Arendalsuka – Norway’s festival of democracy

Many know Norway for open camping in the wild. Well, turns out it should be known for open democracy too. The small centre of Arendal turned into an arena for the big questions this week. And with the world confronted by the 4 Cs of conflict, covid, climate and commodities inflation, there was a lot to discuss.

Politicians, NGOs, industry and the public gathered to attend over 1700 sessions. Circa was invited by the Norwegian government to shed light on the country’s sustainable industry transition, specifically the future of forestry biomass, a pillar of Norway’s recently released roadmap for green industrial growth.

On day two of Arendalsuka, SIVA, the Industrial Development Corporation of Norway, brought together a small number of key organisations spearheading the development of bio-chemical value chains; here are some highlights of the session, including our CFO Tone Leivestad. It was heartening to witness a government listening to the needs of a new sustainable industry, and the intention is to continue the conversation.

With an energy neutral, water positive manufacturing process that takes forest waste biomass and makes safer alternatives to fossil-based chemicals, the Circa proposition is increasingly attractive. And Norway is not without its own energy and water constraints at present.

While oil and gas exports are in increasing demand, and unemployment is at a historical low, it was clear from the dialogue with SIVA that Norway is thinking ahead. The biochemical value chain exploits many of its natural advantages, and tackles future challenges, such as the development of new skilled employment pathways in advanced manufacturing for those jobs eventually displaced by the transition from fossil fuels, not to mention exports…

Circa has an important part to play in decarbonisation and the support of governments with strategic foresight, like France, and now Norway, will help us to change chemistry for good.