In September 2011, the Royal Society of New Zealand responded to the “Green Growth – Issues for New Zealand” discussion paper from the Government’s Green Growth Advisory Group. Their paper raised issues about our “clean and green” branding, about technology and innovation, and about the role of small and medium-sized enterprises in green growth.
The Society responded to the second area regarding the smarter use of technology and innovation. To summarise this response: firm-level innovation issues are important, but system-level innovation issues are also critical and can determine the rate of progress towards innovative green growth. A broader approach to thinking about innovation policy is needed to deliver on the promise of green growth.
The rate and scale of the economic transformation needed to avoid climate change and other planetary limits will be vast and unprecedented. The UN has called for a “technological revolution” and the OECD has called for eco-innovation to deliver “radial and systemic improvements”. Given this demand for rapid change, innovation policy will need to deliver on a scale never achieved before. The Society puts forward the idea that it will not be sufficient to align business and environmental incentives. In the Twenty-First Century, that alignment should be an expectation and a starting-point for more active policies that support new industries, new technologies, and new innovations across the spectrum of human activity.