The World Bioeconomy Forum Declaration 2021
Published on 20 October 2021 in Belém
Belém, capital of the State of Pará in the Brazilian Amazon, had the honour to host the World BioEconomy Forum on October 18 – 20, this year. It was the first time this important event took place outside of Finland. The session was made possible thanks to the commitment of the Government of the State of Pará and the World BioEconomy Forum. The Brazilian Association of Agribusiness (ABAG) and the Brazilian Tree Industry (Ibá) were partners in this endeavour.
The Forum provided a wide platform for an open, multi-faceted and pragmatic debate about the bioeconomy. This was enabled by the participation of a diverse group of keynote speakers, panellists, and others, including government officials, experts, academics, entrepreneurs, bankers, scientists and journalists from around the world, as well as representatives of civil society, indigenous peoples and local communities of the Amazon Region.
The discussions held in Belém highlighted that multilateralism is an essential political tool for fostering dialogue and cooperation among states and stakeholders to design strategies to address current challenges, based on the expansion of knowledge and advances in scientific research. Investment in research and development, both public and private, are essential to enhance sustainability, to harmonise human actions and the needs of nature.
This is a crucial time for mankind. The spread of COVID-19, in 2020 and 2021 has claimed more than 4.5 million lives worldwide (almost 600,000 thousand in Brazil alone). All participants at the event expressed their deep sorrow for the lives lost and their solidarity with individuals and families affected by the disease. COVID-19 also highlighted the vulnerabilities brought about by impact of human activities embodied in climate change, deforestation, loss of biodiversity and widening inequality, among other pressing global challenges. The pandemic further aggravated global financial imbalances, unemployment, hunger, lack of medical services and resources, particularly in developing countries.
Changing unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, enhancing solidarity and international cooperation are, therefore, urgent tasks, if the world should be set into a path of sustainability. The degradation of ecosystems has proven that natural resources are finite. Moreover, deforestation is one of the main reasons for zoonosis leading to pandemic diseases. Together with consistent measures for mitigation and adaptation to the consequences of climate change, also necessary will be innovative and effective financial arrangements and enhanced technological cooperation involving governments, investors, conservationists, indigenous peoples, local communities and academics.
At the opening ceremony of the Forum, the Governor of the State of Pará highlighted the importance of hosting the event in the Amazon Region. He called the attention to the participation of people from different origins and backgrounds, as well as indigenous peoples and traditional communities. This should contribute to initiatives and actions aiming at making bioeconomy a new tool for sustainable development in the Amazon. He recalled that Brazil is a key actor in climate and biodiversity global agendas and referred to the world attention towards the Region.
The Governor also stressed that the present challenge is to define how and what to do with forest assets when an intensive mobilization of capital may create new dynamics and expand sustainable business with increased value added products and services. The State Bioeconomy Strategy aims to support nature-based solutions, as well as to add macroeconomic value via research, development and innovation to generate and/or enhance products and social and organizational processes.
The Founder of the World Bioeconomy Forum expressed his gratitude to the State of Pará for hosting the event and to all who contributed to make this session take place in the Amazon. He recalled that there is no one fit all bioeconomy – instead there are multiple bioeconomies based on their own strengths. He also congratulated the Governor of the State of Pará for signing into law the State Bioeconomy Strategy.
The message of the Forum is that bioeconomy is a process that encompasses many perspectives. Bioeconomy is more than an economic sector; it synthesizes a set of ethical normative values on the relationship between society and nature and their consequences. It must respect the different social and economic circumstances of countries and regions. It is closely associated with efforts to combat climate change, which are already a driving force behind the future of the world economy. The development of bioeconomy and the value intrinsic to it go beyond its monetary, technological or statistical dimensions.
The ancient knowledge of indigenous peoples and traditional communities are also a critical source of cultural spiritual and material wealth. This is particularly prominent in the Amazon. Therefore, all endeavours must be made to ensure the protection and survival of those peoples and communities.
Bioeconomy can open new frontiers for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as for innovation and enhanced productivity in the economic use of biobased resources. Efforts to foster bioeconomy can be very important for the development of new medicines protect health. Strong support at all levels of government and by the private sector should be deployed to combat illegal deforestation and reforesting degraded areas. Environmental services provided by forests should be adequately paid with improved market access to forest products. In this regard benefit sharing can be viewed as an incentive in protecting forests. Bioeconomy can provide tools and responses to the challenges above, as well as for enhancing protection of critical ecosystems in view of the risks posed to food security, environmental services, and various biomes, with an impact on employment and well-being.
To enhance the global circular bioeconomy the World BioEconomy Forum invites action and commitment from various stakeholders. The statements below are based on the Four-Pillar Structure announced in Belém on 20 October 2021.
The Bioeconomy: People, Planet, Policies
1. Societies and governments are encouraged to strengthen the ongoing momentum in the worldwide development of circular bioeconomy strategies and relevant policies by concrete implementation of action and projects
- It was noted that biodiversity, health and socioeconomic aspects play a much stronger role in Latin America strategies compared to European and US ones. Costa Rica, Colombia and Uruguay have all recently published their own national bioeconomy strategies, with special priorities for health and biodiversity.
- All countries are encouraged to join in and develop their own bioeconomy strategies. In Brazil, the adoption of a State Strategy in Pará opens the path for other initiatives in view of the size and the diversity of the country. It could also serve as a useful precedent for other parts of the planet with tropical forests.
- The East African countries adopted a strategy that shall open enormous opportunities to benefit from the revolution on bioscience, given their rich biodiversity, and growing pool of talent among the youth – to use it to create sustainable bioeconomies.
- Bioeconomy can guide towards the regenerative use of the biotic, material, and
- energy resources on which we all depend. It provides immense opportunities for
- combating poverty and inequality through the sustainable use of forest biodiversity, not only in rural areas, but also in cities.
- Circular bioeconomy strategies and the sourcing of biomaterials need to take into account indigenous peoples’ and traditional communities’ rights and livelihoods.
2. Societies and governments are encouraged to activate and realize the potential contributions of biobased economies, which are becoming more and more evident
With a particular view to enable the achievement of SDG’s, the achievement of the climate goals of the Paris Agreement
- To enable green growth
- To optimise circular economies
- To assist in the urgent global economic recovery after Covid 19
- To assist in the development, definition and alignment within the framework of Net Zero Targets
Global Leaders and Financial World
3. We invite corporate leadership to strive for bio-based solutions
- Bioeconomy is important in the strategy to combat climate change. Therefore, it is essential to recognise and give a price to the benefits of bioeconomy. When these benefits are known and measured mobilizing funds will be easier. Bioeconomy can be a response to the fact that the value of the emission avoided today is bigger than the emission avoided tomorrow.
- New business models based on bio-based resources will advance economic, social and environmental transformation on which business success depends.
- Corporate roadmaps for ESG planning and climate neutrality to be supported and expanded by bioeconomy strategies.
- Business cannot achieve transition on its own. Cooperation throughout value chains is key for reaching out to the green economy.
- Communicate benefits of bio-based products from a senior level to inspire and encourage individuals to utilize these products as much as possible, enabling rapid change.
4. We encourage the financial world to value investments in the bioeconomy as a pivotal investment alternative
- Develop synergies between public, regional and private funds to accelerate financial flows in the bioeconomy.
- National recovery plans are opportunities to develop bioeconomy projects and activities, and demonstrate sustainable pathways to business.
- Develop tools to evaluate nature-based investments and determine value generation
- To recognise and quantify the financial implications if no sensible actions are taken on direct investments in the bioeconomy
Bioproducts around us
5. Public and private organisations need to combine afforestation and sustainable forest management with integrated biorefineries
- Strong afforestation and sustainable reforestation initiatives worldwide will provide a change into increased carbon capture and storage in wood.
- This will lead toward curbing climate change due to strong carbon capture and storage.
- This will support biodiversity and create a positive environmental impact including on water management
- Constructing new biorefineries or upgrading existing ones with the goal to utilize more than 95% of the harvested wood biomass will lead to job creation, rural development and a strong bio-based economy.
6. We need enhance and facilitate bio-based technology to deliver circular, sustainable products with a high functionality
- A circular approach to chemicals and materials made from wood/biomass-carbon will keep this carbon in a sink system via the materials in our daily use.
- This bio-based carbon stock will allow slow replacement of fossil-carbon into bio-carbon based materials.
- It will create safe, high- performance materials, providing health benefits and improved quality of life as well as high societal acceptance.
- To encourage and calibrate future technologies to continuously improve new applications for the bioeconomy
Looking to the Future
7. We ask for measures from public and private organisations to ensure tropical forests’ sustainability
- The productivity and biodiversity of tropical forests are unparalleled. Through responsible practices, a bioeconomy can be pivotal to sustaining the tropical forests, water resources and local communities.
- Traditional and indigenous knowledge has the potential to strengthen bioeconomy and rural prosperity in tropical regions and must be recognized, respected and protected. The indigenous peoples and communities, that are the holders of that knowledge should receive fair and equitable sharing of the benefits earned with their application.
8. We are enhancing and facilitating the bioeconomy to provide solutions for well-being and health
- Without enough healthy ecosystems, human well-being is not possible. Healthy ecosystems remain a source of medicines and prosperity.
- Nature based solutions to climate change are critical to create and maintain long-term sustainability.
The Four-Pillar Structure of the World BioEconomy Forum
The Forum strictly operates under the Four-Pillar Structure: I The Bioeconomy: People, Planet, Policies, II Global Leaders and the Financial World, III Bioproducts Around Us and IV Looking to the Future. Using the Four-Pillar Structure enables the complete evaluation of the status of the circular bioeconomy and thereby facilitates developments across the whole of the sector. This makes the Forum and its activities extremely powerful and effective, enabling the facilitating of a holistic bioeconomy and thus making significant conjoined efforts in the mitigation of climate change.
All Forum programs and activities are aligned with the Four-Pillar Structure, including all Roundtables and the annual Declaration. This four-pillar structure ensures that all relevant stakeholders in the circular bioeconomy have a voice and a platform.