Bioeconomy – for economic growth and sustainable use of natural resources

Speech at the Indo-Norwegian Joint Workshop about Bioeconomy.

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you all to Oslo and to this bioeconomy workshop that is jointly organized by The M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai in India and the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research and supported by the Research Council of Norway and the Department of Science and Technology, India.

As part of the world community, we are having challenging tasks ahead of us.  The increasing demands for food and other goods due to population growth and enhanced purchasing power and changes in lifestyles put pressures on our environment. The results are the depletion of many natural resources and climate change. In addition, we need to find other solutions to secure our needs for energy when the world's oil and gas production needs to be replaced with more climate friendly sources.

We need to preserve the natural resources for future generations. Therefore a bioeconomy is needed. The bioeconomy is based on renewable biological resources, is more environmental sustainability and reduces climatic change.

In order to succeed in developing a sustainable bio-based economy, research, knowledge and innovation are essential.

India and Norway have already a well-established relationship in this field. For several years, India and Norway have  shared knowledge and research interests with each other. In its newly published strategy, called Panorama, the Government of Norway, has a pronounced goal to increase the long-term cooperation with India in research and education. This workshop is an important part of the way to achieve this goal. Furthermore, India and Norway have an agreement in the Programme of Cooperation in research and technology and a Memorandum of Understanding concerning education.

India and Norway have different social, environmental and economic situations, and different approaches need to be developed. However, when the two countries together identify the most relevant thematic areas, I'm confident that our relationship will be of great mutual benefit and interest. I therefore welcome the contribution of this workshop for the development of the roadmap for the Indo-Norwegian cooperation on Bioeconomy.

Despite the differences between our countries, The M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation and the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research seem to be a perfect match. Agriculture, forestry, fisheries, aquaculture, energy and food production are important areas to both institutions, and all these sectors will play an instrumental role for the change to a more sustainable way of living.

A forward-looking environment and climate change policy is necessary, replacing fossil raw materials and high energy demanding materials with renewable biological resources to create a circular, resource-efficient economy.

The main task for the primary production sectors is the production of enough and safe food with high quality in a way that is environmentally and climate friendly. The development of plant material adapted to climate changes is crucial in this regard.

An increase in the global energy demand path the way for alternative sources of energy and environmentally friendly fuels, and the contribution of the agricultural industry in the production of energy will increase.

The increased demand for food and renewable energy will play a pivotal role to ensure the future income and employment in the primary production sector and in the industries based on agricultural resources.  The utilization of biomass, biogas, biofuel, hydropower and wind power as sources of energy, is also important for the agriculture and forestry sectors.

 The main objectives of this workshop are:

  • to generate a common understanding of the concept of Bioeconomy
  • to share experiences, good practices and policy inputs
  • to facilitate interaction and establish networks in this important area
  • generate ideas and stimulate motivation for future cooperation between India and Norway. 

Agronomy, ecology, better quality and nutritional food and food processing, engineering, biotechnology, chemistry, genetics, economics and social sciences will be imperative subjects. Your inputs and knowledge in these areas are extremely important to ensure sustainable development.

An innovative knowledge-based bio-economy will stimulate green growth and the green economy. In turn, this will boost economic growth and create jobs in established and new industrial sectors. It will promote environmental sustainability, ensure food security and reduce climatic change.

I see difficult challenges, but also great opportunities with the transition to a more environment- and climate-friendly energy- and primary production.

Our use of the earth's resources must be based on sustainability and diversity to reduce the effects on climate, environment and nature to save the world for future generations. More efficient use of bio–resources is no longer just an option, it is a necessity.

You have all important roles in making this change possible. I hope these two days will bring us a big step forward.

Thank you for your attention!