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The Basque Country presents its advances in the bio-economy for a greener future

2023 October 4
  • The Basque Government and the European Forest Institute, with the collaboration of the NEIKER technology centre, held the 2023 Bio-economy Innovation Day this morning to present the latest scientific advances and innovative solutions in the circular economy
  • The meeting, which has had some of the most outstanding European agents in bio-economy, has become a networking space for sharing success stories and promoting learning
  • This day is part of the Basque Government's strategy to promote the bio-economy in the territory and in the business fabric of the Basque Country to achieve more sustainable production

More than 54% of the surface area of the Basque Country is covered by green infrastructures of vital importance: forests. Sustainable forest management can help adapt forests to climate change, balancing the production of wood, non-wood products and ecosystem services.

In a scenario in which the bio-economy is gaining notoriety, the Basque Country is moving towards the ecological transition by promoting and developing different projects and initiatives related to that bio-economy and forestry research.

To present their latest developments, the Basque Government and the European Forest Institute (EFI), with the collaboration of the NEIKER technology centre, a member of the Basque Research and Technology Alliance (BRTA), held the Bio-economy Innovation Day 2023 in Bilbao.

The event focused on presenting the latest scientific advances and innovative solutions for different aspects of the forestry bio-economy such as examples of bio-construction, models for a more sustainable and functional forestry and knowledge of advanced bio-based materials. This sharing was done through a combination of keynote speeches, short, high-impact presentations on innovative concrete solutions, and time to network.

The event was attended by Bittor Oroz, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Policy of the Basque Government, who inaugurated the event, as well as the involvement of Ananya Manna, Director of Investments, European Circular Bio-economy Fund (ECBF), Leire Barañano, Director General of NEIKER and Vice-President of the Board of Directors of the EFI, a European reference organisation in forestry research, and Inazio Martínez de Arano, Coordinator of the Bio-regions Facility, among others.

During his speech at the opening of the event, Oroz wanted to highlight the importance of promoting projects that “allow transforming the economic model of the territory towards more sustainable production that guarantees the well-being of people and the planet. This day has allowed us to share with our European colleagues some of the most relevant projects that are being carried out in the Basque Country and that are making the territory emerge as one of the bio-economic centres of Europe.”

A European knowledge network

Networking was one of the highlights of the day. The event was attended by some of the main European actors in the field of bio-economy innovation from fields as diverse as research, forestry management, industry, business, finance, government and civil society.

In fact, during the conference some of the success stories in accelerating and supporting the bio-economy and sustainable forestry management in European regions such as Germany, Belgium or Ireland were shared. In the case of the Basque Country, the example of Enkarterri has been highlighted, an initiative presented by Peli Manterola, director ofHAZI, which is becoming a powerful hub of the bio-economy that integrates training, entrepreneurship and business activities.

Towards more sustainable production

The Basque Country has been working in the field of a circular economy for years. In fact, according to data from the Basque Government's Department for Economic Development, Sustainability and Environment, since 2000, the Basque economy has grown by 26%, while material consumption has decreased by 25% and the volume of urban waste sent to landfill has decreased by 56%. In this time of ecological transition, the economy of the region is decoupling itself from the consumption of materials and the generation of waste through different measures and projects such as those mentioned above to promote the circular economy.

In this context, in October 2022, the Basque Government approved the Circular Economy and Bio-economy Plan, an initiative aligned with the European Green Pact, which seeks to promote efficiency in the consumption of raw materials, reduce waste and optimize clean production. Among other challenges, this is a plan to increase material productivity by 30%, reduce the rate of waste generation by 10% and position the Basque Country among the leaders of Europe's circular economy.

This day is part of this strategy of the Basque Government to boost the bio-economy in the territory and in the business fabric of the Basque Country through projects, platforms and initiatives to transform the linear production model - based on the continuous and growing extraction of raw materials - into more sustainable production, which guarantees human well-being and the health of the planet and allows the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the UN.

 

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Politicians attending the event