What are eco-innovations?


Eco-innovation is innovation for sustainable development


Burren farmers discuss potential eco-innovative farming methods


We define eco-innovations (EI's) as product, process or organisational innovations that contribute to the economic, environmental and social pillars of sustainability. EI are building blocks for sustainable development. They add market value and also increase environmental and social acceptance.

Today, much emphasis is placed on the environmental and economic pillars of EI. We believe that the EI's social pillar (e.g., social acceptance, ownership, learning) represents a major bottleneck to sustainable development. Indeed, many potential eco-innovations, albeit technically feasible, are not yet implemented because of social, institutional, and cognitive barriers.

This emphasis on the social pillar of eco-innovation reflects our concern that the barriers to many relevant eco-innovations, and thus to sustainable development, stand more on the side of social acceptance than on the economic and environmental ones. This concern is not completely alleviated by the current developments of the Environmental Technology Action Plan (ETAP), which does not yet include a comprehensive education component.

For more on the definition of eco-innovation, see this forum.




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