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Jostein Brobakk, RURALIS – Institute for Rural and Regional Research, Norway

Gerald Schwarz, Thuenen Institute, Germany

Topic: Understanding and addressing policy barriers for a bioeconomic transition in Norway

Keywords: bioeconomy, transition, policy studies, cross sectoral


The development of the bioeconomy calls for a shift in our approach towards policy studies. A bioeconomic transition is a comprehensive endeavour calling for coherent parallel activities from societal actors and institutions and vertical and horizontal policy integration. The development of a bioeconomy in Norway will place different needs on the bioproduction sectors and the people that work the land and the oceans. As there are several pathways towards a bioeconomic shift, and a wide range of bio-sectors is involved, managing the transition process and working together across different sectors to produce relevant policies is critical. The analysis of the barriers for a bioeconomic transition summarised in this paper is based on the results of work undertaken in the Biosmart project (financed by the Norwegian Research Council), including a literature review and consultations with a diverse set of public and private sector stakeholders in Norway. In the process, (policy) barriers for a bioeconomic transition were identified and possible solutions explored through co-learning among researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners. The paper presents results of the mapping of the institutional context involved in implementing and supporting policies and identifies policy and institutional barriers for bioeconomic transitions. Findings of literature studies, stakeholder consultations and survey analysis indicate that access to private investment capital and fossil energy scarcity are minor drivers of bioeconomic transitions. Instead, state initiatives and governmental policies emerge as key drivers with the highest priority across different stakeholder types. While policy measures are seen as key drivers, dominating governing principles enhance siloing effects – although often unintended. Separate bioeconomy strategies emerge from sectoral siloes reflecting different interests and objectives and hindering coherent activities and balanced policy development. Ambitions of more cross-sectoral solutions need to be followed-up, both in public policies as well as investment opportunities. However, the evidence from the survey and stakeholder consultations, as well as the analysis of the national strategies, highlights the importance of maintaining both a cross-sectoral and non-cross-sectoral focus side by side. Not all bioeconomic achievements require a cross-sectoral focus and sectoral bioeconomic initiatives currently happening, for example, in forestry, should not be ignored when seeking cross-sectoral solutions. Building local discussion forums and regional platforms will facilitate systematic communication across sectors. The paper recommends developing a roadmap which translates the National Bioeconomy Strategy and the seven key principles of the Green Growth Strategy into concrete measures.

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