Finland is full of smart youngsters interested in bioeconomy

25 January 2018

The Bio Era truck visited 66 localities in Finland last year. The 6-month Bio Era tour made especially young Finns more aware of the importance of bioeconomy the diversity of trades it is linked with.

Heikki Hepoaho, Chief of Science Centre Pilke, is happy after a massive effort last year. The Bio Era tour, organized by the forest sector in Finland, showed that Finns are very interested in bioeconomy and where the world is headed.

”Over the year, we spread the positive message about bioeconomy. The aim of our tour was to tell people that we have a chance of a bright future if we use our forests sustainably and utilise bioeconomy. We shared knowledge about bioeconomy and inspired the youth to keep track of the world’s issues”, Hepoaho says.

The crowd-puller of the tour was a science exhibition on wheels, the Bio Era truck, that visited 66 localities in Finland last year. The tour added up to 100 stops, about 12,000 kilometres and almost 44,000 visitors. Majority of them were school pupils, since the Bio Era tour was the Finnish forest sector’s gift to the 100-year-old independent country and especially its youth.

The main target group of the Bio Era tour were youngsters aged 13—19, who are thinking about their future and making career choices. Last autumn was dedicated to school visits, and according to Hepoaho, the reception was surprisingly good.

”Finland is full of smart, responsible and aware youngsters, who are interested in the theme of bioeconomy. When it became a topic in public discussion a few years ago, bioeconomy was mainly thought to equal bioenergy. But now people understand that bioeconomy will deal with almost any sector. The young understood very well the fact that bioeconomy has to do with how matter circulates. It revolutionizes thinking”, Hepoaho says.

Rousing encounters and enthusiastic youngsters

The tour was full of memorable people and encounters. Visitors were interested in the link between bioeconomy and their own fields of profession: practical nurses were interested in pulp-based medical products and wooden casts. People working in logistics were keen to discuss biofuels. But the inspiration of the youth was definitely the high point of the tour for Heikki Hepoaho.

“A 12-year-old boy from Jyväskylä who was home-schooled visited our truck many times during a local fair. He was extremely excited about things, investigating and thinking about issues thoroughly. We talked a lot about school, and he figured out the concept of bioeconomy right away.”

What about the concept of the word cloud featured in this article? What is that about?

”it is a vision of where Finland will be 100 years from now. We created the vision during the Bio Era tour with youngsters and it was handed over to the Prime Minister. The vision entailed a lot of traditional Finnish values such as peace, sisu (Finnish expression for guts), sauna, snow and proper winter. The further south we went, the more these values were emphasised in the minds of the youth. The vision also included future stuff like drones, space lift and biohacking.”

The Bio Era is created together

The tour ended in December, but the project continues. A seminar in February will deal with the data and numbers gathered during the tour. In addition to this, a Bio Era exhibition will open and last throughout the spring term in Science Centre Tietomaa in Oulu. The Bio Era truck was leased, so it is continuing its journey somewhere in Finland right now, although dressed in different clothes.

Heikki Hepoaho wants to thank the whole forest sector for the great, wide and successful tour.

“Cooperation is important when we want to tell the youth about bioeconomy and its possibilities. We have to make sure that we get the young to make bioeconomy reality. It requires constant work. The Bio Era is created together. This is a good place to continue!”

WHAT IS BIOECONOMY?

  • The green motor of circular economy, BIOECONOMY, is the next wave of the global economic development already underway.
  • BIO depicts renewable, natural raw materials.
  • ECONOMY means well-being, services and production.

The Bio Era tour was the Finnish forest sector’s gift to the 100-year-old independent country and especially its youth. UPM was one of the partners in cooperation of the tour.

The Bio Era tour is a part of UPM’s Biofore Share and Care programme that reflects our commitment to building a sustainable, innovation-driven future by sharing our expertise and assets for causes we care about. The focus areas are Reading & learning, Engaging with communities, Responsible water use and Boosting bioinnovations.  

Saara Pakarinen

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