Working paper abstract

#2009-017

Measuring eco-innovation

Anthony Arundel & René Kemp

In this paper we offer a discussion of eco-innovation and methods for measuring it. Eco-innovation is a new concept of great importance to business and policy makers, covering many innovations of environmental benefit. Past research and measurement activity primarily focused on pollution control and abatement activities or on the environmental goods and services sector. We argue that eco-innovation research and data collection should not be limited to such environmentally motivated innovations, but should encompass all products, processes, or organizational innovations with environmental benefits. Attention should be broadened to include innovation in or oriented towards resource use, energy efficiency, greenhouse gas reduction, waste minimization, reuse and recycling, new materials (for example nanotechnology-based) and eco-design. Research should cover the drivers, patterns, and benefits of eco-innovation for each of these applications, since these factors are likely to differ. For measuring eco-innovation, no single method or indicator is likely to be sufficient. In general, one should therefore apply different methods for analyzing eco-innovation – to see the “whole elephant” instead of just a part. More effort should be devoted towards direct measurement of eco-innovation outputs using documentary and digital sources to complement the current emphasis on innovation inputs such as R&D or patents. Innovation can also be measured indirectly from changes in resource efficiency and productivity. These two avenues are underexplored and should be given more attention in order to augment our rather narrow knowledge basis.

Keywords: eco-innovation, measurement, indicators, data needs. JEL codes O1 en O3

UNU-MERIT Working Papers ISSN 1871-9872