If you can’t read this email.Please view online

Issue 3, January 2018

Sustainable Growth through Smart Specialisation


Challenges such as health and demographic change, food security, quality education for all, secure and clean water, green and efficient energy sources, climate change, and inclusive and secure communities need the engagement of the universities responding at global and local levels. On one hand, contributing to the global challenges of the world (summarized by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, SDG) and on the other hand, helping the economic, social and cultural development of its nation, region or society.

Engaged universities should develop means to generate advanced knowledge, to create innovative products and processes, to train leaders and professionals and to provide services to enterprises, public administration and non-governmental organizations.

Balancing the global with the local, universities play a key role in the achievement of SDGs. A radical transformation is needed, and the role of universities in this process cannot be a passive one. Universities are called to become a trigger of change, standing at the centre of the debate and moving actors towards action.

Only through the effective collaboration between governments and public agencies, universities and research centres, enterprises and NGOs the implementation of the SDGs will be a reality. (retrieved from the website of International Conference on Sustainable Development Goals: Actors and Implementation, 18-19th September 2017, Barcelona).

What is then the role of RIS3 in achieving these ambitious goals? This is a central question for the current issue of the Thinking Smart Newsletter.

Isidoros Passas (OnlineS3 Project) claims that sustainable growth can be placed at the core of the RIS3. Managing authorities should assess the regional innovation potential and consider investing in the areas of eco-innovation, ecosystem services and sustainable energy, taking into account their specific strengths and weaknesses, possible cross-regional projects and collaborations.

In integrating ecosystem services into RIS3, it is important to take account of sustainable solutions, innovative methods and entrepreneurial ideas that rely on renewable, rather than exhaustible, resources that are available in local ecosystems and that make best use of bio-economy principles.

In our project resources you will find the “Progress report on approaches to mobilising institutional investment for green infrastructure”, published in September 2016, by OECD. It provides comprehensive analysis, data and policy context of the institutional investment in green infrastructure with the focus on renewable energy.

With this newsletter we wish to attract your attention to a sustainable growth policy in the context of RIS3: how can it be supported and developed within regional policy objectives in order to make our communities, cities, regions best place to live.

Initiatives and Projects You Should Know
Key sustainable definitions

Sustainable Development is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainable development is a grand paradigm based on three pillars: economic development, social development and environmental conservation. Meeting the needs of the future depends on how well we balance social, economic and environmental objectives when making decisions today (The Brundtland Commission report of 1987 ‘Our Common Future’)

Green Growth aims to shift the pattern of economic growth towards an environmentally-friendly one. The concept was pioneered by Korea, which embraced a vision of a Low Carbon, Green Growth Model for future economic growth. Currently, the concept has been adopted by many other countries and is being promoted by the OECD and the World Bank. The latter promotes the extended concept of ‘Green and Inclusive Growth’ that addresses the opportunities, which are available to developing countries to take part in the greening of their economies (www.oecd.org/greengrowth, http://go.worldbank.org/).

The Green Economy is the concept developed by UNEP - the Green Economy Initiative. and is defined as an economy that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. In its simplest expression, a Green Economy can be thought of as one that is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive. Its growth in income and employment is driven by public and private investments, which reduce carbon emissions and pollution, enhance energy and resource efficiency and prevent the loss of bio-diversity and ecosystem services (www.unep.org/greeneconomy).

The Sustainable Growth concept is applied in the EU context as one of three priority areas in the Europe 2020 strategy. It has a clearly defined focus on the promotion of the competitiveness of the EU economy, including capitalisation on its leadership in green technologies, promoting smart grids, improving the business environment, especially for SMEs, and influencing consumer choice. Sustainable Growth is also about attaining environmental objectives such as decreasing the carbon intensity of the economy, promoting the efficient and sustainable use of resources, protecting the environment, reducing emissions and preventing loss of bio-diversity.

Smart Growth means improving the EU’s performance in education, research/innovation and the digital society. This is to be done by: encouraging people to learn, study and update their skills; improving academic excellence and the performance of universities; creating new products/services that generate growth and jobs and help to address social challenges; and diffusing information and communication technologies.

Inclusive Growth contributes to growth in Europe’s employment rate. This entails more and better jobs, especially for women, young people and older workers, and helping people of all ages anticipate and manage change through investment in skills and training. It also involves modernising labour markets and welfare systems and ensuring that the benefits of growth reach all parts of the EU.

The Bio-economy concept in the EU focuses on maintaining and creating economic growth and jobs in rural, coastal and industrial areas, reducing fossil fuel dependence and improving the economic and environmental sustainability of primary production and processing industries. The Europe 2020 Strategy calls for a bio-economy to become a key element in achieving smart and green growth in Europe. The EU Bio-economy Strategy and its Action Plan aim to pave the way to a more innovative, resource efficient and competitive society that reconciles food security with the sustainable use of renewable resources for industrial purposes, whilst ensuring environmental protection ( http://ec.europa.eu/ research).

Eco-innovation is any innovation that reduces the use of natural resources and decreases the release of harmful substances across the whole lifecycle. Eco-innovation can be found in all forms of new, or significantly improved, products, goods, services, processes, marketing methods, organisational structures, institutional arrangements and lifestyle and social behaviours, which lead to environmental improvements compared to relevant alternatives.

This Might Be a Smart Thing

Visit the Thinking Smart website regularly


Smart Events and Books
The first European Day of Sustainable Communities, 23rd September 2017

This event presented many groundbreaking initiatives from across Europe that are leading the way towards a low-carbon, ecological future.

Read More
Impacts World 2017: Counting the true costs of climate change, October 2017

Over 450 participants, from 68 countries joined us for three thought-provoking, inspiring and challenging days in Potsdam.

Read More

Eco-innovation for air quality, Sofia, Bulgaria, 5-6 February 2018

Read More
The Civic University : The Policy and Leadership Challenges

Edited by John Goddard, Edited by Ellen Hazelkorn, Edited by Louise Kempton, Edited by Paul Vallance

A sustainable case


Driving eco-innovation
The University of Lancaster has established the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, an award winning centre which supports the development of new products and services with environmental benefits. The centre delivers high quality business led research, through enabling enterprises to access the expertise resources and global contacts of Lancaster University and its national and international partners. The centre - which supports businesses in the development of new products and services with environmental benefits - is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Positive environmental impact
Eco-innovation is a key mechanism for delivering the changes required to respond to climate change and will support the global need to live well within the limits of the planet. It has the power to decouple global economic growth from resource use.

It is fully consistent with delivering solutions to economic and technological priorities expressed in other terms, for example, “clean energy”, “low carbon”, “sustainable agriculture”, “sustainable development”, “green economy”, “bio-economy” or “circular economy”.

Eco-innovation is a key mechanism for delivering the changes required to respond to climate change and will be an integral part of the successful transformation towards a world-wide green economy.

The centre has helped more than 300 businesses to develop over the previous three years and is open to work with a similar number over the next three. Projects have ranged from tidal energy systems to new ways of growing crops.

Dr Andy Pickard, Manager at the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, said: “We are currently looking for research project opportunities from one month to one year in duration. We are also seeking businesses with challenges which our research base can address to deliver low carbon solutions in all sectors."

This event will showcase the current group of SME-led research projects, including intensive three-year PhD research and development projects, short term projects and Low Carbon Innovation Forum delegates. The Low Carbon Innovation Forum is a peer-to-peer network of businesses supported by Lancaster University Management School to build capacity in businesses as to how to address low carbon innovation.

Lancaster University is working with partner institutes to deliver this support across Lancashire, Cheshire, Cumbria and Merseyside. Colleagues from delivery partners at the Universities of Cumbria, Chester, Central Lancashire, Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology a will also be at the event. (Retrieved from http://www.globalecoinnovation.org/)

This website reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

If you do not wish to receive further updates, please Unsubscribe