Topic: Using participation and imagination to foresee opportunities and challenges for the bioeconomy society - Four scenarios and how we got there
The Bioeconomy is presented as one possible solution to replace the fossil economy, where renewable biological resources are turned into energy, food, health- fibre- and industrial products. Research however criticise these bioeconomy agendas to be too technocratic, and not be wary of environmental sustainability. The “renewableness” of biological resources being taken for granted. To tackle and mitigate these critiques and challenges, at the same time as showing the vast visionary space of how the bioeconomy society can look in the future, the research team (WP2) in Biosmart initiated an extensive Foresight analysis with a sustainability transition perspective. We asked: How can foresight analysis help us describe the necessary change we can do today, for the bioeconomy to become a sustainable solution to the societal challenges of the future? Using survey methods, internal exploratory workshops, and stakeholder workshops, we applied an iterative stepwise scenario process starting with 1) vision building and testing, 2) future images, to match the sector survey outcome, and 3) roadmapping. The results gave a bold vision for the bioeconomy as the starting point, where the extraction of fossil resources has ended, stating the overall principles of a zero-emission society with high quality of life, sustainable (economically, environmentally and socially) and circular value creation based on biological, renewable resources.
Four future images emerged out of the workshops, differing on two given dimensions: High/low accept of new technologies and high/low public regulation. These led to the different scenarios for the future bioeconomy society: 1) The environmentally conscious eco-society, 2) The technologically innovative knowledge-society, 3) The globally oriented biotech-society and 4) The politically driven bio-society.
Despite basic political and technological differences defining these bioeconomy societies, there were similarities regarding expected challenges and solutions. Common challenges represent resource utilisation and environmental externalities, but also how to keep the general population motivated when major societal changes are required. Similarities in solutions we can deal with now, were need for goal oriented knowledge development, through creating accept and adjustments for changes to come, and securing of institutions for development of knowledge-based information on what resources are available or scarce. Moreover, to create both digitized and face-to-face meeting places for increasing cooperation, participation, integration and coping strategies for navigating the information abundance. As such, this work represents answers to not only pillar three of the WG, but also the objective of knowledge production, policymaking and research agendas, though creating a window of opportunity for decision makers, strengthening of action legitimacy and the possibility of change, not only for the bioeconomy-actors, but also the individual.