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Innovation and governance for the forest sector

The Chairman, Mr Esko AHO, former Prime Minister of Finland, welcomed the Members at the 3rd meeting of the High Level Group on Forestry and Biomaterials. He reminded them of our role: this independent tripartite High Level Group’s role is to ‘think outside-the-box’, according to its original mandate from the Competitiveness Council. The HLG is part of a new, ‘open innovation’ approach between governments, business and academia, to inject innovative policy ideas into the EU system.


The Chairman outlined the three key areas of discussion introduced by the invited experts and the Members of the Group:

  1. Deforestation & nature restoration: extra-territorial effects (by Professor Kouami KOKOU, Forest Ecology, and Natural Resources Management, Faculty of Sciences, Universities of Lomé and Kara)

  2. System innovation of forestry value chain (by Berry WIERSUM, Head of Regulatory Affairs, Sappi Europe)

  3. Governance & coherence forestry strategy with other Green Deal policies: Questions for Discussion (by Adam SEBESTA, Research Fellow, High Level Group)


These are the three highlights of the discussion:

  • Europe’s unifying concept of a circular bioeconomy model should be mainstreamed by politicians based on market realities. Both the regulator and the private sector should work hand in hand on the concept of the bioeconomy for Europe, combining expertise in an open regulatory environment to elevate European innovation.

  • An institutional transformation of the inter-institutional relations between the Commission and the Council is necessary. A whole new level of cooperation and trust needs to be achieved, based on fairness, participation, and true inclusion, all based on innovative techniques to engage the officials along the process of policymaking. The European Green Deal must be considered as an overarching vision not only for the EU but globally, especially in Africa, where it could be adapted and aligned to local conditions and incorporated within the paradigm of the African Union's growth and sustainability targets.

  • The industry needs to become better incorporated into the policy design to utilize its market and technical expertise. The EU regulatory environment is extremely complex and faces a tsunami of regulations in forest policy and other areas affecting forests (e.g., packaging). At the same time, different legislations remain uncoordinated and resulting trade-offs lead to opposing effects than the intended objectives.


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