Bioeconomy in focus of 17+1 ministerial

Ljubljana – Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Jože Podgoršek took part in a virtual ministerial of the initiative for cooperation between China and Central and East European countries (17+1) on Wednesday focusing on forestry and its role in bioeconomy.

According to a press release from his ministry, Podgoršek pledged Slovenia’s commitment to “close cooperation with all partners in the initiative in a bid to address shared interests and attain the main goals”.

The ministers talked about the role of forests and forestry in bioeconomy in light of the challenges in the efforts to bring about sustainable development and tackle climate change, and opportunities for cooperation between China and CEE countries in the field.

“Forests in Slovenia are managed in a sustainable way, which is reflected in stable and biodiverse forests. We devote our attention to protective, biotic and hydrological functions of forests,” Podgoršek was quoted as telling the meeting.

He noted the significant role that Slovenian forests play in mitigating climate change and as carbon sinks. “Slovenian forests thus make a vital contribution to preserving biodiversity, and employment and income of rural communities.”

The ministry noted several documents that set out Slovenia’s guidelines and goals in bioeconomy and forestry, including the 2018 circular economy development roadmap and the national forestry programme.

A national industrial strategy for the 2021-2030 period that is now in the making will set guidelines for further development towards a green, creative and smart industry.

The country is also adopting a new bill on renewable energy sources with a focus on wood, while the broader issue of climate change is addressed in the comprehensive national energy and climate plan.

As part of the mechanism for cooperation in forestry in the 17+1 initiative, Slovenia sees cooperation in science and development as the most important.

“We believe cooperation in development of new materials and products from wood would contribute to development of bioeconomy,” Pogoršek said, calling for promoting partnerships between companies in forest-wood chains and exchange of experts and junior scientists.

The ministerial declared the Beijing declaration on cooperation in bioeconomy in forestry, which is not binding on the 17+1 counties under international law.