View into the conference hall

Challenges and Opportunities for International Cooperation

Private sector a key driver of eco-innovations in developing countries

27.-28 January 2014 | Scandic Hotel | Berlin | Germany

Decoupling economic growth from resource consumption and the growing pressures on the environment and climate are the most important issues affecting our shared future. Eco-innovations, new products and production processes, business models and utilization systems that conserve important natural assets, are needed worldwide to meet these challenges.

On behalf of the BMZ and in cooperation with the “Innovative Approaches for Private Sector Development” Sector Project, the GIZ’s Development Policy Forum organised an international dialogue on “Eco-Innovation Systems in Developing Countries”. On January 27 and 28, 2014, representatives from bi- and multilateral development cooperation, corporations, and scientists from Europe, developing countries and emerging nations met to discuss the potential for and challenges to promoting environmental innovation in developing countries.

In his welcoming speech, Parliamentary State Secretary Christian Schmidt emphasised the role of the private sector as a driver of sustainable economic development and innovation. German development cooperation has therefore long supported the private sector in developing countries, most recently to the tune of 916 billion euros (2012).

Prof Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam illustrated the urgency of eco-innovation, sketching out the steps needed to ensure eco-innovations could be implemented and popularised. These included using and promoting local resources for eco-innovations, governmental incentive systems, and setting unified standards. Representatives from developing and emerging nations confirmed the potential of eco-innovations for advancing the private sectors of their respective countries. Here, they added, it was important to draw attention to local challenges such as desertification and hazardous waste.

Over the course of the day, participants discussed concrete project examples from the areas of resource efficiency and recycling, exploring how eco-innovations could be encouraged and what difficulties needed to be overcome along the way. The consensus: Only a systematic approach that considered both cultural differences and the power of economic interest groups promised positive results.

On the second day, the guests, many of whom had travelled quite far to attend, visited Berlin’s EUREF Campus, a centre for innovation and future projects with locations throughout Europe. They discussed ideas and business models for start-up companies in the clean technology field. The EU-financed Climate KIC (Knowledge and Innovation Community) on the campus works with the private sector to promote innovative top-flight research, thus contributing to improving Europe’s competitiveness in innovate eco-technologies.

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