About the Region

  • Although Greece does not yet have a dedicated national strategy for the Bio-economy, there are governmental initiatives for prioritizing resource efficiency, energy-efficient practices, and low-carbon investments. For the time being, governmental efforts remain sporadic and scattered.
  • The Ministry of Environment and Energy in Greece spearheads bio-economy policies through key strategies like the National Strategy for the Circular Economy (2018), emphasizing waste management and green business support. Supporting documents such as the Green Growth Strategic Action Programme (2010-2015) encourage green procurement and easier capital access for biotechnology centers. The National Renewable Energy Action Plan (2010) aligns with EU targets, while Law 4414/2016 introduces a support scheme for renewable energy and climate change mitigation. These policies collectively underscore Greece's commitment to sustainability, circular economy principles, and renewable energy adoption.
  • The Ministry of Environment and Energy in Greece spearheads bio-economy policies through key strategies like the National Strategy for the Circular Economy (2018), emphasizing waste management and green business support. Supporting documents such as the Green Growth Strategic Action Programme (2010-2015) encourage green procurement and easier capital access for biotechnology centers. The National Renewable Energy Action Plan (2010) aligns with EU targets, while Law 4414/2016 introduces a support scheme for renewable energy and climate change mitigation. These policies collectively underscore Greece's commitment to sustainability, circular economy principles, and renewable energy adoption.

Thematic Orientation

Existing Sub-Sectors

The current bio-economy sector in Greece demonstrates a substantial turnover, estimated at approximately 27 billion euros, supporting employment for around 0.5 million individuals. Remarkably, nearly 80% of these activities are directly or indirectly linked to the agricultural sector, signifying its pivotal role.

The dominant sectors within the bio-economy landscape encompass:

  • Agriculture and Forestry,
  • Marine and Aquatic Resources,
  • Waste Management and Circular Economy,
  • Bio-based Industries (Food and Biotechnology),
  • Renewable Energy, and
  • Tourism and Biodiversity.

Focusing on the subsectors the main ones are:

  • Livestock farming,
  • Bioenergy,
  • Fisheries,
  • Bioplastics and Biomaterials,
  • Agro-food Industry,
  • Wood and Pulp Industry, and
  • Ecotourism.

Key Trends Influencing Innovation

In Greece, innovation within the bioeconomy is driven by several prominent trends. Advanced technologies like biotechnology and digitalization are increasingly integrated, amplifying efficiency and product quality. Embracing circular economy principles fosters resource efficiency and sustainable production patterns. Government policies supporting research and collaboration between academia and industry provide a conducive environment for innovation. The country’s commitment to renewable energy sources fuels advancements in bioenergy technologies. Collaborations spanning diverse sectors and rising consumer demands for eco-friendly products propel innovation in bio-based materials and goods. Simultaneously, investments in research and development initiatives and a thriving ecosystem for startups encourage the creation of novel technologies and products, shaping Greece’s bioeconomy toward sustainability and technological advancement.

Expected Sub-Sectors / Value Chains

Beyond the primary sectors like agriculture, renewable energy, and biotechnology, Greece has the potential for growth in various other sectors and value chains within the bioeconomy:

  • Agro-Tourism and Gastronomy: Promoting agritourism and culinary tourism, highlighting traditional Greek cuisine, local ingredients, and farm-to-table experiences to attract tourists interested in sustainable and authentic food experiences.
  • Smart Farming and Precision Agriculture: Implementing technology-driven solutions in agriculture, such as precision farming techniques, IoT devices, and data analytics, to optimize crop yield, reduce resource usage, and enhance farm efficiency.
  • Waste Valorization and Circular Economy Initiatives: Innovating waste management practices, focusing on converting agricultural by-products into value-added products like bioplastics, biofuels, or fertilizers, contributing to a circular economy.
  • Green Technologies and Clean Energy: Involving renewable energy technologies and green innovations in energy storage, grid management, and clean energy production, utilizing resources like solar, wind, and biomass.
  • Sustainable Fashion and Art: Utilizing natural fibers and sustainable materials from Greek agriculture, such as cotton, wool, and silk, to create eco-friendly clothing and textiles and creative design.

Opportunities for advancement (Growth, Career, Social, etc.)

The bioeconomy offers multifaceted avenues for growth, career development, and social impact. Careers in biotechnology, renewable energy, and sustainable agriculture provide extensive opportunities for advancement, enabling professionals to ascend into leadership and innovation-driven roles.  Some of them are in the reuse of animal waste for electricity and heat generation, through the utilization of biogas and use of by-products for fertilization of agricultural crops, the reuse of food waste in new food products production, and the utilization of animal waste in the generation of electricity and heat, in new technologies. Entrepreneurship in this field fosters personal growth and impactful solutions. Collaboration across disciplines allows diverse skill sets to thrive, addressing global challenges like climate change. Engaging in policy and education drives systemic change, while continuous learning and community involvement shape a fulfilling career in a domain focused on growth and positive societal contributions.

Governance, Education levels & Skills

Governance structure in adult education on Bioeconomy, or on the wider topic of sustainability (Higher Education, Vocational Training, etc.)

In Greece, the governance structure for adult education in sustainability, including bioeconomy-related topics, involves various entities:

Ministries and Government Bodies:

The Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs is responsible for overseeing educational policies, curriculum development, and initiatives related to sustainability education across educational levels, including adult education.

The Ministry of Rural Development and Food deals with agricultural policies, which intersect with the bioeconomy.

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Research Centers:

Universities and research institutions in Greece offer programs in environmental studies, renewable energy, agronomy, and other disciplines relevant to sustainability and the bioeconomy.

Research centers contribute to knowledge generation and might collaborate with educational institutions on curriculum development and projects.

Vocational Training and Lifelong Learning Centers:

Vocational training centers and adult education facilities offer courses and programs in green skills, sustainable practices, and potentially specific courses related to the bioeconomy.

While some strategies might directly address bioeconomy education, others might indirectly relate to aspects of sustainable agriculture, circular economy principles, or environmental sustainability without specifically mentioning bioeconomy education. Here’s an overview:

The new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for Greece:

The new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for Greece aims to strengthen its agricultural sector by focusing on producing high-quality goods and supporting small and medium-sized farms. The plan emphasizes enhancing competitiveness in sectors like fruits, vegetables, wine, apiculture, olive oil, and table olives. To tackle global market challenges, the strategy emphasizes farmer collaboration through collective programs and producer groups, aiming to bolster their position in the value chain. So, it indirectly impacts bioeconomy education by emphasizing high-quality agricultural production.

National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (NCCAS):

The NCCAS relates to bioeconomy education through its approach to adapting to climate change impacts in agriculture, rural development, waste management, and sustainable consumption.

National RIS for Smart Specialisation on Energy, Environment, and Sustainable Development:

This strategy contributes to defining energy-related goals and sustainable development initiatives, which intersect with aspects of bioeconomy education.

The National Strategy for the Circular Economy and the revised Action Plan for the Circular Economy:

These plans often address the promotion of sustainable production and consumption, resource efficiency, and waste management.

National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP):

The NECP primarily focuses on energy transition and climate objectives.

National Waste Management Plan, National Hazardous Waste Management Plan, and National Forest Strategy:

These plans touch upon aspects of sustainability, waste management, and environmental conservation relevant to bioeconomy principles.

At the regional level, according to the European Commission’s report, there is a lack of a specific plan or strategy for the development of the bioeconomy in most Regions. Only 4 of the 13 Regions have Action Plans for Bioeconomy.

Organization of Adult and Lifelong Learning

Adult and lifelong learning in Greece is organized through various structures and institutions, both formal and non-formal, aiming to offer educational opportunities and skill development for adults.

Universities offer specialized courses, master’s programs, and continuing education modules on diverse subjects including environmental sciences, agriculture, renewable energy, and sustainability.

Vocational education and training centers offer courses and certification programs tailored to adults seeking specific skills in areas such as green technologies, agribusiness, and sustainable practices.

Institutions like the Hellenic Open University provide distance learning programs, allowing adults to pursue higher education, often accommodating working professionals or those unable to attend traditional classes.

Various online platforms and MOOC providers offer courses and modules on sustainability, environmental sciences, circular economy, and related subjects, catering to adult learners seeking flexible learning options.

Private companies, industry associations, and NGOs offer training programs and workshops focusing on specific skills, often related to sustainability, environmental management, or industry-specific innovations.

Available Research on Bioeconomy Education

No relevant research on a country level was found.

Main Training, Retraining, or Lifelong Learning on Sustainability

In Greece, there are several Universities that offer advanced training programs in the circular Bioeconomy and sustainability, covering topics such as agriculture, forestry, and biotechnology.

There is a Master of Science in Bioeconomy “Natural Resources: Monitoring, Technology and Bioeconomy” offered by the Department of Forestry and Natural Environment of AUTh. It is based on the European Green Deal which constitutes the road map for achieving the sustainability of the economy at the national and European level and for the emergence of Europe as the first climate-neutral continent.

The International Hellenic University offers the MSc in Bioeconomy: Biotechnology and Law Programme through its School of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Economics. This specialized program aims to equip individuals in public or private sectors involved in consulting, management, and research related to biotechnological products and processes. It caters to those seeking involvement in the expanding field of bioeconomy by providing tailored knowledge and skill development.

The University of Piraeus and the Department of Biology of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens offer an interdisciplinary program of the Department of Economics, School of Economics, Business Tourism and International Studies, an MSc in Bioeconomy, Circular Economy and Sustainable Development.

The Master’s Program in Bioeconomy and Entrepreneurship at the University of Thessaly directly connects academic education with businesses, integrating training in entrepreneurial applications within biotechnology sectors such as pharmaceuticals, health, food and nutrition, environment, biochemical, and molecular diagnostics. This program provides students with essential insights into real-world bioeconomy and market dynamics.

Within the realm of postgraduate studies, there exist distinctive Master’s programs in Bioinformatics concentrating primarily on medical applications, while others in Biotechnology emphasize various sectors like marine, healthcare, and agri-food industries, among others.

No relevant Bachelor’s degree exists so far, as in most European countries.

Organizations like the Hellenic Management Association (EEDE) and the Greek Green Building Council (HellasGBC) provide certifications and training programs focused on sustainable business practices and green building standards.

The Institute for Bio-Economy and Agri-Technology (iBO) is one of the five Institutes of the Centre for Research and Technology – Hellas (CERTH), a legal entity governed by private law with non-profit status, supervised by the General Secretariat for Research and Technology (GSRT) of the Greek Ministry of Development and Investments engineering American Farm School (good practice owner on biogas) also runs a College on Agriculture and Biosystems -Perrotis College.

The “Centre for Sustainable Circular Bioeconomy and Energy of the Department of Environment of the University of the Aegean based in Mytilene has a holistic approach that combines the recovery and exploitation of biological resources with the promotion of sustainability and the protection of ecosystems.

ELGO-DEMETER conducts workshops, seminars, or training sessions focusing on sustainable agricultural practices, agroecology, and innovation in agriculture that align with bioeconomy principles.

Institutions like the National Centre for Scientific Research “Demokritos” or the Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas (FORTH) organize workshops, conferences, or educational programs focusing on biotechnology, environmental sustainability, or green innovation.

Moreover, The Cluster of Bioeconomy & Environment of Western Macedonia (CluBE) is a non-profit company established in 2014 among local actors and stakeholders of the Region of Western Macedonia, Greece. CluBE is developing R&D and business activities, aligning with relevant policies.

Available Research on Bioeconomy skills needed

No relevant research on a country level was found.

Linking Art & Bioeconomy Education

Bioeconomy education in which Art concepts are applied

Artistic Installations and Exhibitions: Events, exhibitions, and installations combine artistic expression with bioeconomy-related themes, showcasing innovative materials, sustainable design, or the utilization of bio-based resources in art projects.

Municipality of Thessaloniki events, organized by TIF-Helexpo, under the auspices of the Ministry of Environment and Energy and the Hellenic Recycling Organization.

Art addressing learning styles: NGOs, cultural centers, or educational institutions occasionally organize workshops or educational programs where art is used as a medium to teach about sustainability, recycling, or the importance of biodiversity, connecting these concepts with the bioeconomy. The Ecumenical Refugee Workshop NAOMI is an urban non-profit organization based in Thessaloniki. In the professionally configured workshop, it runs, refugees are taught by professionals in cutting, sewing, and changing clothes. It currently has 10 workstations with sewing machines and a place with a linking machine, as well as a large cutting table.

There are many ways to use art for Bioeconomy education on architecture, sculpture, and design topics. An example is from ASFA – School of Fine Arts, a self-governing Legal Entity under Public Law that operates under the supervision of the State. Also, local artisans or craftsmen incorporate sustainable practices, natural materials, or traditional techniques linked to the bioeconomy into their artistic creations.

Marginal Groups

Working with which marginalised, disadvantaged, minority groups is prioritised?

In Greece, disabled people, immigrants/ refugees, Roma communities, unemployed youth and adults/NEETs, and homeless individuals are groups that can be considered a priority.

Relevant Jobs and/or Opportunities for Inclusion of Marginal Groups

In Greece, the integration of marginalised groups is essential, especially for immigrants and refugees. For this reason, there are a lot of organizations that help immigrants and refugees integrate into Greek society by acting as local points of reference for the provision of specialized services to third-country nationals.  Educational programmes:

  • Greek language courses for beginners.
  • Courses with elements of Greek history and culture
  • English language courses
  • Computer courses to acquire basic computer skills
  • Psycho-social support such as counselling, drama therapy and music
  • Professional counselling sessions for individuals.

Government Support and Incentives: Financial incentives or subsidies are available for employers who hire individuals with disabilities, encouraging their inclusion in the workforce.

Programs aim to improve access to education for Roma children, focusing on school enrollment, reducing dropout rates, and providing support for academic success. Some initiatives offer educational materials and literacy programs tailored to Roma communities. Initiatives provide vocational training, skill-building workshops, and job placement support to enhance employment prospects for Roma individuals, aiming to bridge the gap between the Roma community and the job market. However, none of those are dedicated to bioeconomy.

The Greek Public Employment Service offers services such as job placement, vocational training, and career counseling for unemployed individuals. They provide information about job vacancies, skill development programs, and support for entrepreneurship.

Programs focusing on employment training, job placement, and reintegration services to help homeless individuals transition into stable employment and housing.

Main needs of individuals of marginalised groups integrating them into Bioeconomy

The main needs of individuals integrating them into the field of Bioeconomy in Greece, are:

  • Literacy support in various languages at different levels,
  • Education and training programs,
  • Ensuring equitable access to resources,
  • Advocacy support through social media, interviews, public speaking and others,
  • Encouraging community involvement, participation, and empowerment within marginalized communities,
  • Developing inclusive policies and initiatives that actively promote the inclusion of marginalized groups in the bioeconomy,
  • Art and creativity training and the development of vocational, leadership, coding, cooking, and crafting skills among others,
  • Skills and capacity building in areas such as visual arts, film, storytelling, photography, music

Existing educational/development activities for marginalized groups for Integration to Bioeconomy activities

No relevant activities on a country level were found.

SWOT Analysis

STRENGTHS

  • Huge potential of the Greek agricultural sector, rich water resources and endless kilometers of coastline.
  • In Greece, there are over 4,000 km² of uncultivated agricultural land, which could contribute to the production of biomass for biofuel.
  • The annual production of waste in Greece is 58 million tn/y, including agricultural and industrial waste (53%) and livestock manure (47%).
  • Only 3% of the total biomass is used for bio-economy applications (mainly as fuel).
  • Existing lateral opportunities, Life-Long learning, Vocational training, mass information, etc.
  • The country's tourism industry and cultural heritage can contribute to bioeconomy activities like sustainable tourism and eco-friendly products.
  • Growing research activities and collaborations in areas like biotechnology, renewable energy, and sustainable agriculture.

WEAKNESSES

  • Low technical training of farmers (32% have no education).
  • Difficulty in introducing new technologies because of the age of the rural population (60% of farmers over 45y old).
  • Fragmentation of agricultural land in many small properties (lot size ~ 4.8 ha against 14,3 in EU-27) that creates a lack of reliable transportation network and long-term supply of materials.
  • Reduction of employment in the primary sector.
  • Lack of a concrete Educational Strategy and Governance for Bioeconomy Education on a National scale.
  • Bureaucratic licensing difficulties.
  • Fragmentation of activities and priorities. Lack of an organizational umbrella.
  • Not available dedicated research on Bioeconomy Education.
  • Regulatory complexities and bureaucratic hurdles slow down innovation and business development in the bioeconomy.
  • Limited public awareness about the potential and benefits of the bioeconomy might impede its growth.
  • Insufficient skills and training programs tailored to the bioeconomy sector may limit workforce readiness.
  • Lack of appropriate financial mechanisms.

OPPORTUNITIES

  • The Greek government assigns a high priority to resource efficiency as well as energy-efficient and low-carbon investments.
  • Opportunities to embrace circular economy principles, reducing waste and promoting sustainable resource utilization.
  • Low participation of RES and other forms of energy shows the high growth potential of the sector in the country through the utilization of its untapped energy reserves.
  • Cooperation of the political leadership with the large scientific community of the country and the social partners.
  • Growing global demand for green technologies and sustainable practices presents export opportunities.
  • Opportunities to embrace circular economy principles, reducing waste and promoting sustainable resource utilization.
  • Access to European Union funds and initiatives supporting sustainable development and innovation in the bioeconomy.

THREATS

  • High price of raw materials and inflation.
  • Economic downturns and financial instability could impact funding and investment in bioeconomy initiatives.
  • Lack of control mechanisms for the implementation of existing environmental legislation and penalties on offenders.
  • Climate-related challenges like water scarcity and extreme weather events might disrupt agricultural activities critical to the bioeconomy.
  • Unstable and inefficient policy, which affects the final price of bioproducts and biofuels/energy.
  • Lack of a concrete National plan aiming to identify and then integrate the marginalized groups.
  • Possible emigration of skilled individuals caused by a lack of incentive or drive.
  • Geopolitical tensions could impact markets or access to key resources, affecting the bioeconomy.

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