1.10 Environmental innovation
Innovation is relevant to environmental management because environmental management is an innovation. That is quite a bold statement, which you are not expected to agree with – especially without some justification. Let me explain.
The last 150 years have seen a significant increase in global, national, community, organisational and individual concerns about environmental health, quality and futures, including climate change. The emphasis on environmental management in policy and practice, from global agreements to national policy through to local level planning, is – in the EU context at least – a change in the managing of human–environment relations. In this respect, environmental management as an idea represents an innovation in the possible governance arrangements for many countries, communities, organisations and individuals. Whether that has translated into viable policies and practice is an entirely different debate.
Evidence that those engaging in environmental management are at the frontier of advocating innovations in human–environment relations can be found in the many governments, businesses and other organisations seeking opportunities in their various inter-organisational relations to support the turn to a more sustainable or ‘green’ economy – even if these initiatives and what constitutes a sustainable or green economy also remains debatable.
The extent of the development of innovations relating to environmental improvements has reached a point where they are often grouped into their own category: so called eco-innovation.