INTERREG project recommend - eco-management : eco innovation
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introduction
About RECOMMEND

One of the EUs priorities is to foster efficient, greener and sustainable use of resources. Based on that vision RECOMMEND provides enterprises and public authorities information on instruments and funding schemes for new ecological measures in the business sector. Improving eco-management and eco-innovation at a regional level will help to meet the current environmental and economic challenges at the European level.

RECOMMEND is an INTERREG IVC project running from 1st January 2012 until 31st December 2014. It is co-financed by the European Union's Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with 1.089.996,68 million EUR. The total project budget is 1.352.264,80.


context
economic growth and environmental protection can go hand in hand.

Europe 2020 is a 10-year growth strategy proposed by the European Commission for reviving the economy of the European Union. It aims to build a resource efficient, greener and more competitive economy with sustainable growth during the current decade.

The RECOMMEND partnership strongly believes that fostering eco-management and eco-innovation systems at a regional level will play a significant role in Europe's ambition to achieve a low emission economy where economic development is uncoupled from the use of natural resources. It is believed that economic growth and environmental protection can go hand in hand.

Some innovative European regions have already set a priority on implementing eco-management and eco-innovation and have supported their SMEs in adopting their management systems by implementing environmental-friendly measures. Such regional success stories have attracted much interest even beyond national levels. But very quickly it has become clear that the success of such regional concepts and its acceptance amongst its target groups strongly depends inter alia on the structural specialities of each region. A simple copy and paste approach is not appropriate. Therefore the RECOMMEND partnership will examine what kind of challenges the single regions have to face on their way to sustainable development and what can be learnt from each other. The three crucial questions will be:
  • How can regional public authorities and enterprises (especially SMEs) be made aware and convinced of the importance and efficiency of environmental management?
  • How can enterprises be supported effectively when starting or intensifying their orientation towards more eco-efficient and eco-innovative production?
  • Which will be the appropriate methodologies to stimulate a high level of commitment for sustainable development at the different levels of regional economies?
The RECOMMEND project consortium consists of 10 partners from 8 Member States. 5 partners are public authorities with responsibilities around business and the environment. The other partners have direct influence on the regional policies in order to raise eco efficiency via eco-management. The partners represent a good mixture of regions with different levels of the regional support for eco-management and eco-innovation. They decided to develop this project because it offers the opportunity for all regions to learn from each other, to foster networking among each other and to improve eco-efficiency amongst their businesses within their regions. Only a joint approach and international cooperation will help to reach the EUs contribution for worldwide environmental changes.


Aim
Building foundation for future prosperity

The main objective of RECOMMEND is to: improve regional policies with regard to environmental sustainability in their economic policy. Concrete regional adopted recommendations and approved instruments such as funding schemes will be developed during the lifetime of the project. This input will offer regional authorities and public intermediaries a set of proposals and ideas around how they can foster eco-management and how they can use eco-management as a lever for enhanced eco-innovation in their region. Furthermore they will receive guidance on how they can convince their target groups - primarily SMEs and suppliers - to implement eco-management systems as an instrument of corporate eco-awareness and eco-efficient production.

These prepared new and improved approaches and methodologies will help to reach the following sub goals:
  • Shaping regions of vital eco-management commitment that will raise eco-efficiency at the level of individual stakeholders by developing attractive supporting instruments and funding schemes. These tools will lead the project's target groups (regional enterprises, public authorities) to an efficient use of eco-management systems as an instrument for corporate eco-innovation.
  • Creating and interlinking "regional frameworks of eco-management and eco-innovation"; all participating regions already have experience in eco-management and eco-innovation. Although their experience and commitment on this topic differ from each other, they all see the diversity as a useful contribution to improve joint approaches towards global challenges. RECOMMEND will involve all relevant policy makers and stakeholders from the participating regions from the project start. This will help to deepen commitment of all participating regions and will increase awareness of sustainable challenges within their regional economies.
  • Increasing the visibility of the contributions of regional economies for the solution of ecological challenges at the European level.
The partners of RECOMMEND are convinced that they will make meaningful and valuable contributions to the numerous EU initiatives such as Lisbon, Gothenburg or EUROPE 2020 strategies in order to make Europe a healthier, cleaner, more liveable and sustainable environment.


Outputs

The main output of the RECOMMEND project will be 8 Regional Implementation Plans (RIP).

Each RIP will describe a ready to implement policy instrument for the fostering of eco-management and/or eco-innovation in the respective regions. Each RIP will also include the political commitment of the relevant regional and national stakeholder for the implementation of the described policy instrument.

Furthermore, the RECOMMEND partnership will formulate and disseminate policy recommendations for the successful support of eco-management and eco-innovation in European regions.


Approach
speeding up the transition of sustainable development at regional, national and European level

The RECOMMEND partnership decided to use an action oriented methodology which enables all partners to go beyond mere practice exchange. The target is to develop approaches tailored to the needs of the participating regions. New and improved policies and ready-for-action implementation plans will be developed in 5 interrelated project phases:

PHASE 1- Analysis of eco-management and eco-innovation model regions
Project partners will conduct an international screening of model regions and discuss with experts about specific targets for establishing "eco-management and eco-innovation frameworks" within regional policy.

PHASE 2- Identification of good practice methodologies
Based on the results from Phase 1 regional and national stakeholders will share and develop concrete project ideas for regional implementation.

PHASE 3: Design of new instruments
Divided into several thematic working groups with inputs from external experts RECOMMEND will develop new instruments for promotion of eco-management as a lever for enhanced eco-innovation.

PHASE 4: PILOT ACTIONS
Three pilot actions will be designed and implemented to test the new methodologies developed. Their main focus will be on establishing regional frameworks to promote eco-innovation. Field missions will activate learning processes for all project partners.

PHASE 5: PREPARATION OF REGIONAL IMPLEMENTATION PLANS
The Regional Implementation Plans will summarise and adapt the pilot action experience to the specific requirements of the partner regions. All project partners are already committed for the sustainable implementation of these plans in their regional economies. The preparation process will also serve as a regional awareness raising campaign and will be finalised by officially signing off the Regional Implementation Plans

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The Interregional Cooperation Programme INTERREG IVC, financed by the European Union's
Regional Development Fund, helps Regions of Europe work together to share experience and
good practice in the areas of innovation, the knowledge economy, the environment and risk
prevention. EUR 302 million is available for project funding but, more than that, a wealth of
knowledge and potential solutions are also on hand for regional policy-makers.