Enablers & barriers to eco-innovation
Concern over the environmental impacts of global production patterns has generated interest in eco-innovation as a means to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation (OECD 2009).
Eco-innovation has been defined as innovation in products, services, technologies and new business and organisation models which reduce environmental impacts and increase resource efficiency.
To date eco-innovation has been largely limited to incremental environmental improvements through the redesign of products and production processes. There are few examples of higher levels of eco-innovation, defined as alternative products to meet the same function and design for a sustainable society (Charter & Clark 2007) which many believe are critical for decoupling to occur (Reid & Miedzinski 2008). This has resulted in the OCED (2009) calling for greater policy intervention to accelerate higher levels of eco-innovation and for an increased understanding of the barriers to eco-innovation.
What we will investigate and how
We are researching five New Zealand examples of higher levels of eco-innovation within the transport and waste-to-energy sectors. These are initially being written up as case studies, which will be published and contribute to an OECD project on eco-innovation.
While eco-innovation studies have often focused on firm level activity, the ability for higher level eco-innovation is influenced by factors situated at firm, sector, and societal levels (Smith et al 2010). We will therefore analyse the case studies within their broader socio-technological systems (transport and waste-to-energy) as well as examining firm level factors.
We will then assess New Zealand’s environmental and innovation policies against the research findings, the OECD’s eco-innovation policy recommendations (2009) and a selection of successful eco-innovation initiatives undertaken by other OECD countries, in order to identify policy interventions which might increase eco-innovation in New Zealand.
Expected outcomes and achievements
The research is expected to:
- Identify factors that could lead to significant levels of eco-innovation creation and diffusion, and factors that have constrained eco-innovation within New Zealand.
- Contribute analysis to policy discussion nationally and globally by identifying structural constraints to, and enabling policy for, higher levels of eco-innovation.