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International Conference discussed eco-innovation policies and opportunities in Tel Aviv

International Conference discussed eco-innovation policies and opportunities in Tel Aviv

Eco-innovation can provide an effective answer to address environmental challenges and overcome resource constraints, but public interventions in this area are complex and need to guided by a consistent long-term vision that encourages the involvement of private investors.  This was one of the main messages of the International Conference "Promoting Eco-innovation: policies and opportunities", which the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe organized  in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel and the Prime Minister's Office.
The Conference, which was held under the patronage of the Prime Minister of Israel, HE Benjamin Netanyahu, gathered in Tel Aviv (11-13 July 2011) policy-makers, academics and private sector representatives from many UNECE member states, thus providing an opportunity for a wide exchange of views. The Conference reviewed policy experiences in different countries, discussed various initiatives to foster collaboration on eco-innovation and considered how to address the financing problems faced by eco-innovative enterprises.
Eco-innovation can result in significant reductions in the material costs of companies and therefore, represents a source of competitiveness. Gilad Erdan, Minister of Environmental Protection of Israel, stated that "eco-innovation is a source of green growth and jobs" that seeks an optimal use of resources. Hence the importance of "sharing successes" in order to develop workable ecological and environmental solutions.
UNECE Executive Secretary Ján Kubiš also underlined during his intervention the importance of international collaboration, as a way to facilitate technology transfer, bridge gaps in R&D and disseminate good policy practices.  He concluded  that "in today's closely interconnected world, there is an obvious need for cooperative approaches that address common challenges while creating better conditions to materialize the opportunities resulting from a global economy."  
Brice Lalonde, Executive Coordinator for the UN Conference for Sustainable Development (Rio+20), stressed that many technologies are already available and that the challenge is how to facilitate the diffusion through the world. "Action is required" to translate what we know into effective solutions.
Eugene Kandel, Chief Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel, noted that innovation and technological change have allowed modern societies to "do more with less" , thus overcoming resource constraints. Israel is an excellent example of what can be achieved on this area, providing solutions that could be scaled-up through international collaboration.
Many speakers emphasized the need to embrace a broad concept of eco-innovation, which goes beyond a focus on R&D and industry to include life-cycle considerations and the environmental impact of consumption patterns. This widely shared view stressed the need for policy coordination on many different issues and the use of a wide-range of instruments. Eco-innovation policies are not a niche area but are increasingly seen as a mainstream strategic concern with multiple ramifications.
The main conclusion of this Conference will be used as an input to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).
Presentations made at the Conference are available at:
Ref: ECE/ECID/11/P05

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