7.7Flanders’ position in the green and digital twin transition

by Julie Callaert (ECOOM, KU Leuven) and Julie Delanote (European Investment Bank).

As the EIB Investment Report 2020/2021 “Building a Smart and Green Europe in the Covid-19 Era”1 points out, developing new green technologies is crucial in the fight against climate change and covers more than innovations in the energy sector. Despite a global decline, mainly driven by innovations in energy, green innovation is an essential part of the decarbonisation effort, as many of the technologies needed in a net-zero emissions world are still far from being mature. While energy systems are paramount to the transition, they are not the only way forward: materials, land use, recycling and many other fields are at least equally important. In addition, mitigating climate change cannot be the sole focus. Societies need to also focus on adaptation and creating a circular economy, along with other initiatives. In complement to this, digital technologies are frequently put forward as having enormous potential to address climate change and circularity. Indeed, investing in environmentally friendly technologies and supporting innovation in the private sector are clearly stated ambitions of the European Green Deal (European Commission, 2019)2. Such ambitions require a twin transition in which both green and digital technologies play a central role.

The EIB report shows that Europe is currently leading the way in combining the potential of green and digital technologies. Indeed, despite its persistent lag in digital innovation and adoption, Europe is shown to be at the forefront of developments at the crossroads of green and digital technologies. 

In compiling their 2020/2021 Investment Report, The European Investment Bank collaborated with ECOOM for the patent-based mapping of the twin transition in Europe. In this dossier, we zoom in further on the position of Flanders in this respect. 

1 European Investment Bank (2021). “Building a Smart and Green Europe in the Covid-19 Era. Chapter 8: Innovating for climate change: the green and digital transition. ISBN: 978-92-861-4811-8; DOI: 10.2867/904099. See https://www.eib.org/attachments/efs/economic_investment_report_2020_2021_en.pdf

2 European Commission (2019). “Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: The European Green deal.” COM (2019) 640