Eco-Innovation is a key issue on the European policy agenda. The Europe 2020 strategy puts forward three mutually reinforcing priorities:
- Smart growth: developing an economy based on knowledge and innovation.
- Sustainable growth: promoting a more resource efficient, greener and more competitive economy.
- Inclusive growth: fostering a high-employment economy delivering social and territorial cohesion.
To reach these goals, seven flagship initiatives have been developed and launched. Two of them are highly important for the implementation of eco-innovation:
- "Innovation Union" to improve framework conditions and access to finance for research and innovation so as to ensure that innovative ideas can be turned into products and services that create growth and jobs.
- "Resource efficient Europe" to help decouple economic growth from the use of resources, support the shift towards a low carbon economy, increase the use of renewable energy sources, modernise our transport sector and promote energy efficiency.
The Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP) was adopted by the European Commission in January 2004 to boost innovation, growth and sustainable development in Europe. The Action Plan is intended to boost development and use of environmental technologies to improve European compe-titiveness in this area, and enable the EU to become the recognised world leader. The European Commission is co-operating closely with Member States and industry to make this a reality. Priority is given to the following areas:
- Getting from research to markets: actions improving the innovation process and moving inventions from laboratories to the market
- Improving market conditions: actions aiming at encouraging the market uptake of environmental technologies and providing positive incentives such as regulatory frameworks, voluntary schemes, access to finance and green procurement
- Acting globally: actions supporting environmental technologies in developing countries, and promoting foreign investment.
The ETAP will be followed up by an Eco-Innovation Action Plan that will be published in 2011.
At the international level, Eco-Innovation is also a key issue. The OECD project on Sustainable Manu-facturing and Eco-Innovation focused in a first step on the development of an analytical framework and a review of the state of current knowledge in industrial practices, policy initiatives and measure-ment. The results were published in the report “Eco-Innovation in Industry: Enabling Green Growth” in 2010 as a contribution to the OECD Innovation Strategy and the Green Growth Strategy.
Eco-Innovation requires cross-sector policy efforts
Eco-Innovation covers technological and non-technological innovation in all sectors and markets, taking into account the environmental, economic and social dimension. Therefore its implementation requires joint activities by different policy makers along the whole value chain:
- Research policy: supporting research, development and invention on
- Classification, parameters and indicators for eco-innovation
- Technological Eco-Innovation with impact on the whole value chain:
e.g. significant enhancement of energy and/ or resource efficiency,
closed material flow cycles, cross-sector impact - unlocking markets
- Non-technological eco-innovation: new services and business models
- Demand site/socio-economic needs: awareness and attractiveness of
Eco-Innovation for consumers
- Environmental policy: supporting the decrease of environmental burden
- Labels and standards for Eco-Innovation
- Forward-looking measures to stimulate the broad diffusion of new
Eco-Innovation technologies in industry/SMEs
- Incorporate Eco-Innovations as a central pillar into environmental
- Dissemination activities to steer the broad uptake of Eco-Innovations
into the society
- Economic policy: supporting European industry/SMEs to reach and keep a
leading global postion
- Supporting the permeability between markets and sectors to ease the
diffusion of Eco-Innovations
- Reduction of obstacles by adaptation of infrastructure
- Financial incentives to implement Eco-Innovations
- Regulatory instruments
- Portal Europe 2020 Strategy
- Europe 2020 Strategy document (2010)
- Portal Flagship Initiative Innovation Union
- Innovation Union document (2010)
- Innovation Union - Rational for Action (2010)
- Portal Flagship Initiative Ressource Efficient Europe
- Resource efficient Europe Document (2011)