the way to cleaner production

Policy Initiatives and Legislation

In order to support cleaner and sustainable production in SMEs, policy makers on international, European, national and regional level have launched dedicated policy initiatives and legislation. This section provides a short overview on relevant initiatives and legislation.
Global (International)

International intergovernmental agreements have been the basis for policy initiatives addressing global environmental challenges such as climate change, loss of biodiversity or depletion of the ozone layer, all within the general concept of sustainable development. Specific policy measures and binding legislation then have been introduced on national level to support the agreed goals.

Eco-innovation has been recognized internationally, e.g. by OECD, as a crucial concept to combine innovation and competitiveness with environmental soundness and sustainable development. Realizing a “Green Economy” in the context of sustainable development is also one of the focus areas of the up-coming UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 (‘Rio+20’ Earth Summit).

UN Division for Sustainable Development
UNECE -United Nations Economic Comission for Europe
UNIDO - United NAtions Industrial Development Organisation
OECD: Green gowth and eco-inovation
Stakeholder Forum´s Website on RioPlus20 Earth Summit

The European Commission has introduced a number of policies to support SME development and sustainable innovations. The Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP) was adopted by the Commission in 2004 to cover a wide range of activities promoting eco-innovation and use of environmental technologies. Its objective is to improve European competitiveness in this area, and enable the EU to become the recognized world leader. The "Small Business Act" for Europe, adopted in June 2008, recognizes the central role of SMEs in the EU economy and for the first time puts into place a comprehensive SME policy framework for the European Union. In 2008 the European Commission also presented the Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy (SCP/SIP) Action Plan. It includes a series of proposals on sustainable consumption and production that should contribute to improving the environmental performance of products and increase the demand for more sustainable goods and production technologies.

Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP)
Small Business Act for Europe
Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy (SCP) 
ETAP Forum: Overcoming barriers to SMEs in eco-innovation
Environmental Compliance Assistance Programme for SMEs 


This project is implemented through the CENTRAL EUROPE Programme
co-financed by the ERDF.

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