Monday, October 22, 2012

Raise the green bar to incite innovation

"Het Financieele Dagblad," the Dutch Financial Times, called for readers to share innovative and entrepreneurial ideas while coalition negotiations are taking place behind closed doors. Here's my response, which was published on (Dutch, registr. req'd):

As prospective coalition parties PvdA and VVD seem to be well on their way toward a coalition agreement, the question is less about which combination of parties would guarantee an entrepreneur's perspective in policy making - it's about what policies the coalition should put forward to foster entrepreneurism in the Netherlands and sustainably recover from the crisis. Many good proposals have been made, such as those by Jan Rotmans et al. in this paper (Oct. 8, 2012) and by Herman Wijffels in his booklet "Formeren is vooruitzien." At first sight, their 'green' and 'circular' economy may seem to put unhelpful, additional restrictions on the set of solutions to the economic crisis, but the opposite is true: 'green' as a guiding principle is not restrictive, it is liberating.
It opens doors to a new realm of smart, elegant products and services. It allows entrepreneurs and designers renewed creativity. Demand for construction and installation workers goes up. Work regains purpose. Take a look at Germany, where small and medium enterprises have energetically gone to work now the country has chosen to transition to renewable energy.
That should be possible for the Netherlands as well. For the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, McKinsey has calculated that by moving to a circular economy - one that is regenerative, designed to maximize reuse of resources and eliminate waste - EU industries would gain $630 billion a year up to 2025 compared to the current model, stimulating economic activity in product development, remanufacturing and refurbishment. The Netherlands should seize this opportunity as it is well positioned to do so - no other country sends as little a share of its waste to landfill and the Dutch economy is one of the most resource-efficient in the world.
The countless green grassroots initiatives in the Netherlands are proof that citizens and entrepreneurs are willing and ready - may the new government facilitate this transition by setting high the green bar.

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