Towards a fair, climate-neutral, digital Europe: implications for R&I policy and beyond

AuthorDirectorate-General for Research and Innovation (European Commission)
Pages10-29
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Science, research and innovation performance of the EU 2020
Source: DG Research and Innovation
Note: Doughnut visualisation based on Kate Raworth's work on the Doughnut Economics.
Research and innovation (R&I) are key for
the future we want. They enable and drive
the transition to a green and sustainable Europe
tomorrow. They help us to better understand our
world and provide solutions for the challenges
ahead. While the COVID-19 pandemic (Box 0-1)
has recently been disrupting our society, Europe
has been facing global forces in the longer term
1 Global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (2019).
and our planet has reached a tipping point..
Climate change poses an existential threat: one
of the 8 million species on earth is at risk of
being lost1, and forests and oceans are being
polluted and destroyed. At the same time, no
one should fall short on life’s essentials, such
as food, housing, health and education. In this
context, R&I helps us to build a safe and just
Towards social, environmental
and economic sustainability
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Shortfall Overshoot
Competitive sustainability Sustainable
competitiveness
Research and Innovation
Co-creation Transformation Uptake
DirectionalityDif‌fusion
11
CHAPTER 0
space for humanity, which avoids the overshoot
of our planetary boundaries and preserves
our social foundations. At the same time, the
digital transformation of our economy and
society, empowered by artif‌icial intelligence
(AI), blockchain and quantum computing, is
revolutionising the way we live, work and
innovate at an unprecedented speed.
Hence, Europe must address the twin
challenge of the green and digital transitions
to become a modern, resource- ef‌f‌icient and
competitive economy. This means that our
R&I policy will need to adapt to ensure that R&I
contributes to an ample concept of sustainability –
social, environmental and economic – while driving
EU competitiveness. Europe's competitiveness
should build on a framework of institutions,
policies and factors that ensure sustainability
in the long term (sustainable competitiveness),
and sustainability should become a key driver of
Europe's competitiveness and growth (competitive
sustainability). To achieve this, EU R&I policy
should be guided by the following principles (see
also Chapter 1):
co-creation, working and acting together
for a better society;
dif‌fusion, sharing knowledge across soci-
ety, territories and people;
uptake, turning research into sustainable
solutions with social and economic value;
transformation, changing the way we
consume and produce; and
directionality, with R&I leading the way.
The evidence presented in this report leads to
11 policy headlines to support our people,
planet and prosperity. These include, but are
not limited to, messages for EU R&I policy:
R&I FOR A SAFE AND JUST SPACE FOR HUMANITY
#1. As an overarching policy message: the European Green Deal requires a shi
towards a transformative innovation policy.
#2. Making sure that growth does not leave anyone behind … people, regions,
countries and f‌irms.
#3. Equipping Europeans with the skills to navigate the changing world.
#4. Fast-forwarding to gender equality in and through R&I.
R&I FOR GLOBAL LEADERSHIP
#5. Shaping Europe’s competitive edge in the global race for technology.
#6. Modernising R&I policy to make it f‌it for purpose in the digital age.
#7. Ensuring scientif‌ic leadership and stimulating knowledge f‌lows within the EU.
#8. Building a vibrant and resilient R&I ecosystem in the post-Siemens-Alstom era.
R&I FOR ECONOMIC AND SOCIETAL IMPACT
#9. Maximising the value of R&I results for society, the economy and policy.
#10. Making the EU’s regulation innovation-friendly and forward-looking.
#11. Anticipating the future world through better evidence for policy.

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