Governments can use every opportunity to create drivers and incentives for innovation aligned with core sustainability goals, and should exemplify and enable sustainable business.
There is a clear need for innovative approaches, technologies and systems to tackle the fundamental sustainability challenges facing the world. Government has a central role to play in driving and sustaining such innovation. There is no better way for governments to demonstrate their commitment to building a sustainable future than to use regulation, public spending and other policy instruments consistently to achieve this aim.
Public procurement, service delivery, planning policy, education, research funding, innovation support and other levers of industrial (and infrastructure) policy can all be harnessed to enhance 'public goods' such as living conditions, employment, public space and environmental quality. At a minimum, government activities should not be associated with undesirable outcomes such as low pay, excessive waste creation, or damage to important and vulnerable ecosystems, landscapes, communities and the climate. At best, government activities can be a powerful lever for change.
Are governments effective at driving innovation? Are they aligning efforts to drive and support innovation with their sustainability goals?