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EMININN Report Summary

Project ID: 283002
Funded under: FP7-ENVIRONMENT
Country: Germany

Periodic Report Summary 2 - EMININN (Environmental Macro Indicators of Innovation)

Project Context and Objectives:
The Europe 2020 strategy is supposed to pave the way for the EU to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy. Its “Flagship Initiative for a Resource-Efficient Europe” aims at promoting sustainable growth and supports a shift towards a resource-efficient, low-carbon economy.
Do we actually know what a “sustainable growth” means? How could we assess implications of major transitions promoted by the European Commission and other governmental actors such as development of a bio-based economy, a green economy, or a low-carbon society? What kind of innovation would be required for that? What does this mean for our energy systems, for transport, for Information and Communication Technology (ICT), for construction or waste management?
A sustainable growth, a green or a circular economy require social and technological innovations. In contrast to plain growth strategies or economic stimulus programs they do not intend to encourage any innovations, but innovations which would support the transition towards sustainability. Thus, innovation intended by Europe 2020 strategy would have a direction. Yet, it is difficult to assess whether specific innovations support a transition in a desired direction or not. Positive or negative macro-environmental impacts of innovations are often unknown. Environmental impacts cannot simply be attributed to specific properties of technologies (e.g. the fuel efficiency of cars). Their contribution to changes of the environment (e.g. by greenhouse effect) are a product of physical, behavioural, social and economic factors. The can amplify or suppress the pressure on the environment or they simply do not play a role at all. A “green” car may be an additional car instead of a substitute. Money saved through fuel-saving might result in shifted expenditures with low or high negative environmental impacts. Positive micro or meso impacts of eco-innovation may be outweighed at the macro level by larger-scale processes which they may have catalysed.
The European research project EMInInn tracks the past development and diffusion through the economy of pervasive innovations that can be expected to have had an appreciable positive or negative environmental impact. EMInInn aims at generating deeper insights into the role of innovation in decoupling environmental impacts from economic growth, helping policy makers to both assess the benefits from past innovations as well as maximize benefits from present and emerging innovations.
The general objectives of EMInInn are:
• The delivery of accurate and comprehensive information on the environmental impacts of innovation to strengthen the science-policy link in order to enable policy makers to stimulate eco-innovation and to both assess and maximise its benefits.
• Development of methodologies and quantification of macro-level indicators to monitor the ex-post impacts of innovation processes, including diffusion of innovations into society, their economic impacts, and their impacts on key environmental categories (namely resource flows, waste and recycling, energy, emissions, and land use and partners).
• Contribution to the identification of drivers and barriers relating to eco-innovation, thereby facilitating the full recognition of eco-innovation potential.
• Support for the decision-making process on policy targets and methods for evaluating the environmental impacts of innovation and other relevant policies on the basis of physical indicators.
The EMInInn partner’s research and development objectives:
• Combine the insights and outcomes of recent advanced initiatives and research projects on the measurement of innovation.
• Compile and systematize from different sources the available data to measure the environmental impacts of innovation.
• Provide a common understanding on eco-innovation by creating common definitions and analytical boundaries that will enable the development of ex-post assessments and modeling of the environmental effects of innovation.
• Apply, combine and, where appropriate, integrate methods, tools and approaches to show the macro-environmental results of past innovations in a range of different fields, thereby to create or enhance the ability to make ex-post assessments and modeling of innovation and its related (environmental) impacts in the areas of resource flows, waste and recycling, energy, emissions, and land use and biodiversity.
• Improve the ability to monitor and assess secondary environmental and economic impacts of innovation (e.[*]g[/*]. [~]rebound[/~] effects).
• On the basis of the assessment of the results, make recommendations that will support policy makers in the design of innovation policies and framework conditions.
• Identify innovations and novel system configurations that may be able to contribute to absolute decoupling of economic growth and environmental pressure as well as to the conditions for this to occur.

Project Results:
EMInInn has established a joint understanding and methodological approaches on macro environmental impacts (WP1) and innovation measurements (WP2) and has combined this in a general analytical framework (WP3). Harmonised approaches were documented in methodological background papers, which describe the essentials needed to carry out the ex-post assessment of the innovations addressed in the case studies:
1. EMInInn framework for ex-post analysis of innovation at macro-level
2. EMInInn glossary of terms
3. Environmental indicators for the EMInInn project
4. Innovation indicators
5. Methods and models for the EMInInn project
6. Case study on the proposed framework for the ex-post analysis of innovation
The interactions of experts, researchers and stakeholders contributed to set out coherently, on the one hand, macro-indicators and data of environmental pressures and, on the other hand, indicators and data to measure innovations. The commonly agreed definitions and delineations are the basis for selecting appropriate analytical frameworks to operationalize assessments of environmental pressures associated with innovation on a macro scale. Phase 2 of the project has analysed on the macro level the ex-post effects of innovations in five sectors:
1. energy
2. transport
3. construction
4. ICT and
5. waste.
Even though EMInInn is primarily about ex-post assessment of environmental impacts, WP9 will additionally perform macro-modelling and ex-ante assessments. WP9 builds upon the ex-post analysis in WP4-8. These WPs after all give historical insight in a variety of very important mechanisms that are of relevance to predict the future impacts of new eco-innovations, as well as potential diffusion speed, etc. Using such insights in an ex-ante analysis will help to develop insight into if and if yes how policy targets can be designed.

Potential Impact:
In phase 3 (Policy implications and dissemination) EMInInn will further strengthen the science-policy link through the interaction with experts, stakeholders and policy-makers. In that context EMInInn will address EU policies, which affect three main areas that are related to major environmental pressures:
1. resources and waste,
2. energy and climate, as well as
3. land-use and biodiversity.

List of Websites:


Cornelia Meierbröcker, (Project Management and Administration)
Tel.: +49 202 2492 275
Fax: +49 202 2492 200
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