The fossil-based global economy is riddled with inequalities of various kinds. Consequently, there is a growing global interest in nurturing an alternative bioeconomy-based global system. Transitions to bioeconomy, by definition, implies transition to economy and development based on biological resources. While bioeconomy provides many opportunities, it also poses challenges and risks. The EU level of self-sufficiency in bioresources continues to decrease and, while the US and Canada remain Europe’s major providers of biomass, the share of African and Asian biomass markets in Europe is growing steadily. EU’s increasing biomass imports may cause additional natural resource degradation, biodiversity loss, climate-related risks, and competition between food production and bioenergy. These risks call for a need to assess environmental, societal, and climate-related justice implications of the growing bioeconomy in the global context. We call for contributions dealing with procedural and distributional, as well as climate-related justice dimensions associated with the political momentum for a shift to bioeconomy in the ‘Global North’. Contributions from various geographical regions are welcome. However, highlighting the current momentum of, and a renewed interest in, strengthening cooperation, partnerships and financing for sustainable development in Africa by the EU and Finland, we appreciate contributions related to EU and Finnish development interventions in African countries. Underpinning this panel theme is the tension between the concept of ‘just transition’ and the postcolonial notion of ‘just sustainabilities’ developed by Julian Agyeman, stressing a just transformation in which multiple paths for sustainability are recognised and encouraged. Topics may relate to bioeconomy governance and the questions of representation (i.e. who influences decisions-making and implementation), recognition (i.e. how people’s identities, heritage and histories are respected in the environmental policy and implementation), and distribution (i.e. distribution of opportunities and risks, not only of economic nature, but also related to rights and responsibilities). Contributions on other aspects of environmental justice, such as climate justice, are very welcome too. Outstanding papers may be selected as part of a proposal for a special issue. Abstracts (max. 250 words) should be emailed to the first panel chair.
Chaired by Sabaheta Ramcilovic-Suominen (Natural Resources Institute Finland, Luke), email@example.com and Pia Katila (Natural Resources Institute Finland, Luke)
Amos Taylor (Finland Futures Research Centre/University of Turku), Sofi Kurki (Finland Futures Research Centre/University of Turku) and Nicolas Balcom Raleigh (Finland Futures Research Centre/University of Turku)
Engaging Futures of Decision Making for a ‘Good’ Bioeconomy: Reflections on a Delphi Study
The bioeconomy can be interpreted as an open, diverse and changeable concept that spans multiple converging sectors. Each of these interpretations produce new meanings beyond the mainstream industry-oriented interpretation. These meanings describe new societal and regionally specific formulations of bioeconomy. These emerging and competing future perspectives or worldviews express core values that suggest what a ‘good or ‘bad’ bioeconomy might be. These multiple worldview perspectives compound decision-making in different ways along the triangulation of value relationships between human, nature and technology roles. Questioning the ethics of decision-making in this realm requires new approaches that would allow engagement of alternative voices and uncharted alternative futures. The Delphi study conducted by the Bioeconomy and Justice project (University of Turku) is presented in order to reveal the interplay between different worldviews. This is revealed by first exploring the explicit assumptions of a desirable or undesirable future state and then the ways in which to engage provocative and problematic situations that reveal contrasting views. Combined these lines of inquiry attempt to reveal the nature of the complexity of decision making in the context of competing futures and worldviews. These lines of inquiry shed light on the role of decision making and ethics in the context of transitions and transformations, where the future is closed by certain political choices, or opened by other value-based economic rationales.
Eija Meriläinen (Hanken School of Economics) and Mattias Sandberg (University of Gothenburg)
Climate change related hazards and (alternative) forest regimes: focus on rights to/of the forest in Northern Sweden
Forests and forestry are arguably in the heart of Swedish identity and a cornerstone in the wealth building of the nation during the last century. However, climate change and related hazards are challenging the notion of the forest as a resource under human control, and for instance forest fires are becoming more frequent and devastating in the Nordic countries. The dominating forest production regime, largely comprised of monocultures of conifers, further increases the vulnerability of forest landscapes. Hazards such as forest fires are threating livelihoods and wellbeing, particularly in the ‘peripheral’ parts of Sweden. Especially in the north of Sweden, revenues and trust in state and privately owned forest companies are also at stake when a forest fires unravel. Disasters following large scale forest fires may serve to (re)politicize the already contested land use debates across different scales of governance, acting potentially as ‘tipping points’ (Pelling & Dill, 2010) that shift the balance of existing land use regimes. The question remains, what kind of (alternative) forest regimes are proposed, leveraged and implemented after forest fires. Particularly we will focus on how the people’s rights to forest, and rights of the forests, are present in these forest regimes, as well as whether the presented regimes are aligned with the aspirations to address climate change. The rights perspective helps to make visible and challenge the (in)just dynamics of different regimes. We focus on the Norrbotten region in Sweden, where several forest fires erupted across a vast region during the Summer of 2018. This paper is based on a pilot study.
Matti Salo (Natural Resources Institute Finland, Luke), Jennifer Bailey María José Martínez (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile), Sabaheta Ramcilovic-Suominen (Natural Resources Institute Finland, Luke) and Kristina Svels (Natural Resources Institute Finland, Luke)
Blue Justice under the surface: blue bioeconomies and fish farming in Chile, Finland and Norway
Bioeconomy is a political and economic project that proposes a transition to a model of sustainable growth based on renewable resources. In this paper we focus on blue bioeconomy, or bioeconomy of marine spaces and fish production. Sustainable food production is at the heart of the blue bioeconomy development: how to feed the growing global population without undermining other values embodied in the marine food producing socio-ecological systems. Transitions to blue bioeconomy in the context of climate emergencies and resource scarcity, as well as actors’ competing needs and their different degrees of responsibilities and vulnerabilities, call an attention to the questions of justice, equality, participation and recognition. However, the current bioeconomy research, including that of blue bioeconomy, is dominated by the techno-scientific and economic questions of the commodity production. In the context of the growing blue bioeconomy, and the strong political will to intensify farmed fish production globally, we hypothesize that such intensification may cause tensions, conflicts and trade-offs. These may occur between key policy and sustainability goals on the one hand, and between different’ societal groups needs and values on the other. Finally, more privileged and dominating societal groups are likely to benefit from bioeocnomy transitions, while more marginalized groups may suffer the burden. First we theorize the blue justice concept in the context of blue bioeconomy and the marine governance system, emphasizing the potentials it offers for studying the emerging trade-offs and lock-inns among different sustainability dimensions and the different needs and interests. Second, using this theoretical framing of blue justice, we explore the often neglected socio-ecological trade-offs of fish farming as occurring in the emerging blue bioeconomies in Chile, Finland and Norway.
Sophie Rose Lewis (The University of British Columbia, tentative in case internet connections are enabled)
The production of inequality and poverty among ethnic minority communities in Thailand and implications for the emerging bioeconomy
Grounded through the perceptions that Thailand is rich in natural resources, the development of a bioresource-based economy has become central to the strategic development of the Government of Thailand, for which crops and forest products are intended to play a central role. However, the system of forest landscape governance that has developed in Thailand is driven by and further drives the production of inequalities. This paper traces policy origins and interests in the bioeconomy in Thailand and outlines the risks of inequality under the current system of forest landscape governance. Resource and wealth accumulation within the forest landscape has been driven through the associations between state actors with large agricultural businesses and mafia-type gangs. This accumulation is at the detriment of and is structured through the racial oppression of ethnic communities in northern Thailand, which has resulted in labour abuses, poverty creation and their systematic dispossession from land and resources. These said labour abuses include a cycle of debt created from an over-reliance on cash crops produced through government policies, the supply chain model of large agricultural-based businesses whereby they work through middlemen rather than direct contracts with farmers, compounded by the lack of secure resource and tenure rights. These indebted farmers, to pay for their debt or gain additional income, occasionally engage in the harvesting of luxury timber species for timber smuggling gangs who, in turn, increasingly pay for their labourers in the form of amphetamines which leads to addiction and further related issues within the communities. The bioeconomy is promoted through the economic development policy Thailand 4.0, the National Biotechnology Policy Framework (2012-2021), National BioPlastic Roadmap (2008), Alternative Energy and Development Plan (2012-2021) and the Biodiversity-Based Economy Development Office (under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment).
Sabaheta Ramcilovic-Suominen (Natural Resources Institute Finland, Luke) and Juha Hiedanpää (Natural Resources Institute Finland, Luke)
Justice in Bioeconomy: Global and Finnish context
In this paper we pose the question of what Environmental Justice means in the context of bioeconomy and why it matters in the same. We first outline the three-dimensional environmental justice framework. Second, we present the state of the art of bioeconomy policy development at the global level and as it revolves in Finland. At the global level, we highlight the importance of addressing different institutional setups, national histories, development pathways, and the different societal needs and vulnerabilities across and within different countries/world regions. The self-sufficiency and sustainable resource extraction in these countries/world regions and the new and existing threats such as biopiracy, food insecurity and various resource and interest conflicts are outlined. We downscale our critical analysis to Finnish Arctic, one of the hotspots of global bioeconomy, and analyze the significance of the competing institutional realities, histories, interests and values, and identities. By drawing from global and national findings, we discuss the main challenges in bioeconomy transitions in Finland and beyond. We finally propose a research agenda for studying environmental justice in bioeconomy in the Finnish Arctic.