Bioeconomy forum in Vidzeme, Latvia

April 3, 2019 | Latvian Food Bioeconomy cluster

In March 2019, Vidzeme Planning Region together with Institute for Environmental Solutions organised international bioeconomy innovation forum in Cēsis, gathering more than 100 participants from Latvia and abroad, and thus beginning the journey towards the development of knowledge-driven bioeconomy innovation system in Vidzeme region.

Bioeconomy is the use of natural resources in goods and services, and replacing resources that do not renew and gradually disappear. Although bioeconomy is closely related to the threat caused by the climate change, at the same time it is distinguished as a new field of economy.

In Latvia bioeconomy is defined as one of the national smart specialisation domains. It has also been identified as a field of undoubted development growth potential for Vidzeme region, therefore bioeconomy has been assigned the role of a driving force for the regional development.

Vidzeme region has large forest resources, however bioeconomy covers many fields – food production, agriculture, forestry and wood industry, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, energetics and energy efficiency, construction, information and communications technologies (ICT), health sector, etc.

Lene Lange, Director of research and consultancy company “LLA-Bioeconomy”, Professor, member of the Nordic Bioeconomy Panel (Denmark), speaker on Vidzeme bioeconomy forum emphasises: “The amount of by-products is very high in the food processing and production process. They are not used, but the potential is incredibly high. The products to be obtained are not only of high nutritional value, but also of great taste potential”.

Arne Rørå, CEO of Norskog Group, shared his 25-year experience in forestry at the Bioeconomy Forum in Cēsis. Mr Rørå had been responsible for the Norwegian national forest inventory and had represented Norway in several international programmes related to forest inventory and the monitoring of the impact of air pollution on forest. Since 2001 expert has often visited Latvia and concluded that forest potential is not being fully utilized here. Arne Rørå points out: “Latvia has very high soil quality. Observations show that Latvia's State Forests are doing great managing forests in Latvia, while the private sector knowledge should be increased and they should be better informed about how to do it more efficiently, while at the same time gaining greater added value from the resource. Forests in Latvia are still too sparse and there are many areas overgrown with shrubs – this is a waste of resources.”

The expert claims that with one euro invested in the forest, the investment in the value chain pays off 10 times, while recalling that we should not forget about nature conservation.

Lene Rachel Andersen, economy expert and futurist from Denmark is convinced: “In order to be able to ensure the sustainability of nature and the environment, we must first change the way of thinking, because we are still thinking from the point of view of the industrial paradigm - the cheaper, the better. It's time to broaden our horizons.”

Dr.Andrea Primavera, one of the leading medicinal herb researchers in Italy, who is currently actively involved in projects not only abroad, but also here in Vidzeme, at Institute of Environmental Solutions, warns:

“Climate change can be dangerous in a system where some plants feed the whole world. It is worth returning to local, traditional foods and discovering new qualities for them. Agriculture is biodiversity-rich, so we can protect the planet by taking full advantage of it.”

We invite you to watch >> video << about forum “Bioeconomy - Opportunities for Innovation”, where invited national and foreign bioeconomy experts give their insights and observations about the potential, topicality and importance of the industry.

The organizers of the event also confirm that such inspiring activities devoted to the development of bioeconomy in Vidzeme will continue in the future, the closest planned in autumn 2019.

Photography: Roberts Āboltiņš

Video: multimedia studio “Golden Hour”

Additional information about the project:

Project “Rural RDI milieus in transition towards smart Bioeconomy Clusters and Innovation Ecosystems” is implemented by Vidzeme Planning Region in co-operation with foundation “Institute of Environmental Solutions”, as well as partners from Norway, Finland, Estonia and Poland within Interreg Baltic Sea Region (BSR) Programme 2014-2020. (http://www.rdi2club.eu/), co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and Norway. It aims to support smart, sustainable and inclusive growth of the bioeconomy in rural BSR. This information reflects the views only of the author, and the European Union is not responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Additional information: Santa Niedola, “RDI2CluB” Project Manager, Vidzeme Planning Region, santa.niedola@vidzeme.lv, +371 26674261, www.vidzeme.lv

Media release created by: Anita Āboliņa, Communication Manager, Vidzeme Planning Region, anita.abolina@vidzeme.lv, +371 29454752