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Poland planning for EU environment and eco-innovation

24/11/2011

  • Experts interviews
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As holder of the EU presidency for the second half of 2011, Poland sees eco-innovation as crucial for many of the environmental goals it puts at the top of the European agenda.

Poland’s environmental priorities are climate change, biodiversity, resource efficiency and preparations for the Rio+20 conference in 2012 according to the Polish environment ministry spokesperson Magda Sikorska.

What does the Polish Presidency hope to achieve on each of its green priorities?

On climate change, our goal is to develop a pragmatic mandate in the Council to strengthen the EU’s position as a leader in the international climate negotiations. The Presidency will strive to make significant progress to reaching a single, comprehensive, legally-binding agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban.

One of the major obstacles the EU must surmount to halt biodiversity loss by 2020 is finding funds to implement its biodiversity action plan. The Presidency intends to conduct discussions on this topic, which may contribute to work on the next EU budget from 2014 to 2020 and the new LIFE+ fund.

On resource efficiency, the Presidency intends to focus on a cross-sectoral approach with particular emphasis on prolonging product life-cycles, energy efficiency, greening production and consumption, and strengthening the reuse and recycling markets. The Presidency will promote intra-EU dialogue to prepare for the Rio+20 Summit in 2012.

What is the Polish vision for resource efficiency in particular?

Resource efficiency is a flagship initiative of the Europe 2020 strategy on growth and jobs. Striving to eliminate the dependence of economic growth on degradation of the natural environment also makes resource efficiency one of the basics of environment protection policy. It should be part of a seventh Environmental Action Plan.

Intensive consumption of resources by EU countries and high dependence on raw material imports constitute a threat to Europe’s resource security. Our objective should be more sustainable resource management. We should strive to separate economic growth from resource consumption and limit the influence of the former on the environment.

What is the role of eco-innovation in helping Europe meet its environmental and economic goals?

The objective of technological innovation as stated in the Europe 2020 strategy is its application to problems such as climate change and energy efficiency. To deliver on this objective, it is necessary to strengthen each element of the innovation process, from research projects to commercial application of their results.

Europe 2020 sets out to stimulate green growth by supporting research and innovation, especially in addressing climate change and energy. Eco-innovation is also a key tool for resource efficiency. It is through this that Europe can develop a thriving economy which does not come at the expense of the environment.

The Polish Presidency has underlined that eco-innovation is crucial by making efficient use of resources one of its environmental priorities. Becoming more resource efficient is imperative for Europe's economic recovery in a context of increasingly scarce raw materials.

The transition to a resource-efficient economy should increase EU competitiveness and create new opportunities for businesses, stable forms of employment and the development of innovative technologies. The European Commission presented a Roadmap for a resource-efficient Europe in September and the Polish Presidency is working on Council Conclusions on this topic.

What can and should the EU be doing to help drive eco-innovation?

There is no doubt that eco-innovation is gaining in significance. More focus should be put on policy aimed at supporting enterprises that create environmental technologies, but also on those that purchase these technologies. Environmental legislation is vital for better management of resources and protection of the environment.

Measures aimed at enhancing research and development in eco-innovation should be underlined in the new EU budget. At national level it is vital to consider the environment in public procurement and to promote eco-friendly enterprises. Businesses should be encouraged to buy green and eco-innovation investments made attractive through green labels.

Instruments at national level should be complementary to those offered at EU level and take into consideration country-specific conditions. Countries with high innovation performance need different measures from those of countries with low innovation performance. Eco-innovation as an aspect of innovation often needs similar instruments to stimulate market development, however.

National governments also need to think about new instruments based on risk sharing that provide innovation incentives to develop technologies which reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The development of energy technologies involves close co-operation between Member States and exchange of best available techniques at Community level.

Are there specific economic sectors with particular potential for eco-innovation?

Eco-innovation could be influential in all economic sectors. Current priority areas for the EU include material recycling, sustainable building products, the food-and-drink industry and ‘smart’ purchasing.

More information

Related information on the EcoAP Website