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Innovation in the Forest-Based Sector – Prerequisite for the Green Economy

Back-to-back with the Working Party meeting.

Focal points:

Innovawood: Gus Verhaeghe

UNECE/FAO: Elina Warsta

Forest sector innovation plays a key role on the road towards a green economy. Innovation can be considered as a prerequisite for the green economy, towards a sustainable future where most products originate from renewable resources and materials are chosen according to their overall environmental impact.

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Bioproducts and biochemicals produced from wood are the most promising wood-based products of the future, experts claim. For example different types of nanocelluloses produced from wood can be used in biocompatible materials as for instance in gels to reduce back pain, or to improve performance of high value-added products such as cosmetics or filters to capture CO2, or in super hard coatings for the aerospace industry. Intelligent paper is revolutionizing medical applications and practices. Wood is everywhere, but we are not always aware of it. A group of experts gathered on 22 April 2013 in Geneva to discuss innovation in the forest-based sector, to showcase success stories, and to exchange views on the challenges and opportunities of the sector. The seminar was hosted by the UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber section in collaboration with InnovaWood.

Wood based polymers - renewable and biodegradable - can be used to replace materials from non-renewable resources in a wide range of products, but education and marketing is still needed to support the understanding and the image of wood with end-users. Certification is one of the most powerful tools to guide consumer choices. Furthermore, the policy and legal framework conditions are crucial to create enabling environment with the help of research and innovation strategies, action plans or financial tools to facilitate innovation. New building codes for construction now allow the use of wood in multi-storey buildings and a greater variety of applications in several countries. For example Switzerland is moving from passive to active sustainable wooden buildings, which produce energy with solar panels. Green insulation is also developed by using wood cellulose.

Forest sector innovation plays a key role in the transformation towards a green bio-based economy. UNECE/FAO work including Action Plan for the Forest Sector in a Green Economy, to support the countries and other stakeholders in the transition towards a sustainable future. The discussion on innovation will continue in Russia on 22-24 May 2013 in a workshop on ”Forest products and technologies for the future” and in Finland during the European Forest Week 9-13 December 2013.

“Both process innovation and product innovation are a must for the transition of the forest sector towards a green economy”, Ewa Ratajczak, the president of InnovaWood concluded at the end of the seminar.

Press Release


Concept note








Arnaud Brizay

Role of the Forest Sector in the Green Economy


Andreas Kleinschmit

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Ralph Heinrich

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Chris Gaston

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Peter Schürch

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Marek Krzykowski

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