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Five Minutes With… Jukka Kantola

Jukka Kantola is the founder of the World BioEconomy Forum. He has been known as an advocate for the circular bioeconomy for years, and as result he and his colleagues set up the World BioEconomy Forum in 2018. The Forum has solidified its position as one of the major platforms on the circular bioeconomy, with the Forum 2021 being taken to Brazil – World BioEconomy Forum goes to Brazil – live from Belém! 18 – 20 October 2021. We are excited to hear Jukka's thoughts on the upcoming Forum.

Can you tell us why you set up the World BioEconomy Forum four years ago?  

Firstly, there needs to be a global platform where circular bioeconomy stakeholders can get together exchange their ideas, and discuss lessons learned when operating in the sector. In 2018 there was no such platform available, so we decided to create one ourselves. Things moved fast; already that same year – in autumn 2018 – we organized the first Forum in Ruka, Finland.

Secondly, we thought that there is no one fit all bioeconomy – instead there are regional bioeconomies always based on their own strengths. Our idea was to showcase multiple bioeconomies and the kind of ecosystems they operate with.

Thirdly. We are learning from each other. As a Forum we are providing a platform for circular bioeconomy stakeholders to join in for Hard talk – but with a relaxed environment.  So, we are not teaching, but learning from each other. These lessons are then captured to form an annual declaration as we will also do this year at the conclusion of our event in Brazil this year. We have organized our platform into four pillars, which we repeat in our programs and in our all our activities.  With these pillars – or focus areas – we are speaking to various stakeholder groups in their own language. The four pillars are:

  • The BioEconomy: People Planet, Policies
  • Global Leaders and the Financial World
  • Bioproducts around us
  • Looking to the Future

 

And finally. We have a very important mission; by facilitating a circular bioeconomy across the globe we are contributing to the mitigation of climate change.

 

What progress you have made when it comes to the circular bioeconomy? How has the platform developed for stakeholders and what other initiatives or products are now available from the Forum? 

I think we have already made quite a journey in this sector and the World BioEconomy Forum has now become a major global platform for the circular bioeconomy. I do not actually do know of any other companies or entities carrying out activities in the comprehensive way we are. 

By our activities we have enabled the concept of a circular bioeconomy to become more tangible and comprehensive. With the four-pillar structure, we speak the language of all the various stakeholders of circular bioeconomy.

Again, this year our Forum is attracting speakers and panelists from all over the world representing major fields of the circular bioeconomy, with over 60 high-profile speakers confirmed.

When it comes new initiatives and products, we’ve been quite innovative, introducing a number of features specifically for circular bioeconomy stakeholders: 

  • World BioEconomy Roundtables where we focus on one specific Forum pillar for each session. The next Roundtable will be held in September, and it will be broadcast live from Belém focusing on Brazil and Amazon bioeconomies.
  • We have created a membership program: The World BioEconomy Circle, where members can go even deeper into discussions on various topics within a safe environment. We are holding these events according to Chatham House rules.
  • Also, we are keeping stakeholders informed on the latest happenings in the circular bioeconomy via the World BioEconomy News This means that wherever stakeholders are in the world, they can now receive the latest, breaking world bioeconomy news on smart phones.
  • In addition, we have launched an online store called the World BioEconomy Shop, where showcases of bio-based products or services can be displayed.
  • To increase awareness of bio-based products and services we have also introduced world Bioproduct day which was held on 7 July and from now on it will be repeated year after year.

 

The Brazilian event in October is the Forum’s first departure from the northern hemisphere. Why did you choose Brazil to hold the next Forum, and what expectations do you have of the event?

Indeed, for the first time the World BioEconomy Forum will be held in the Global South. This is well in line with our strategy where we are stating that there is no one-fit-all bioeconomy but regional bioeconomies based on their own strengths. What would be better way to show-case this statement than having annual forum in various locations around the world?  

Our basic plan going into the future is to vary the annual Forums between Global North and Global South.

We all know the importance of the Amazon region for the globe and Belém is known as the gateway to the Amazon. This year Belém will also be a gateway for the global bioeconomy.

We are expecting Belém to be focal point of the circular bioeconomy in October. We will again hear about the latest developments in this sector from various stakeholder groups, and in particular we will learn about the special features of the tropical zone in relation to the global bioeconomy.

The whole team at the World BioEconomy Forum are very excited about our event to be held in Belém in October. A big thanks goes out to the government of the state of Pará for hosting what will be a fantastic Forum, and we are very much looking forward to experiencing some quality time in what is undoubtedly one of the world’s most important regions for the bioeconomy. 

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