Countries and regions around the world face a number of economic, environmental and social challenges. Increased demand for energy, primary resources (agricultural, forestry and fishing), industrial products and services (healthcare in particular) put significant pressure on the sustainability of the ecosystems that support our society. One option to provide a more sustainable base for the economy would be the transition towards bioeconomy in which the importance of biotechnology and biomass- based production to generate economic output is significantly greater than today. Bioeconomy is considered to encompass all economic activity connected with the utilization of renewable biological resources. The aim of this paper is to draw attention to the importance of bioeconomy in the management of natural resources in the 21st century, providing many answers to resolve the previous challenges together with environmental preservation. The concept has gained scientific and political attention during the recent years, especially in Europe but also globally. From the review and analysis of the literature, this paper addresses the emerging bioeconomy, definitions and conceptual bases, and its great potential in different sectors of economic activity and development of new products. Special emphasis is placed on the case of the European Union. We present the concerns of European authorities at this level and best practices already in force in two Nordic countries that can be regarded as the beginning of a general transition to bioeconomy.