What will Estonia’s bioeconomy look like in 2050?

In recent decades, global societal, economic, environmental and climate trends have been marked by a number of unexpected or previously overlooked developments and events, which have been met with extraordinary measures. The ratio of international trade to global GDP, which characterises globalisation, has been fairly stable since the economic crisis of 2008–2009, after having grown rapidly in previous decades. In many large countries, however, the question of whether globalisation as it is currently developing is even beneficial to humanity, has become increasingly acute.

At the same time, solutions to the challenges of global warming and preservation of biodiversity are being sought worldwide. Furthermore, mRNA vaccines, which have been placed on the market at an extraordinary pace in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, point to entirely new scientific and technological opportunities associated with synthetic biotechnology. These opportunities can thoroughly change our understanding of how to live a healthy and fulfilling life, how healthy food is prepared and what products can be made from biological raw materials.

In this scenario analysis, we look at four global development paths of bioeconomy, all of which are equally possible, depending on societal, environmental, climate, economic, energy and political developments in the world, but are characterised by very different dynamics. We analyse the opportunities offered by a more open and a more self-centred economic environment for the development of the Estonian bioeconomy. We also discuss how to embrace the completely new technological and socio-economic opportunities associated with biorevolution, and what to do if, for some reason, novel opportunities related to life sciences and biotechnologies do not materialise.