Baltic Sea Region – at a Critical Juncture in its Bioeconomy Journey

Bioeconomy in the Baltic Sea Macro-Region: An Integral Component of EU Initiatives

The Baltic Sea macro-region, encompassing Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden, is a focal point for bioeconomy initiatives within the European Union (EU). These countries are leveraging their abundant natural resources, particularly in forestry and agriculture, to develop sustainable bio-based industries. This article explores the state of the bioeconomy in the Baltic Sea region, its alignment with EU bioeconomy strategies, and the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

The EU's Bioeconomy Framework

The European Union's bioeconomy strategy aims to integrate the sustainable use of biological resources across various sectors, including agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and energy. The strategy emphasises innovation, circular economy principles, and sustainable development, with a vision to reduce dependence on non-renewable resources, create jobs, and stimulate rural economies. This framework provides the backbone for regional bioeconomy strategies across Europe, including the Baltic Sea region.

State of Play in the Baltic Sea Region

The Baltic Sea region is distinguished by its substantial biomass resources, especially wood biomass, which form the bedrock of its bioeconomy. The region boasts strong sectors in biotechnology, chemical industries, and bioenergy, supported by robust infrastructures such as universities and research centers.

Despite the strengths, the region faces significant challenges. One of the primary weaknesses is the lack of dedicated national bioeconomy strategies in most Baltic Sea countries, except Finland and Latvia. This gap often results in lower value-added production and traditional mindsets that hinder innovative progress. Moreover, cross-sectoral cooperation and research and development (R&D) transfer are still developing, limiting the region's full potential in bioeconomy advancements.

Strategic Initiatives and Cooperation

The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea region (EUSBSR) plays a crucial role in fostering transnational cooperation and coordination among the member states. Initiated in 2009, it was the first macro-regional strategy in Europe, aiming to address common challenges and opportunities through collective action. The strategy's updated action plan from 2018 highlights the importance of developing a circular economy, promoting the bioeconomy, and improving nutrient recycling.

The Baltic Sea region benefits from a variety of transnational organisations and networks that support bioeconomy initiatives. These include the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Council of the Baltic Sea States, and the SUBMARINER Network for Blue Growth. Such organisations enhance cooperation, facilitate knowledge transfer, and support the implementation of bioeconomy policies across the region.

SWOT Analysis and Future Prospects

A SWOT analysis of the Baltic Sea region's bioeconomy reveals several strengths, such as the availability and quality of biomass resources, high activity levels in bioeconomy sectors, and strong cross-sectoral collaboration. However, weaknesses like the absence of comprehensive national strategies and lower levels of R&D funding pose significant challenges.

Opportunities in the region include the development of higher value-added products, valorisation of residual streams and waste, and the exploitation of invasive species like the round goby. Additionally, there is potential for growing and harvesting macroalgae for various applications, including food, plastics, and cosmetics, which could also contribute to improving water quality.

On the threat side, the region faces environmental concerns such as pollution, overexploitation of forests, and overfishing. Geopolitical instabilities and the shift of financial resources to defense due to these instabilities also pose risks to the bioeconomy initiatives.


The Baltic Sea macro-region stands at a critical juncture in its bioeconomy journey. With its rich natural resources and established sectors, the region has a solid foundation to build upon. However, addressing the existing weaknesses and threats through enhanced cooperation, strategic planning, and increased investment in R&D will be crucial. Aligning regional efforts with the broader EU bioeconomy strategy will not only bolster the Baltic Sea region's bioeconomy but also contribute significantly to the EU's overall sustainability and economic goals.

The path forward requires a concerted effort to harness the full potential of the bioeconomy, ensuring that it remains a driving force for sustainable development and economic resilience in the Baltic Sea region and beyond.


Country Fact Sheets to be Downloaded!

Get a quick overview of the bioeconomy sector in each of the countries in the Baltic Sea region, including employment, biomass production, funding opportunities, etc.


Curious to Know more about the Bioeconomy Sector in the Baltic Sea Region?

If you’re curious to know more about the bioeconomy sector in the Baltic Sea region, you can read the recently published report called ”Report on macro-regions – Mapping of initiatives, structures, instruments and key challenges for EU’s macro-regions.

Baltic Sea Region – at a Critical Juncture in its Bioeconomy Journey