Environment

The Eco-innovation Forum – driving international innovation

14/10/2015

Eco-innovation has a key role in delivering the European Commission’s upcoming circular economy strategy. Meetings like the Eco-innovation Forum can help pioneer resource-efficient growth through international collaboration. 

Eco-innovation is important in closing the loop earlier in product life cycles, and incentivising new business models that use resources more effectively. Collaboration between stakeholders, businesses and regional decision-makers is vital in the process. Collaborative approaches are crucial in enabling eco-innovative businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to enter existing markets and develop new ones.

[The eco-industries] market is worth a trillion euros and is expected to double in under five years.




Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs

The Commission’s Eco-innovation Forum provides an excellent platform for business leaders and policy-makers to exchange best practices and develop links that can foster green growth.

This year’s Forum, the 19th, takes place in Seoul (Republic of Korea) from 27-28 October 2015. ‘Business opportunities in eco-innovation: materials and products for a sustainable future’ presents the latest trends in circular economy policy in the EU and South Korea, promoting existing collaborative opportunities for eco-innovative businesses and a selection of case studies and best practices. It also features a matchmaking event for South Korean and European SMEs and further networking opportunities during a visit to Korea’s largest eco-industries trade fair.

The Forum is a timely occasion to see how innovation can contribute to sustainable development. One of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals, for example, aims at “the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle […], significantly reducing their release to air, water and soil in order to minimise their adverse impacts on human health and the environment”. Making this a reality will need enhanced cooperation between public- and private-sector innovation to make industrial production processes cleaner.

The chemical industry is at the core of this transformation. In 2013, the EU was the world’s leading exporter of chemicals, with 42.5 % of global chemicals exports. Eleven of the top 30 major chemicals-producing countries are European, generating sales worth €543 billion. However, 12 of the top 30 largest chemicals producers are Asian, accounting for 51.5 % of the world market, which indicates the complexity of the supply chain.

The EU and the Republic of Korea are determined to take measures to promote the transition into a more circular economy, as highlighted last September at a bilateral summit designed to strengthen their strategic partnership.

Innovators need reliable partners to export and adapt their solutions, and events like the Forum have been established with that in mind. The Seoul meeting is a chance to explore existing cooperation mechanisms, helping innovators to access global markets in the broader EU-Asia context. This year's focus is on opportunities for eco-innovation in the chemicals sector, as well as exploring support for innovative businesses with news about best practices.

 

Industry and technology