Opportunities for sustainable innovation
Alex Hook reflects on Nesta's recent Innovation for Sustainability event and the questions that arose around the future of sustainable innovation in the UK.
Against the backdrop of Climate Week, Nesta hosted a fascinating panel debate on Wednesday 23 March on the role of innovation in creating a sustainable way of life for us all; from how we generate and use energy to the choices we make as individual consumers in the purchase, use and disposal of the goods and services that we need (and want) to go about our daily lives.
It struck me during this debate that there is uncertainty over who needs to lead the drive towards more sustainable production and consumption patterns in the UK, as the scale of challenge and its myriad of affected stakeholders could well result in inertia without strong and compelling leadership. There are undoubtedly some very tough decisions to be made around prioritising and resourcing the changes required, and who should bear their cost. But the good news is that a growing body of civil, corporate and political society recognises this challenge and sees the opportunity to lead by example (see our Big Green Challenge project).
In my opinion, there is a clear and unique opportunity for the UK to build (or even evolve) new technologies and businesses that help enable the transition to more sustainable production and consumption. The threat is that we do not move quickly enough or in sufficient scale to address climate change in the UK and beyond, and that we miss the opportunity to benefit from the growth potential of this shift.
- Unilever's recent announcement around sustainability
- Pepsico's development of sustainable packaging
- Recent launch of a UK open access demonstrator facility for companies developing innovative industrial biotechnology - the National Industrial Biotechnology Facility