EU conference discusses ethical dimensions of transition into bio-economy

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-10 05:07:05|Editor: huaxia
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HELSINKI, July 9 (Xinhua) -- Social sustainability and justice in bio-economy were the leading themes as 350 bio-economy experts gathered in Helsinki on Tuesday. The Bio-economy Scene 2019 conference was organized by the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the European Commission.

Matti Hayry, Professor of Business Philosophy at Aalto University, suggested more transparency and public honesty about winners and losers. He underlined that the assumption of a "winning outcome to everyone" will not materialize.

"Almost all bio-economy solutions will benefit some people and disadvantage others," he said. "It is clear, for example, that meat producers will be harmed."

Hayry said that systemic analyses should indicate sectors or people who will be harmed and whether it could be compensated and whether it should be compensated. The analyses should also estimate whether the overall benefits outweigh the harms.

Hayry is currently involved in a three year project on the ethics of the transition, "Bio-economy and Justice".

The aim of the conference in Helsinki was given as "raising public awareness and promote dialogue on the progress towards a bio-economy".

Jyrki Katainen, Vice President of the current European Commission, believed that an intra-EU rift like on the emissions is not very likely on bio-economy and circular economy.

In June the European Union summit failed to reach agreement on emission cutbacks for the envisaged carbon neutrality in 2050.

Talking to the media, Katainen said circular economy may be easier to accept as "it keeps job creation running". But he added that it is also fair to mention that there can be different interests in circular economy. For example, there is a battle on who can have access to waste streams.

Katainen underlined that the regulatory environment has to make profits possible. "The idea is to shift market economy into a more sustainable direction," he summed up.

He said that humankind is facing "a multifaceted sustainability challenge to which there is no single quick fix", and repeated that the European Commission has adopted several measures, including the Circular Economy Action Plan and a comprehensive climate and energy package for 2030. Bio-economy has a central role in the decarbonization of economies.

Giovanni De Santi, Director at the Directorate for Sustainable Resources, European Commission's Joint Research Center, said at the press conference that the split on attitudes towards the emission cutbacks probably can also be attributed to communications. The envisaged requirements on emission cutbacks were given more like from the top downwards.

Jari Leppa, Finnish Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, said that solutions should be found that are based on the strengths of each member country. On that basis the countries will then develop their bio-economy strategies.

"In Finland, our strength lies in our extensive natural resources, especially forests that continue to be the cornerstone of our bio-economy," said Leppa.

Finland published its own national bio-economy strategy in 2014. Leppa described the Finnish bio-economy policy as successful. "The bio-economy sector's output has outpaced that of the national economy on average, and we have seen big bio-refinery investments realized in Finland." Enditem