Salvation by bioenergy – what is the potential?

Climate change, fossil fuels, greenhouse gases… We need to find ways to a sustainable future. Can bioenergy be part of the solution?


There are a lot of different views on the potential for biomass production. But it is widely believed that, in order to reach carbon neutrality, the use of bioenergy should continue to grow. Bioenergy can provide large amounts of clean energy at acceptable environmental costs. But will there be side effects, such as hunger, biodiversity loss and substantial greenhouse gas emissions?

To provide guidance on this matter, SNS, Nordic Joint Committee for Agricultural and Food Research (NKJ) and Nordic Energy Research have produced a policy brief: Sustainable use of biomass for heating and transport fuel. The aim is to contribute to the current debate on the important, but complicated, issue of sustainable use of biomass.


Download the policy brief

NordCAW symposium: antibiotic resistance, animal welfare and sustainability

Foods produced by animals with poor welfare pose a serious threat to human health. The purpose of the symposium is to increase awareness and knowledge of the One Health concept and to show that animal welfare is closely linked with the use of antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance and thus human health.

Text: Margareta Stéen


Animal welfare and animal health affect the use of antibiotics in food production and thus the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Animals that live in poor conditions become stressed and can suffer from and spread infectious diseases. The use of antibiotics increases and the risk of antibiotic resistance arises.

The Nordic and Baltic Animal Welfare Centers (NordCAW) want to be a strong voice for animal welfare and work to reduce the use of antibiotics in food production. We work in the “One Health perspective” with the aim of protecting the health and well-being of animals, people and the environment.

With the symposium, NordCAW wants to share and disseminate knowledge about the consequences for poor animal welfare for the development of AMR in the Nordic and Baltic countries as well as in the rest of the EU.

When: Mars 24 2020,  10.30-17.10

Where: Audhumbla, VHC, Ultuna, Uppsala, Sweden



New networks funded by NKJ

The NKJ board had a tricky task to evaluate and rate the ten received proposals in the recent call for funding, but we are happy to present the new networks below! 

The focus areas of the call were:
·    Soil as a carbon sink
·    Alternative proteins
·    Arctic agriculture and climate
·    Extreme weather

All of these are areas have been of special focus for NKJ lately. However, networks focusing on other aspects of Nordic agriculture and food research were also encouraged to apply for funding. In total, ten proposals were received and evaluated by the NKJ board. We are happy to support the six networks in the list below, with activities in 2020 and 2021.

NKJ wants to promote Nordic collaboration among researchers from the agricultural sectors by networking activities such as conferences and seminars and also encourage Nordic researchers and institutions to apply for larger funds by joint efforts. Our funded networks are truly Nordic, since they have to gather at least three Nordic countries! They also need to be gender balanced and we encourage them to actively engage younger researchers and PhDs. 

These are the funded networks:

Resilient Northern Crops Network (NordCrop)
Carl-Otto Ottosen
Århus University

Nordic Crop Wild Relative network – conservation for a more resilient Nordic agriculture
Anna Palmé

Cultured Meat – Nordic Take
Jette Feveile
Århus University

Hrannar Smári Hilmarsson
Agricultural University of Iceland

Exploring pathways to protect soil carbon stocks in agroecosystems
Ji Chen
Århus University

Diversification of the Nordic protein sources
Anne Pihlanto
Natural Resources Institute Finland


At the moment we have an open call for networks in plant health and alternative proteins. Read more and apply here before April 15th.



Nordic cooperation for adaption: forests and fields in climate change

The NKJ & SNS funded project Adaptation, mitigation and breeding of trees and crops for future climate, Genes4Change, organized a scientific seminar in Oulu, 18th-19th March, 2019.

The aim of the Genes4Change network is to combine Nordic researchers and stakeholders to discuss adaptation, mitigation and breeding of trees and crops for future climate. Climate will be similar for plants and trees, and enhancing collaboration will be beneficial for both.


The network gathered together people from different disciplines to discuss together adaptation, mitigation and breeding of trees and crops for future climate in Oulu Science Garden  in 18th-19th March, 2019. The number of participants was limited to 80 due to space, but excellent representation from both agricultural and forestry side, high quality invited speakers together with excellent contributors.

Genetics is crucial

Basic research on local adaptation is increasing our understanding on possibilities to mitigate the effects of climate change. Genetics of most crucial issues on climate change: changes in growth rhythm and increasing need for resistance against biotic and abiotic factors were discussed, influencing both forest tree species and for agricultural plants.  Methodologies already used in model species to study genes and gene networks are becoming available also for other species. Need for large scale international collaboration with multidisciplinary approaches is evident.

It takes time

While evolutionary process needs several generations, the studies on genetics of local adaptation, breeding and optimal deployment of genetic material are also time demanding, and should continue across several generations of researchers.

In the meeting, we also celebrated long careers of outstanding researchers in the field, Outi Savolainen, University of Oulu, Bengt Andersson-Gull, Skogforsk, and Antoine Kremer, INRA, who all have contributed much to our understanding on genetics of local adaptation, and possibilities to mitigate effects of climate change via breeding and optimal deployment.

In the panel, the honorary speakers presented their views on climate change: what have we learned and how to proceed, and discussed these issues  together with “next generation researchers”, JP Verta (University of Helsinki) and Delphine Grivet, INIA,  The honorary speakers’  take home messages were recorded and stored in the web.

See the discussion

Thank you for joining the digital future with us

Nordic Testbed Network got a real push forward when 40 participants met to set the course for the digital transformation in the Nordic bioeconomy. 

For NKJ, cooperation is the key. Therefore we want to gather Nordic testbeds to establish a network that can lead the way towards a sustainable society in a digital future. To facilitate the development of new and existing testbeds, the Nordic Testbed Network aims to unite and strengthen testbeds aimed at supporting the digital transformation of the bioeconomy.

November 12th our participants met to set the vision and structure of the network. More info here

Inspiration talks

Frida Magnusdotter Ivarsson kick-started the workshop with a very inspiring and energizing talk on the subject “Organizing for digital innovation”, followed by a very interesting talk by Monika Svanberg on “Mobilizing testbeds”. The different testbeds represented at the workshop were also presented with some inspiring talks about how they work to enhance bioeconomy.​

But this wasn’t a day for just listening. In workshops, the participants also worked hard to set the vision and structure of the Nordic Testbed Network. The economy of the network was also discussed; how do we use the resources at hand in the most efficient and effective way?

Next step

After the workshop, we now have an even better basis for the Nordic Testbed Network! We will now gather all good ideas harvested during the workshop and our coordinator, Maria Tunberg, will use it as a starting point for further development of the network.

There are already testbeds connected to the network and more will join. Spread the word and use the hashtag #nordictestbednetwork to reach out to interested actors in the digital transformation bioeconomy.​

More about Nordic Testbed Network

New NKJ networks in One Health

Five networks get funding from NKJ for networking activities in One Health. The decision was made in the board meeting in Lysaker, Norway. 


The board has decided which of the applicants will get funding to develop Nordic research in One Health. Five networks will arrange workshops, meet and write joint large scale applications, all to bring Nordic researchers closer together  and make the best out of our common knowledge.

The call has been opened in two rounds.

Animal welfare

One of the funded networks, NordCAW, is into how animal welfare is interconnected to human wellbeing and environment. A few Nordic and Baltic institutions will be active in the network. Workshops and seminars will be organized and the Nordic/Baltic voice will be stronger in an international perspective. We are pleased to see that the network actively will involve young researchers!

Another of the newly founded networks, Nordic vets against antimicrobial resistance (AMR), will organize workshops and seminars in three Nordic countries to share thoughts about research activities and form a platform for future collaboration on different aspects of antimicrobial resistance. The network is also aiming to longer-term collaboration and to proceed to scientific joint research calls such as H2020.

Three additional networks was accepted for funding in this call with the focus area One Health. We hope you will gain a lot of knowledge, cooperation and good ideas through your new networks!

New board members

The NKJ board has got two new members. Kirsti Anker-Nilssen is one of them. She represents Norway and works on a daily basis on Landbruks- og matdepartementet. The other one is Sæmundur Sveinsson from Iceland, working on MATIS. You are most welcome to join the work for Nordic agricultural research!

Last chance to join the configuration of the Nordic Testbed Network

Nordic Testbed Network – supporting the digital bioeconomy
An initiative by Nordic Council of Ministers

WORKSHOP Malmö, Nov 12

Facilitating knowledge transfer, allocating seed money, running Nordic projects… What do you think the network should focus on? Join us in setting the vision and structure of the Nordic Testbed Network.

All about the network!



  • Inspiration talks – what’s the latest in the digital bioeconomy?
    • Organizing for digital innovation in the bioeconomy. University of Gothenburg/Swedish Center for Digital Innovation
    • Mobilizing a testbed – how to reach out and facilitate Nordic innovation. The Bioeconomy region.
  • Testbed presentations – get to know testbeds engaged in the digital transformation in the Nordic bioeconomy.
  • Setting vision and structure for the network – together we discuss and decide on vision and structure for the network.
  • Allocating seed money – joint discussion on how to allocate existing funding for supporting the digital transformation in the Nordic bioeconomy.
  • Networking – meet Nordic stakeholders from public and private sector.

REGISTER There are a limited number of seats available!

Maria Tunberg, PhD
Senior consultant
+46 730 21 75 30

NKJ interconnects researchers in the Nordic countries

New contacts, a business modell and a push to get closer to realize their dream project. That was what the participants at our Matchmaking day in Reykjavik brought back home. And of course a lot of new experiences!


Our special guest this day was Dr Hannes Ottosson, project manager at Innovation Centre Iceland and adjunct lecturer. He teaches innovation and business development at the University of Iceland, and his fields of interest is innovation, entrepreneurship, social capital, social innovation, cluster development and innovation education. He shared his business modell with the researchers at the Matchmaking day, for them to think new when it comes to communication of their knowledge. We heard quite a few positive words about it later on so we thank you so much Hannes for your contribution to the day!


During the day the participants joined small workshops and were active in developing their dream project and to improve their professional networks. They also acted as mirrors and were of good help in the creative processes for their colleagues. There where also time in the schedule for mingle, so in the evening many new friends and colleagues had found each other.

Iceland in an afternoon

In the afternoon we left for a tour by bus to see a small part of Iceland and the Icelandic forests. Our very much appreciated guide A∂alstein Sigurgeirson teached us about the reforestation of Iceland, Icelandic history and a lot more. We ended up around the campfire, chatting and trying some Icelandic specialties.

Thank you all, for joining us and contribute to this great day! We hope you are as happy as we for having the opportunity to meet, learn and having new contacts!

For all the photos, click here and scroll down!

Nordic ministers will use soil as a carbon sink

Farmers and foresters in the Nordic countries can be crucial for the climate. Forest and agricultural land is a possible option for storage of carbon that otherwise would remain in the atmosphere and cause climate change.


The Nordic ministers for agriculture now want to make the farmers – whom are often blamed for parts of the climate change – to be their allies in the work for increased carbon storage in the soil. Changed land use will help mitigating climate change. HERE ARE THE FACTS!

NKJ and SNS have dug deeper in the issue. Find and enjoy our REPORT and the shorter BROCHURE!

Boardmeeting: New call in agriculture and climate

In the autumn, NKJ will open a new call for funding. The focus will be agriculture and climate.


The NKJ board have decided to make a new announcement of financing for research networks during the autumn.

One of the focus areas of the call will be how the soil can be used as a carbon sink. During the spring, NKJ has been working on this issue and our report can be read here. NKJ has also worked very actively with extreme weather and produced a report on how the Nordic countries, in the best way possible, can meet the new conditions that a changing climate imply – extreme weather will be another focus area of the call. Denmark has developed a new protein strategy. NKJ hooks up by making protein a third focus area in the announcement. A fourth focus area will be Arctic agriculture and climate.

More info about the call can be found on our website, social media and in newsletters (register here) in the autumn.

NKJ loves collaboration

NKJ expands its cooperation with relevant organizations and becomes an increasingly important advisory party to the Nordic Council of Ministers. Several new, exciting collaborations with other organizations have already started.

Responsibility for Nordic reindeer research has been adressed to NKJ via a cooperation agreement between Sweden, Norway and Finland. NKJ is now taking the lead in the work within Nordic reindeer research!

Climate KIC Nordic has expressed interest in cooperating with NKJ, and visited the NKJ board meeting in Akureyri in Iceland. There is already a concrete result of the collaboration; a side event with the theme “Sustainable alternative proteins” at the World Food Summit.

Increased gender equality in NKJ

Increased gender equality in the NKJ strategy is requested. There are several thoughts on how this could be done, such as extending the board with a youth representative and organizing workshops on the subject. As the strategy of the Nordic Council of Ministers is updated, the strategy of NKJ will be rewritten so that it also includes gender equality and social inclusion.

All reporting to be done March 1st

NKJ will also change its reporting system for financed networks. Today, reporting is to be done within the last three months after the project has been completed. In the new reporting template, the deadline is March 1, the year after the project’s activities have been completed. The purpose is to get more structured information that facilitates evaluations and communication of the results of the activities.