Our experts have been working on green economy topics that are crucial to respond to the climate change and loss of biodiversity. The world desperately needs evidence-based policies that will transform the way socio-economic system is working. While we cannot expect easy answers and one-size-fits-all models we can guide the way forward providing clues on how transition to low-carbon economy and circular economy could work. Given an enormous challenge that the EU is facing in this regard it will take a lot of effort to put its ‘New Industrial Strategy for a green and digital Europe‘ and the ‘European Green Deal‘ into practice.

Smart specialisation can prove to be a good basis for transition to low-carbon or zero-carbon economy. EFIS Centre has recently written a Report outlining a number of measurement indicators as well as providing a smart specialisation zero-carbon transition roadmap that could be used with online tools to support the process. There are a number of grey areas though, since in order to analyse and monitor resource efficiency one would need to have indicators at the level of 3-digit NACE classification and on NUTS levels 1-3. Something that is currently not available.

In addition, there is a need for a better measurement of environmental innovations, whether product or process ones or of systemic eco-innovations that may make a real difference. EFIS Centre is currently participating in a project for the European Commission, in the framework of the European Innovation Scoreboard, on ‘How to Measure Environmental Innovation’. Mainstreaming such indicators on ‘framework conditions’, ‘investments’ or ‘impacts’ may help policy makers and innovators alike in understanding the impacts they make.

Furthermore, we need more efforts to understand what is happening in circular economy. EFIS Centre has been doing a high-level value chain mapping in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) to support region’s smart specialisation policies in the area of circular bio-based economy. Key technologies in which each of the BSR regions specialise in as well as the key players in the field are only just emerging from this ongoing research. Hence lack of knowledge of the field seems to be the most constraining factor.

Transition to low-carbon economy and circular economy is very demanding, in particular as there is a lack of data on which EU regions should base the necessary steps. More fine-grained data on innovations, key sectors and technologies at national and regional levels should contribute to more clarity, urgently needed to avoid regions’ tapping in the dark. Only then can the right programmes and policies achieve optimal results.