The agreement to launch the new European Union (EU) strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth--Europe 2020 (2010) creates a need for research initiatives to develop the new concept of competitiveness, with much of the research focusing on how sustainable development and competitiveness interact (Balkyte and Tvaronaviciene 2010: 360).
On the one side, the challenge "to continually improve the quality of life and wellbeing on Earth for present and future generations" leads to the growing role of sustainable development.
On the other side, competitiveness race in the global economy is becoming more aggressive. Competitiveness is both a test of the economy and a chance to further enhance economic performance.
Generally, it is important not only to state the fact about the achievements in the context of competitiveness, but the most important "puzzler" is to find out the factors, which create the complex competitive advantage of the country or region in the future (Balkyte and Tvaronaviciene 2010: 359).
According to the strategy Europe 2020 (2010), EU Member States should decouple economic growth from resource use, turning environmental challenges into growth opportunities and making efficient use of their natural resources.
There is a need for research initiatives to evaluate the natural resources role for the competitiveness in the context of sustainable development in the long prosperity.
It is generally recognized, that natural resources provide many benefits to society and to the economy and play an important role in the preservation of natural biodiversity and the mitigation of climate change. The quality of our ecosystems--namely air, water, soils and forests--should be ahead of negative impact of climate change.
Globalisation challenges increase the need to evaluate the basic factors, such as land, capital and labour, with new approach. Climate change and sustainable development dimension call for the acknowledgement of the role of natural resources for competitiveness and long-term development.
Despite the accepted importance of the forestry sector for sustainable development, there is a significant lack of information on forests ownership in Europe. The changing situation every year and the lack of good praxis examples create a need for new research.
The aim of this article is to present the approach to natural resources, especially forests, as to the one of the sustainable competitiveness resources in the long prosperity with the specific focus on its ownership.
First, the article presents the systematic view on sustainable competitiveness, taking into account the development of competitiveness concept in the context of sustainable development.
Second, the article provides an overview of the specific points of the forests ownership practice in the world, some EU Member States and Lithuania.
The existing theoretical views on forest ownership structure differ, but the benefit of forests is generally recognized.
Generally, the science literature and actual political documents' analysis of the specific points of the forests ownership practice in some EU Member States and Lithuania in the context of sustainable competitiveness is followed by the summary of the conclusions.
It is expected that in the future forestry will continue to be valued for the ability to serve a range of economic, environmental, and social functions and growing forests could become the source of growing sustainable competitiveness.
2. Competitiveness versus sustainable development
Being competitive or being only sustainable is easier than being sustainable and competitive at the same time. Despite the fact, what the European Union has the special strategy for sustainable development and the separate new strategy Europe 2020 (2010) (before--Lisbon Strategy) with the specific point to competitiveness, it should be generally recognized the importance of the compatibility of competitiveness and sustainable development.
Sustainable development is a fundamental and overarching objective of the European Union, enshrined in the Treaty. The EU sustainable development strategy, launched by the European Council in Gothenburg in 2001 and renewed in June 2006, brings together the many strands of economic, social and environmental policy under one overarching objective--to continually improve the quality of life and wellbeing on Earth for present and future generations (Sustainable development ... 2009).
According to the EU strategy Europe 2020 (2010), Member States should decouple economic growth from resource use, turning environmental challenges into growth opportunities and making efficient use of their natural resources.
Sustainable growth means building a resource-efficient, sustainable and competitive economy, exploiting Europe's leadership in the race to develop new processes and technologies, including green technologies, accelerating the roll out of smart grids, exploiting EU-scale networks, and reinforcing the competitive advantages of the businesses, particularly in manufacturing, as well through assisting consumers to value resource efficiency. Such approach will help the EU to prosper in a low-carbon, resource constrained world while preventing environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and unsustainable use of resources. It will also underpin economic, social and territorial cohesion (Europe 2020, 2010).
The political topicalities create the need for research initiatives to develop the new concept of "Sustainable competitiveness" in the context of globalisation, with much of the research focusing on how sustainable development and competitiveness interact (Fig. 1). Such additional research will lead to new theoretical models describing the relationships between international globalization, economic growth, sustainable development, wellbeing and competitiveness (Balkyte and Tvaronaviciene 2010: 341).
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
The concept of competitiveness and competitiveness models are still far from creating a consensus. The new factors are becoming important and a number of researchers provide the new models of competitiveness.
Globalisation challenges increase the need to evaluate the basic factors, such as land, capital and labour, with a new approach. Climate change and sustainable development dimension call for the acknowledgement of the role of natural resources for long-term competitiveness.
3. Competitiveness resources in the context of sustainable development
3.1. Natural resources role for future competitiveness
According to the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), provided by World Economic Forum (WEF), there are three stages of development. In the first stage, the economy in factor-driven and countries compete based on their factor endowments: primarily unskilled labour and natural resources. Maintaining competitiveness at this stage of development hinges primarily on well-functioning public and private institutions, well-developed infrastructure, etc. In the efficiency-driven stage of development countries increase product quality. Finally, after the efficiency-driven stage of development countries move into the innovation-driven stage (Schwab 2009: 7).
The European Commission's prognoses are that the tensions will be between production, consumption patterns and natural resources in 2025 (The World in 2025 ... 2009: 18). According to The World in 2025 ... (2009: 14), there will be increasing scarcity of natural resources in EU in 2025 and the EU can become more dependent on external sources. For example, more than 50 percent of the major ore reserves are located in very poor countries.
The new research tendencies lead to the acknowledgement of the important role of natural resources, despite the fact, that country or region could reach the innovationdriven stage.
A number of studies and researchers conclude that the relationships between sustainable development and competitiveness are becoming deeper.
Porter and Linde (1995: 133) pointed out what there is a need for thinking about the relationship between competitiveness and the environment. An underlying logic links the environment, resource productivity, innovation and competitiveness.
According to Wade-Benzoni (1999), maintaining the long-term viability of the earth's ecosystems by using the earth's resources sustainably helps ensure that economic opportunities are kept open for the future generations.
The importance to control balance between economic development, social development, and environmental development was mentioned by Grybaite and Tvaronaviciene (2008). Lapinskiene and Peleckis (2009) have also initiated to establish the relationship between the sustainable development and the economic growth.
Berger (2008: 91) argues that national competitiveness should be seen as a relative rather than an absolute concept that allows for a benchmarking of nations. Some nations support competitiveness more than others by creating an environment that facilitates the competitiveness of enterprises and encourages long-term sustainability.
Taken together, all these researchers …