Environmental technologies are those tools and applications that can decrease material inputs, reduce energy consumption and emissions, recover valuable by-products and minimise waste. In general they are lean and resource-efficient technologies that can help to reduce the impact on the environment. Environmental technologies are about greening the economy and as such are the missing link between raising competitiveness in the European economy and making sure that our development is sustainable.Research history and policy relevance
The strategic importance of environmental technologies has been highlighted by the EUâ€™s Environmental Technology Action Plan (ETAP) launched in 2004 by both DG Environment and DG Research. The main axes of the Action Plan are getting the technologies from research to markets, improving market conditions and acting globally. Improving the take up of environmental technologies means reinforcing the links between research institutions and industry. The creation of the European technology platforms, that create public-private partnerships on a specific research topic, for example in water research or in photovoltaics, are helping this process. Market conditions need to be stimulated, and there are many tools that can be used for this. Policymakers can set performance targets that encourage environmental technologies. Another popular tool is environmental financing arrangements or tax concessions. Finally governments can act as end-users, stimulating demand by opening up public procurement to green products. Environmental technologies are not just meant to help Europe, but can be used throughout the world. Environmental technologies need to be developed and promoted in the developing world, in particular, hardest hit by environmental threats but often without the means to develop such technologies on their own. The EU is therefore committed to supporting eco-technologies in the developing countries and promoting foreign (green) investment.Environment technologies in FP7
Environmental technologies research in FP7 will use a systems approach, aiming to integrate all components of the process while taking into account external factors, thus helping to decouple growth from resource depletion. The environment of technological creation will also be considered, from eco-efficiency assessments to considerations about life cycle management and market barriers. Environmental technologies research will look at technologies for water, soil, waste, clean, built and marine environments and more in general to technologies for adapting and mitigating the impact of climate and environmental change (not in the energy and transport sectors). Another relevant area of research looks at the technologies for the protection of cultural heritage and human habitats.