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Sustainability 2016, 8(4), 309; doi:10.3390/su8040309

Using Scenarios to Assess Policy Mixes for Resource Efficiency and Eco-Innovation in Different Fiscal Policy Frameworks

European Commission Joint Research Centre, Brussels B-1049, Belgium
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Francesca Montevecchi, Martin Hirschnitz-Garbers, Tomas Ekvall, Martha Bicket and Patrick ten Brink
Received: 21 January 2016 / Revised: 11 March 2016 / Accepted: 23 March 2016 / Published: 26 March 2016
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [2332 KB, uploaded 26 March 2016]   |  


There is no longer any doubt that the European Union needs to manage a transition towards a sustainable economy and society. The complexity of such an enterprise is creating major challenges that require a future oriented systemic approach, looking at the EU economy and society as a whole, and going beyond current agendas and policies. The purpose of the JRC foresight study “2035: Paths towards a sustainable EU economy” was to explore how this could be possible. Resource efficiency was at the core of the reflection. This created a context where the fiscal framework was perceived by the experts involved as essential in driving (or hindering) the evolution towards a more sustainable future. Societal values (individualistic or collaborative) were selected as the other axis around which to construct four scenarios. A large number of other drivers of change were taken into account to construct scenarios of a sufficient depth and detail to generate a systemic understanding. The scenarios were used in an original way to help experts identify which policy mixes would be best adapted to push each scenario towards a more sustainable future, while respecting its own logic and constraints. For each scenario, 6 policy domains considered the most relevant were selected among more than 50. Research and innovation, new business models and education were considered important for all four scenarios. The other domains were natural resources management, regulation, ethics, employment, transparency, governance, social protection, and systems integration. The study illustrates how powerful a policy framework which is fiscally supportive of environmental sustainability can be in supporting resource efficiency and that this can be achieved in very different ways depending on the prevailing social values. It also shows how a combination of actions in other policy areas can be used to drive sustainability further. In sum, this work illustrates how the creative use of foresight can help design policy mixes that can open the way to very different paths towards a sustainable future. View Full-Text
Keywords: foresight; scenarios; sustainability; policy mixes; systemic approach; eco-innovation; resource efficiency foresight; scenarios; sustainability; policy mixes; systemic approach; eco-innovation; resource efficiency

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Bontoux, L.; Bengtsson, D. Using Scenarios to Assess Policy Mixes for Resource Efficiency and Eco-Innovation in Different Fiscal Policy Frameworks. Sustainability 2016, 8, 309.

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