Finland has high-quality water in abundance. Water expertise a major asset for Finnish growth business and exports.
In 2010, the UN recognized “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.” On World Water Day 2019, billions of people are still living without safe water.
Water is an indispensable natural resource. In 2018, Finland drafted a new water strategy with the aim of building a water-secure world by the year 2030. The strategy forms the framework for Finland’s water-related international ambitions and actions and contributes to the implementation of the water-specific sustainable development goals of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A sustainable management of water resources is part of the solution to almost all major global problems, such as famine, over-exploitation of natural resources, pollution, and adaptation to climate change.
"Sustainable development is possible only if we can manage the risks related to water resources and their use. The new strategy, updated in broad cooperation, will guide us in our consistent efforts to solve global water-related challenges," says Jaana Husu-Kallio, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
The great demand for clean water and related solutions worldwide creates opportunities also for the export of Finnish water expertise and for international business in the water sector. For example, water-saving and water-recycling solutions and smart management of water resources are in high demand.
Key projects on the blue bioeconomy seek new solutions relating to the utilisation of nutrients and energy, new service concepts for water tourism, internationalisation of the water sector, and digitalisation.
One of the largest investments was in a project concerned with creating a new water treatment concept for recirculating aquaculture systems. The new methods in the Laukaa recirculating plant to be completed in summer 2019 include constructed wetlands for purification, removal of nitrogen based on wood chips, and formation of artificial groundwater in the treatment of discharge water and recirculation of water. The pilot plant will serve as a testing environment for new technologies for both private companies and public research. Recirculating aquaculture systems have enormous global potential especially in regions where the water resources are scarce.
“Water expertise and aquatic natural resources offer lots of sustainable growth opportunities for Finland, both on the domestic and foreign markets. This requires target-oriented cooperation between the private and public sector so that we can offer competitive solutions to global challenges, including the purification and reuse of water or sustainable food production”, says Timo Halonen, Ministerial Adviser at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
A new testing environment for wastewater purification has been launched in Mikkeli region. It is based on a new kind of water technology and treatment of water. Besides modernising the treatment of water, the expertise accumulated from the testing and learning environments creates new opportunities for Finland in the growing fields of reuse and recycling of water and energy saving.
Fishing is one of the sectors of Finnish blue bioeconomy. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry counts on significant growth, if the currently underutilised fish catches and side streams can be used more productively. In Finland, the side streams created by the fish processing industry amount to about 20 million kg a year. Relating to this, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund has granted financial support through the fisheries innovation programmes to raise the value of underutilised fish material. New products use domestic fish such as Baltic herring and roach fish species as raw material, including pulled fish made from minced small fishes.
World Water Day is coordinated by UN-Water – the UN’s inter-agency collaboration mechanism for all freshwater related issues - in collaboration with governments and partners. Currently 2.1 billion people live without safe water at home. 700 million people worldwide could be displaced by intense water scarcity by 2030.
Photo (c) Jyrki Kuusirati