Bioeconomy in maturation – A pathway towards a “good” bioeconomy or distorting silence on crucial matters?

Sofi Kurki*, Johanna Ahola-Launonen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


The bioeconomy as an emerging research field and policy framework has raised high expectations for enabling a shift to more sustainable practices. However, many of the solutions promoted under it have been heavily criticized for a lack of concern regarding the systemic effects in both environmental and social sustainability. In this article we analyse the differences between “1st round” bioeconomy policies and the revisions that have arisen from the critique (“2nd round bioeconomy policies”). We compare the two consecutive bioeconomy policy frameworks to views presented by a panel of Delphi experts. The experts elaborate on their views about a “good” and “bad” bioeconomy futures, with a long-range timeframe until 2075. The results indicate that the first round of bioeconomy policies contains many of the elements that the experts see as leading to an undesirable future. In contrast, the experts envisioned a “good” bioeconomy which would be based on a just and inclusive transition, a changed economic paradigm moving away from the focus on material growth, and a multitude of sustainable technologies, lifestyle changes, and balanced relations between business and politics. In the second round of bioeconomy policies, many of the issues addressed by the critique have been taken up, but problematic areas remain in the policies somewhat untouched. These include, amongst others, the question of biomass use for energy. We conclude that the bioeconomy finds itself now at an intersection between the old recommendations and novel, more inclusive goals. Are the expert panel’s views indicative of the directions where national-level policy implementation is taking the bioeconomy? If not, how will the bioeconomy policies resolve the most burning critiques in relation to the overreaching policy goals to combat climate change? We argue that what happens in the next phases of bioeconomy policy implementation process will be critical for the fate of the entire bioeconomy project.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBio#Futures: Foreseeing and Exploring the Bioeconomy
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-64969-2
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-64968-5
Publication statusPublished - 2021
MoE publication typeA3 Book section, Chapters in research books


  • bioeconomy
  • circular economy
  • EU policy
  • biomass
  • Delphi analysis
  • future imaginaries
  • technological expectations


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