The 4th European Forum on Eco-innovation in Vienna on 31 January and 1 February 2008 debated key recommendations on how the EU can boost its position in the global market for environmental technologies.
Jointly organised by the Austrian Minister for the Environment, the Swedish Ministry of the Environment and the European Commission, the Vienna Forum brought together experienced business managers, policymakers, financial experts and academics to share key insights and discuss opportunities for small and large-scale businesses. Plenary sessions alternated with small work groups, enabling numerous opportunities for networking with ample time for discussion and exchange of experience.
“To unlock global markets, we need an enabling framework, a strong home market and specific governmental support,” emphasised Timo Makela, Director for Sustainable Development and Integration, DG Environment. “A series of action is already underway as we need to change and to start changing now.”
Cornerstone of European strategy
Eco-innovation is a cornerstone of European strategy, strongly supported by succeeding Union presidencies, and offers a major opportunity for the EU economy. Europe is already a strong global player in eco industries with around 30% of overall world turnover, and more than 50% in water and waste management.
However, there is a strong need to improve the European position further as the worldwide environmental technology market is forecast to double to some €2 300 billion by 2020. The current EU turnover in this sector is €227 billion, accounting for 2.2% of GDP and generating 3.4 million jobs. In particular, the EU is championing eco-innovation practices in construction, food and drink, private transport and recycling.
Key recommendations from the key European stakeholders involved in the Vienna forum cover legislation, marketing and funding, focusing on unlocking opportunities for companies both large and small. They include:
These actions are now being passed to European and national policymakers for consideration.