DEVELOPING NEW MARKETS FOR ECO-INNOVATION
To stay at the forefront of global competition with a strong technological base and industrial capabilities, increased strategic investments in research, development, validation and piloting are required in sustainable and green innovative solutions for a worldwide market. Adopted in December 2011, the EU Eco-Innovation Action Plan aims to boost innovations that result in or aim at reducing pressures on the environment and on bridging the gap between research and the market. Partnering is increasingly the main criterion for successfully turning innovation into market solutions and gaining international market shares. Mobilising the full innovation chain is key to ensure sustainable growth in Europe and beyond and allow Europe to maintain its competitive edge at the global level.
Water as a critical resource
Water is one of our most critical resources but, around the world and along with other natural resources, it is under threat. Environmental change is putting water resources and ecosystems services under significant pressure, exacerbating the challenges with which we are faced. Water has a critical role for environmental integrity with one in four people likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water by 2050. The United Nations (UN) Rio+20 conference in June recognised that water is at the core of sustainable development with close links to global challenges such as energy, food, health and poverty eradication. The UN has also declared 2013 as its international year of water co-operation. This mandate will be an opportunity to emphasise the critical role of water for sustainable development, environmental resilience and partnership.
In May 2012, the Commission launched the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on water to facilitate the development of innovative solutions to deal with grand societal challenges, such as water challenges, and at the same time create market opportunities for these solutions. The EIP gathers European, national and local institutions, businesses, academia and all relevant stakeholders to work in partnership and to develop multidisciplinary innovations, from a problem oriented perspective.
The 13th European Forum on Eco-innovation
The 13th Forum will highlight the main challenges and opportunities in research, development and innovation when entering the global market, and aims to promote and support the international collaboration in eco-innovation. The Forum will look specifically at local, regional and global water challenges, and the need for partnerships, demonstrate technologies, methodologies and strategies for better water management in new markets and examine mobilisation of the necessary finance, investment and public-private partnerships. Three European networks are co-operating for meaningful discussions: Eco-Innovera – boosting eco-innovation through co-operation in research and dissemination; Ecopol – public innovation partnership for better policies and instruments in support of eco-innovation; and Environmental-NCP-Together – promoting partnerships and co-operating to improve their effectiveness.
Recommendations – challenges, gaps and emerging issues – formulated during the 13th EcoAP Forum will be made available for consideration for the Strategic Implementation Plan of the EIP on Water, which will outline the priority areas of action.
The forum will therefore address:
- Understanding local, regional and global water challenges, needs and how to realise well-adapted solutions;
- Promoting local and global partnerships, especially with emerging economies;
- Demonstrating the development of technologies, methodologies and strategies in support of better water management for new markets; and
- Mobilisation of finance, investment and public-private partnerships as crucial tools to reach new markets for innovative water management.