In 2019, Ireland ranks 13th in Europe in the Eco-Innovation Scoreboard with a score of 97, slightly below the EU average. This year marks an overall stagnation. Nevertheless, important variations can be detected in each of the five components in the period between 2017 and 2019. While eco-innovation inputs and outputs, as well as socio-economic outcomes dropped, eco-innovation activities doubled, and resource efficiency outcomes slightly ameliorated.

Over the period 2018-2019, Ireland has benefited from a strong economic recovery (albeit in a context of Brexit uncertainty), with technological diffusion as a driver. Ireland is considered a strong innovator in the EU and is leading in digital technologies. However, the country is less ambitious in eco-innovation, and companies have a low appetite for the uptake of eco-efficient technologies, despite investments. The country has worked for several decades on resource efficiency and yet continues to have a material consumption well above the EU average. The lack of a clear pathway towards climate transition has meant that the economy has not yet adapted to the mass uptake of green alternatives. Strong support for the bioeconomy for example, has not yet significantly helped greening the agricultural sector. This situation can in part be attributed to human resource and knowledge capital issues, in a country where quasi full employment is not conducive to life-long training. The uptake of eco-innovations is also strongly dependent on the provision and accessibility of renewable energy, a successful sector. The policy landscape is undergoing revision and several key policy frameworks were recently launched or revised, from national planning, to enterprise strategy, with a strengthening of environmental policies such as waste, energy, and green public procurement. While public discourse increasingly takes into consideration citizens’ environmental concerns, people’s behaviour is still in need of adjustment to ensure the uptake of eco-innovation products and services.

2019 Eco-innovation Scoreboard ranking and eco-innovation index composites for Ireland

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