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Encouraging environmental innovation in Europe

Europe's business community is not pursuing environmental innovation as well as it could be. Recommendations following from the ENVINNO project aspire to rectify the situation.

Climate Change and Environment icon Climate Change and Environment

The need to promote sustainable development practices has never been greater. The effects of previously unchecked development are already being felt in the form of serious environmental problems. In the framework of the ENVINNO project, researchers set about trying to gauge the performance of European companies in this area. Background research, interviews, case studies and workshops formed the basis of the project. While the current state of affairs is not as encouraging as would be hoped, straightforward recommendations have been made to get pointed in the right direction. In the business community, the word 'environment' is still linked with cost, risk and other negative connotations. For this reason, Environmental Policy (EP) and Ecology-oriented Technology Policy (ETP) must be accompanied by a strong public marketing scheme. Suggestions include award ceremonies for environmental trendsetters. Many of the EP and ETP recommendations coincide with those of traditional European innovation policy. Of major importance is the inclusion of the economic component in innovation; the science alone is not enough. Invention of a new environmental technology must be accompanied by an in-depth examination of the potential market, particularly feedbacks from other links in the supply chain. The ENVINNO participants also stress the importance of developing a well-defined, yet flexible EP. The policy must be adaptable to the changing market conditions and the constantly evolving environmental standards and targets. All stakeholders should be included in the process and networks should be created to assist knowledge and technology transfer as well as partnering. Finally, ETP must be harmonised with EP. Lack of funding was also defined as a major obstacle, therefore the limited funding available should be targeted to those projects achieving the proper balance between technology and business sense. Further incentive could be achieved with the establishment of green markets. Building on these recommendations will help bring about the change in Europe's business culture necessary to make sustainable development a reality.

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