Green economy is becoming one of the main economic development strategies worldwide. Combining tradition and innovation, sustainability and quality, its production model is a way to achieve competitiveness. Investing in ecotechnologies enables firms to undertake productions with higher value added and to acquire positions of leadership internationally in a sector whose economic and technologic potential is very high.
2014 is the “European year of green economy”: the European Union has the goal to increase the number of jobs related to the environment, by supporting businesses in their transition towards a green economy which enables them to compete globally. In Europe nine firms out of ten have so far resorted at least one measure to improve energy or resources efficiency, thereby obtaining energy and materials saving and remarkable waste reduction.
Green economy plays an essential role for the Italian economic development, both for the important contribution it makes to production and employment and for its integration with the rest of the industrial system; it may amount to a chance for relaunching our competitiveness.
In Europe Italy is technologically in the lead in the energy efficiency sector, which currently counts over 300,000 firms and 3 million workers. Its promotion should be directed to the most promising and innovative industrialised sectors. For instance, the electric sector, which has experienced exceptional development from renewable sources, has obtained incentives that are among the highest in Europe (10,7 billion euros until 2013). The most relevant contribution to the reduction of environmental impact and of the use of fossile fuels has so far come from the development of energy generation from renewable sources, notably in this sector.
The Greenitaly report of November 2013 provides very encouraging data about the results and perspectives of green economy in our country. Since 2008, 22% of Italian businesses with staff (328,000) have invested in green technologies in order to reduce the environmental impact of production activities and to save energy; this percentage rises to 29.7% in the manufacturing industry and to 54% in the chemical-pharmaceutical and oil industries. The results have not been long in coming: in 2012 these businesses created value added for 100.7 billion euros, equal to10.6% of the total of domestic economy and achieved an average growth of 3% in revenues and of 13% in ebitda.
The scenario is positive in terms of competitiveness too: 17.5% of the businesses which have invested in green technologies export, whereas the percentage is only 10% for non-green businesses. This result can be ascribed to the higher efficiency of production processes, to the consequent reduction of costs and to the improvement of the quality of products and services offered. The benefits can be seen in employment too: as much as 38% of recruitments in 2013 come in fact from firms that invest in green technologies and these are again the businesses that recruit the highest number of youth below 30.
A leading role for green economy is played by the territory and by the various small and medium businesses that have been so cunning and ready as to invest in ecotechnologies in order to generate innovations related mainly to renewable sources and to energy saving, to waste reduction and to limitation in the use of materials and water. Such businesses, especially those of the chemical sector (the one which drives Italian businesses to the top of the European lists of green economy with 41% of businesses that have invested in sustainable technologies and production processes and reduced its environmental impact), textile and clothing, automotive, food, wood and furniture, are in charge of the green reconversion of the Italian production system.
Innovation and quality have been the answer to the economic global crisis for small and medium businesses, because the higher efficiency that they imply has stimulated home and foreign demand, so leading to an increase in GNP and in the number of jobs.
Expo 2015 will be an opportunity to present the development model based on green economy, where it is advisable to invest at all levels, from energy to mobility to consumption, in order to get out of the deep economic crisis. Our industrial system, composed of very flexible and innovative small and medium businesses, can integrate new technologies in products that can provide green solutions to the actual problems of consumers. Adopting this production model can increase the qualitative profile of processes and products so as to catch new business opportunities and to re new consumers and new markets, not only in Italy but also and mainly abroad.
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