking to advance the blue bioeconomy in the Nordic countries.

“I am the Ocean” – Bringing about change by engaging the future generation of leaders

The development of new knowledge is at the core of the Nordic Bioeconomy Programme, which started in 2017.

SUREAQUA is developing a communication strategy based on engagement to ensure the involvement of the private and public sectors, industry, NGOs and individuals. The Centre of Excellence has already been experimenting with methods to engage people by working with pupils in primary schools and students in higher education, but also with the public, scientists and policymakers.

“The reason you want to work with young people is that they have so much passion and energy, they really want to take action, and of course they will be the leaders of the revolution,” says Dr. Sam Dupont, coordinator of the Governance and Communications theme in SUREAQUA.

One of the workshops arranged by SUREAQUA was a project arranged with an artist, called ‘I am the Ocean’, where the students were first given information about the importance of the ocean. “We could see how the students became engaged but we went one step further, by helping them to identify and take concrete actions,”, explains Dupont.

Involving industry to bring about change

According to Sam Dupont, the key to successful and engaging communication is to trigger emotions. Art can play a role here, but it is not the only way. The important thing is to focus on what type of information is likely to stimulate change in each target group.

“We have a project on seafood that is based on that idea. Seafood plays a key role in Nordic culture and we showed that future environmental changes can impact the taste of food we love. This is a good entry point for talking about carbon dioxide, climate warming and making people change,” says Dupont.

“It’s really important to make the future generations more responsible than we have been, but on the other hand, we also have to work with all stakeholders, including industry and policymakers,” concludes Dupont.

SUREAQUA will engage with industry to bring about change. One of the industry partners, Skrekking, is developing fish feed that contains no fish meal or fish oil components – this will reduce CO2 emissions and pressure on wild fish stocks.

The Nordic Bioeconomy Programme under NordForsk will generate new knowledge on how to promote and advance the transition to a bio-based society in the Nordic countries, by integrating research, innovation and entrepreneurship in the private and public sectors.

The Programme gathers together over 100 partners representing research and development, industry, public bodies and environmental agencies seeking to promote the blue bioeconomy in the Nordic countries. The programme has a budget of approximately NOK 90 million, distributed among three Nordic Centres of Excellence (NCoE) launched in 2017.

Want to know more?

BIOWATER will quantify the effects of various scenarios on water, elemental cycles such as carbon and plant nutrient dynamics, and ecosystem services by using existing data from Nordic catchments.

NordAqua aims to pave the way for industrial applications of micro- and macroalgae in Nordic environments, by carrying out cutting-edge research on photosynthetic algae.

SUREAQUA will develop new solutions to extract food for animals and humans from raw materials found in saltwater and freshwater.


Photo: Anastasia Taioglou/Unsplash