‘Eco-innovation is any innovation that make progress towards a more green and sustainable economy by reducing environmental pressures, increasing resilience or using natural resources more efficiently’ .
The eco-innovation index is based on the eco-innovation scoreboard, which has 12 indicators in five thematic areas:
- 'Eco-innovation inputs, which includes financial and human capital investment in eco-innovative activities;
- Eco-innovation activities, which defines the extent to which companies in a given country are active in eco-innovation;
- Eco-innovation outputs, which measures the output of eco-innovation activities concerning the number of patents and academic literature;
- Resource efficiency outcomes, which pinpoint a country’s efficiency of resources and GHG emission intensity; and
- Socio-economic outcomes, which aims to measure the positive societal as well as economic outcomes of eco-innovation’ .
Eco-innovation index scores are currently calculated on the basis of 12 indicators belonging to the following five thematic areas:
- Eco-innovation inputs: governments’ environmental and energy R&D appropriations and outlays (governments’ environmental and energy R&D appropriations and outlays as a proportion of GDP); total R&D personnel and researchers (total R&D personnel and researchers as a proportion of total employment).
- Eco-innovation activities: number of ISO 14001 certificates (number of ISO 14001 certificates/population in millions).
- Eco-innovation outputs: eco-innovation-related patents (number of patent applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) in the fields of environment-related technologies, climate change adaptation technologies and sustainable ocean economy inventions/population in millions); eco-innovation-related academic publications (number of publications with any the following list of English keywords in the title and/or abstract: eco-innovation, energy efficient/efficiency, material efficient/efficiency, resource efficient/efficiency, energy productivity, material productivity, resource productivity/population in millions);
- Resource efficiency outcomes: material productivity (GDP/domestic material consumption (DMC)); water productivity (GDP/total fresh water abstraction); energy productivity (GDP/gross available energy for a given year); GHG emission productivity (GDP/GHGs (CO2, N2O in CO2 equivalent, CH4 in CO2 equivalent, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in CO2 equivalent, perfluorocarbons (PFCs) in CO2 equivalent, SF6 in CO2 equivalent, NF3 in CO2 equivalent)).
- Socio-economic outcomes: exports of environmental goods and service sector (export of goods and services in the field of environmental protection and resource management activities/total exports); employment in environmental protection and resource management activities (employment in environmental protection and resource management activities/total employment); value added in environmental protection and resource management activities (value added in the environmental goods and service sector/GDP).
The Eighth Environment Action Programme (8th EAP) should, among other things, accelerate the transition to a green economy in the context of a well-being economy through, inter alia, ‘continuous… innovation’ (EU, 2022). This indicator is a headline indicator for monitoring progress towards meeting one of the 8th EAP and contributes mainly to monitoring progress in relation to aspects of Article 3(w), which requires ‘strengthening the environmental knowledge base… and its uptake…, including through… innovation’ (EU, 2022). The European Commission communication on the 8th EAP monitoring framework specifies that this indicator should be used to monitor the increase in ‘eco-innovation as a driver for the green transition’ .