Five Minutes With… Jyrki Kangas, Professor of Forest Bioeconomy, University of Eastern Finland

Jyrki Kangas
Dr. Jyrki Kangas is Professor of Forest Bioeconomy and Head of the School of Forest Sciences at the University of Eastern Finland. He was the CEO and Director General of Metsähallitus during 2007-2014, a State forest enterprise governing the state-owned lands and waters in Finland. Kangas has been awarded the Scientific Achievement Award by IUFRO and he has had plenty of national and international positions of trust; e.g., the Vice-President of EUSTAFOR, and the Chair of the Boards of Koli Forum and the Foundation for European Forest Research. Dr. Jyrki Kangas will be appearing on the Education panel at the World Bioeconomy Forum (WCBEF) virtual event to be broadcast live from Ruka, Finland on 10th September 2020. He spoke to the WCBEF about the importance of education to the future of circular bioeconomy.

How important is the subject of education to the future of the circular bioeconomy, and what can be done to make sure that young, bright people are attracted to the sector?    

Of course, this is of utmost importance to the sector. It is one of the key success factors for the circular bioeconomy (as it is for any other sector, too). However, the question of how to attract young, bright people to the sector is not an easy one. We must get them convinced that via the bioeconomy they can give their input for enhancing sustainable development and, thus, for saving mankind. We can advertise and promote our education opportunities, but even more important is what, and which kinds of prospects, we provide for people studying and working in the circular bioeconomy sector. It is important that people who already are in the sector find their studies and jobs interesting and meaningful, and that they let others – especially potential bioeconomy student candidates – know that.

Do you see the circular bioeconomy as having an important role in the post Covid-19 world?

The circular bioeconomy can remarkably contribute to recovering the economy, in particular in rural areas. The bioeconomy has an important role in providing opportunities to sustainable economic growth and to increased wellbeing. When promoting the economic recovery, it is important to direct efforts to investments in sustainable use of renewable natural resources instead of still increasing the use of fossil resources. The bioeconomy helps in making the change towards more sustainable future now (this a momentum for that), including climate warming mitigation.

The World Bioeconomy Forum has a diverse range of high-level speakers and panelists, what are you hoping to achieve by taking part in the event, and what are your hopes for the future of the circular bioeconomy? 

When thinking about just the Forum and my role there, as I currently come from the education sector, I personally expect fruitful conversations and useful conclusions on the role of education in the circular bioeconomy and on how to further develop education in the sector. I hope that people see how our future is in young people coming to study the bioeconomy at different levels from vocational to academic level (including doctoral studies), and that the Forum highlights this point of view. More generally, I hope that the Forum increases the awareness of the bioeconomy providing solutions, not problems, to the challenges of sustainable development and, for example, to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The Education Panel at the event will also include other representatives from some of the foremost universities around the world, like Sao Paulo, Kobe, and Cambridge, as well as Ahmed Fahmi, Chief of the Section of Innovation and Capacity Building, UNESCO. The Panel will be moderated by Mark Rudnicki, Professor of Practice Forest Biomaterials at Michigan Technological University and Advisory Board Member of WCBEF.

Five Minutes With… is a series of interviews being run by the WCBEF to highlight some of the high-level speakers and panellists taking part in the event this year. To view the whole full day programme and register for the event please visit

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