Sitra is hosting the World Circular Economy Forum 2019 at a time of high hopes mixed with many uncertainties. The scientific and technological advances to save the planet are gathering momentum, while big question marks remain in terms of the political will, behavioural change and systemic transformation required to achieve sustainability.
“For me, the central message from WCEF 2019 is a very positive one. It is the confirmation that the circular economy is not just a wishful vision for the future – there is a good deal of genuine business already taking place which is also great for the environment,” says Risto Huhta-Koivisto, Senior Director Ecosystems, Bio- & Circular Economy, Business Finland.
Taking practical steps and influencing people
Climate change and the plastics crisis are more visible in people’s everyday lives and in the media than ever before, raising awareness among consumers and citizens. Huhta-Koivisto believes that WCEF and circular economy businesses around the world can and will make a difference.
“The impact of the circular economy is increasing in our economies and WCEF 2019 is sharing its innovative ideas and solutions with a growing audience. High-level decision-makers are coming to Helsinki, presenting an excellent opportunity to influence opinion around the world. I am also looking forward to all the valuable learning and networking at WCEF with the sharpest minds of the global circular economy community,” he says.
Accelerating circular economy growth
As a government agency, Business Finland plays the role of a facilitator and accelerator in the development of the circular economy in Finland. In addition to providing innovation funding for individual companies and joint research projects, Business Finland challenges Finnish companies to create bigger ecosystems, also offering funds or loans for these initiatives.
“It is very satisfying to follow the constantly growing number of Finnish companies that are seizing opportunities in the circular economy. With this high level of activity, more success stories are inevitable,” says Huhta-Koivisto.
Business Finland’s global network helps Finnish companies to find international partners and investors starting from the innovation stage. Its internationalization services also support Finnish companies in entering new markets. Business Finland’s Invest in Finland unit is often the first port of call for foreign investors interested in exploring business opportunities in Finland.
Tradition of efficient and responsible resource use
According to Huhta-Koivisto, Finland’s emergence as a prominent actor in the development of the circular economy is based on the country’s long tradition of using of natural resources responsibly.
“Historically, the forest industry has been a major strength of the Finnish economy. Already in 1886, rules were drawn up for managing the use of Finnish forests, which prevented the deforestation that occurred in many other countries. Constant monitoring of forest growth also became the norm,” he explains.
Today Finland’s highly advanced forest industry is using every part of wood for diverse products and processes, including textile production.
“The positive environmental effect of recycling textiles and regenerating the fibers will be huge. Wood-based textiles also represent a vast business opportunity for Finland. But there will be even greater breakthroughs in the future as the processes develop and become more competitive, and wood-based biomass can be used to replace even more products and different kinds of plastics.”
Finland’s circular economy is constantly generating more innovations and new business.
“For example, the Finnish energy companies Neste and St1 have developed processes to produce biofuel from waste and side streams. Energy industry visitors to Finland are often surprised to discover that biodiesel is already Neste’s most profitable business,” says Huhta-Koivisto.
Published by ” Business Finland “