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2035: Paths towards a sustainable EU economy - Sustainable transitions and the potential of eco-innovation for jobs and economic development in the EU eco-industries 2035

2035: Paths towards a sustainable EU economy - Sustainable transitions and the potential of eco-innovation for jobs and economic development in the EU eco-industries 2035
©EU
Abstract: 
In view of the many current unsustainable resources use and environmental degradation trends, ensuring future success requires reducing the negative emissions and environmental impacts of economic activities, decreasing resources use to get back into the range of natural sustainability while creating new opportunities for people to make a decent living. This foresight study aimed at developing long-term visions for eco-industries (Horizon 2035), identifying relevant trends and drivers, highlighting implications for EU policies and describing realistic and desirable possible futures. A systemic approach to eco-industries was taken by defining them as a stream of business activities across and within the entire industrial segment of society encompassing "Green industries" (environmental industries), "Industries greening"(other industries adopting eco-innovations) and "Eco-innovative solution providers" (R&D, new business models, organisational/social innovation, integrators). The study followed a classic foresight approach to develop four scenarios (Multiple Connected Initiatives, Shared Circular Strategies, Compact Green Innovation and Local Self-Resilience). For each scenario, an imaginary eco-industries landscape was built allowing for a systemic understanding of the alternative worlds and for the identification of four sets of policy recommendations to promote sustainability. The scenarios were constructed around societal values (varying between individualistic and collaborative) and the fiscal framework (varying between traditional and strongly supporting sustainability. They took into account a set of likely megatrends: world population reaching 8.6 billion, a global consuming class having increased by 4 billion people, the first generation of "digital natives" in power, global warming having already reached 2°C (with the accompanying consequences) and increasing urbanisation. All this would happen in a context of continuing technological development (ICT, biotechnologies, materials, mobile technologies, sensors…) that will lead to a hyper-connected world. In order to help communicate the scenarios, four characters (Clement, Sophia, Leo and Leila) were created. They were given life in four narratives corresponding to the four scenarios. Each character is most successful in a different scenario. The robust intellectual framework created by these four scenarios has proven its worth as a platform to engage in systemic reflections with a very wide range of people. To reach an even wider range of stakeholders and improve usefulness for policy making a serious game, the JRC Scenario Exploration System, was developed.