BALANCE will develop a strategic tool for decision making that enable policy makers to evaluate alternative strategies for a circular bioeconomy in terms of the goals of value creation and employment, greenhouse gas emission reduction, and resource efficiency.

BALANCE will create a strategic tool that can guide decision makers as they attempt to grow the Norwegian bioeconomy and increase circular rather than linear flows of resources. The project’s research findings will generate a comprehensive understanding of the interlinkages between natural and human resources systems as well as the economic system in key sectors that drive production and consumption patterns. These sectors include aquaculture, forestry and agriculture.

BALANCE empirically assesses and maps interactions between natural resources use and human populations by innovatively integrating a socioeconomic metabolism model with a demographic metabolism model. The former deals with the dynamics of natural resources while the latter deals with population dynamics driving production and consumption. These maps and models, combined with an analysis of policies and framework conditions, will be developed and used in a transdisciplinary learning process involving different user groups. The result will be an identification of alternative pathways towards a circular bioeconomy.

Norway’s Bioeconomy Strategy has three overarching objectives: value creation and employment, climate change mitigation, and resource efficiency. However, it is unclear how and to what extent these objectives can be reached under alternative scenarios, because different interventions interact, either supporting or hindering each other. The strategic tools developed in BALANCE will enable stakeholders to identify and to quantitatively evaluate alternative pathways to a circular bioeconomy and to make better informed and coordinated decisions necessary to balance these objectives.

The integration of socioeconomic and demographic metabolism has a high potential to generate a new line of sustainability research that addresses both a better understanding of human needs and the means to satisfy them with limited resources.

Project participants: