"Europe must be at forefront of eco-innovation" - Dimas
Europe's Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas has told industrialists they must grasp the opportunities offered in developing eco-innovation and remain world leaders in the fast-growing field.
"Times have changed fundamentally," he said.
"Eco-technologies are now recognised as the technologies of the future... we will take them for granted much in the same way as we now do with information technologies."
"Doubters simply need to ask themselves if the future of the automotive sector is going to be with the Prius or the SUV?"
He said Europe's current market share was one third of the global market and accounted for over 2% of the union's GDP but resting on laurels was not an option.
"We cannot be complacent since our competitors are waking up to the possibilities. Japan is already ahead in the design of hybrid cars. Brazil leads the world in the bio-fuels market.
"And American industrial giants such as General Electric have put the development of eco-technologies at the heart of their business plans.
"To ensure European leadership in the future we need to plan and to invest right now.
"Eco-innovation is the ultimate win-win solution. It presents business opportunities and can also help get us out of the environmental predicament in which we find ourselves."
He said accelerating global growth had led to increased pressures on the environment and we were now seeing the consequences of this break-neck development.
Climate change, mass extinctions, scarcity of resources and pollution were all now having a serious impact.
But environmental sensitive business could, and must, lessen the damage, he told delegates.
"As economies continue to grow we must decouple this growth from its negative impact on our environment," said Mr Dimas.
"If we do not achieve this, growth will not be sustainable and we risk causing dangerous and irreversible changes to our planet."
by Sam Bond