Towards a Governance Structure for Sustainable Development
ESRI Studies Series on the Environment
Edited by Raimund Bleischwitz and Peter Hennicke
Chapter 6: Concluding thoughts
Raimund Bleischwitz The study has revealed some interesting results for any sustainable development of an economy. Putting an emphasis on the concept of eco-efficiency, it has spelled out various benefits resulting from pursuing such a strategy. Business makers may like the idea of combining innovations with less use of nature. By and large, companies can save costs via the reduction of energy and materials input. Innovations are likely to emerge when companies revise their production chain and develop new products and services that require fewer natural resources and lead to lower levels of emissions and waste. Driven by pioneers and early imitators, a Factor Four (or more) increase in eco-efficiency may occur for whole economies in the long run. Because of such self-interest, the scope of environmental regulations may become leaner compared to previous times of pollution control policy. A general conclusion, however, that self-interest will almost automatically drive firms and markets towards a Factor Four would be misleading. Typical market failures such as information deficits, negative externalities and low prices for the use of nature call for a review of framework conditions. Eco-efficiency still demands some regulatory policies. The study explores via empirical analysis different kinds of regulatory approach towards increasing eco-efficiency in Europe. Though these approaches differ and can even be seen as heterogeneous, further general remarks can be made. There is, firstly, no general tendency towards one single instrument. Economic incentives, however superior they might be seen to be from the standpoint of economic theory, are usually...
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