Thursday, 24 June 2010

The incremental and radical dilemmas of eco-innovation at the OECD

I was at the OECD yesterday, participating in a workshop that informs the development of an innovation handbook, as part of the new OECD Innovation Strategy. My role was to act as Rapporteur for the eco-innovation break-out group.

Our group consisted of government advisors, civil servants, policy analysts and researchers. What struck me most was just how widespread was the recognition, that eco-innovation that is truly sustainable requires the transformation of production and consumption systems, and not solely the incremental improvement in environmental performance of existing trajectories of product, service and process development.

It was hoped that sustainable 'systems innovation' would be win-win in the long-term. Personally, I am not so sure - it depends upon one's position - but everyone did recognise that in the shorter-term, there were some powerful innovation pathways being taken now that were making it difficult for system-level eco-innovations to succeed.

Addressing this termporal challenge requires institutional reforms that will be highly political in nature

Adrian Smith

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