1.4 Holistic sustainability and equity of the bioeconomy

The Government Programme aims to achieve a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable society. The sustainability roadmap brings together the elements of sustainability’s different dimensions (social, economic and ecological sustainability) into a balanced whole, recognising the close links between the dimensions. The Bioeconomy Strategy aims to direct Finland towards a carbon-neutral society in a socially and regionally fair manner.

The approach that relies on the holistic sustainability of the Bioeconomy Strategy is based on cooperation between different sectors and the system transformation that it enables. Closer cooperation is a prerequisite for building a common operating model based on information on the total resources available in a sustainable manner and the distribution of access between sectors. In the best case scenario, this will lead to integrated use and recycling of raw materials through the identification of new opportunities, allowing sectors to use resources in parallel and as a continuation and to make efficient use of them. It is also creating new opportunities for innovation.

Sustainability is assessed on the basis of scientific data. Demonstrating the sustainability of the Finnish bioeconomy is a key issue for the success of the future bioeconomy.

Social sustainability

All members of society are guaranteed opportunities for a good life, health, education and employment. A socially sustainable society treats all its members in an equal manner, supports health and functional capacity, and provides the necessary security and services. Existing resources will enable the narrowing of inequality and a better quality of life. A high level of education and general knowledge as well as social mobility will be promoted as part of social sustainability. The diverse values, objectives and practices related to bioeconomy are implemented in such a way that they also support cultural sustainability.

Economic sustainability

A sustainable economy is a prerequisite for the key functions of society. Economic well-being cannot be based on long-term indebtedness or the overconsumption of natural resources. Strengthening the ‘Doing More from Less’ principle of the circular economy will enable the growth of well-being without increasing the consumption of natural resources. The change towards a more sustainable economy is based on the efficient use of natural resources, strengthening expertise and increasing the number of jobs.  The creation of jobs, well-being at work and occupational safety will be promoted, for example, by reforming production methods and operating models. Industrial reform will be promoted in order to create more jobs that have added value and high productivity.

Ecological sustainability

Ecological sustainability means the ability of society to act within the limits of the planet’s carrying capacity. The aim is to safeguard the functioning of natural systems and their capacity for renewal now and in the future. Compliance with the precautionary principle is essential for ecological sustainability. Before taking action, the risks, disadvantages and costs must be assessed. It is also important to prevent harmful effects and to combat them at the source.

Ensuring the ecological sustainability of bioeconomy measures is of primary importance. Achieving climate and biodiversity targets will require ensuring the sustainability of the raw material base and strengthening the utilisation of side and waste streams as well as extending the life cycle of products and planning in accordance with the circular economy. Stopping climate change, stopping biodiversity loss, and preventing overconsumption of natural resources are supported by ensuring the ecological sustainability of bioeconomy activities.


Attention should be paid to the fair distribution of the bioeconomy’s advantages and disadvantages in order to promote equal well-being for all. When setting bioeconomy objectives, it is essential to take into account possible conflicts of interest and equity between different parties. In terms of the participation of the parties concerned, it is essential to identify the needs and rights of different groups.

Ethical sustainability is a comprehensive theme that should be taken into account in general political preparation. According to the Government Programme, the transition to a carbon-neutral society must be done in a regionally and socially fair manner. In order to ensure a fair transition, a Scientific Panel on Ethical Sustainability is being put together, whose tasks will include acting as an independent advisory body to support the implementation of the Bioeconomy Strategy.