Innovation Policy



Green economy policies, if properly designed, deliver environmental, social and economic benefits by improving resource efficiency and inducing innovation. Market forces alone however are insufficient to incentivise large-scale development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies. There remains a significant gap between the need for and benefits of clean technology and the adoption or successful diffusion of such technology. 

UN Environment in partnership with the Centre for International Environmental Studies (CIES) of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland with the support of the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS) has been carrying out a project Access to Clean Energy for the Green Economy in Developing Countries. This interdisciplinary project seeks to establish the economic and policy conditions likely to enable the diffusion of low-cost clean energy technologies in developing country contexts, and, more specifically, the role of domestic policy and international collaboration. 

UN Environment's work on innovation policy for green economy has consisted of the following two areas: 

  1. Innovation policy analysis
  2. Policy dialogues 


Innovation Policy Analysis

Through analytical studies on innovation policy, UN Environment aims to provide an in-depth investigation of the barriers to the diffusion of low-cost clean energy technologies within developing countries, as well as the governance mechanisms (policies and international cooperation) that can help to unlock diffusion and improve clean energy access. Innovation policy analyses also assess the role of fiscal instruments in moving towards an inclusive green economy. In particular, the project seeks to theoretically and empirically illuminate the barriers and diffusion patterns of low-cost clean energy technologies across developing countries, using modelling, quantitative analysis and qualitative case studies. Such research is essential for addressing global challenges of energy poverty, climate change, and green growth. The research outcomes were presented at the CIES workshop on Climate Policy Innovation on May 20th, 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland.

To see relevant country studies, please click on the publications link in the side bar.


Policy Dialogue

UN Environment, together with the Centre for International Environmental Studies (CIES) of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland organised a side event “Technology Innovation for a Green Economy in Developing Countries” at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Green Growth and Sustainable Development Forum in Paris, 15 December 2015. Over 100 participants from the academic and private sectors, came together to discuss innovation policy for a green economy in several developing countries.

In particular, the event presented country case studies to examine the issue of accessing clean energy technology and how to contribute to the evolution of eco-innovation for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries. The research investigates the barriers to the diffusion of clean technologies, the governance mechanisms that can help to unlock diffusion and improve clean energy access in developing countries, as well as the enabling policy environment for stimulating SME eco-innovation processes through green technology.

Summary reports, presentations and other information about the workshops are available here.