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OECD Global Forum calls for broader perspective on eco-innovation

28/07/2011

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Key messages emerging from the OECD Global Forum on Eco-innovation suggest policy makers and stakeholders view eco-innovation as more than just the invention of new technologies.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Forum in Paris on 4 and 5 November 2009 presented an opportunity to evaluate global eco-innovation policies. By bringing policy makers from environment, science and technology, industry and innovation together with companies involved in the development and deployment of environmental technologies, the forum addressed the challenges of how to make environmental and innovation policies mutually supportive; how to induce eco-innovation in the most effective way; and how to support the dissemination of eco-innovation.

According to Xavier Leflaive, OECD Environmental Directorate, the key messages centred on the need to ensure policy makers adopted a holistic approach to eco-innovation. To cultivate eco-innovation development, policies must address issues ranging from invention and transfer to adaptation and diffusion.

During the Forum, Mr Hervé Martin, representing the DG Environment Eco-innovation unit, chaired a session on strengthening the design of policy instruments for eco-innovation. This session looked at the Member States’ experiences implementing their ETAP National Roadmaps, as well as similar schemes in other OECD countries. It was also an opportunity to draw conclusions about the most effective ways of inducing innovation which can serve the objectives of environmental policies.

A common theme was the need for a broader perspective. It is important that eco-innovation is not viewed solely as technology innovation, but rather also as both incremental innovation and systemic, transformative change.

The quantity of innovation is not the issue. Rather than merely stimulating technology development, eco-innovation policies must aid development and uptake of technologies, services or systemic solutions that deliver tangible impacts on environmental challenges. There is a need for indicators on co-benefits to address the impact of eco-innovation policies on sustainable development and poverty alleviation in the developing world.

In terms of how policy instruments interact and ultimately influence eco-innovation, it is essential that governments coordinate and manage the accumulative impact of policies relating to eco-innovation. The knock-on effect of decisions made with regards to green public procurement, R&D, fiscal incentives and energy efficiency standards must be considered.

Technology transfer to developing countries could also be significantly improved. To accelerate such transfers, priority should be given to the development of indigenous innovative capabilities. This will enable local communities to implement existing environmental technologies, and encourage them to develop their own eco-innovations.

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Related information on the EcoAP Website

    • ‘Building capacity for technology transfer in eco-innovation’ Deutsch (de) español (es) français (fr) italiano (it)