Roundtable: Mainstreaming sustainability in the public and private sector: what role for innovation?

7 May 2019

10:00-11:30 | Europe Room -


Signe Ratso

European Commission

Deputy Director General, DG RTD Research

Richard White

AB InBev

VP Procurement & Sustainability Europe

Prof. Dr. Luc Soete

Maastricht University

Rector Magnificus

Simona Bonafè

European Parliament


Céline Charveriat

Institute for Environmental Policy

Executive Director

Brian Maguire


Journalist, Euranet Plus News Agency

Walter Weigel


Vice President of the European Research Institute (ERI)


Ambitious goals such as deep decarbonisation, now embedded in key policy areas such as the circular economy package and, more generally, the Europe 2030 agenda, require sustained and diffuse innovation in the coming decade. This will require that both public institutions and private organisation take sustainability seriously, and embed it in every aspect of their operations. For public institutions, an in particular the EU, this will mean re-orienting the whole budget towards sustainability, promoting sustainable procurement, and aligning all policies towards sustainable development. The same will be important for Member States, and this calls for mainstreaming SDGs and the Europe 2030 goals in the European Semester.

For private corporations, this transition will require a significant shift in the way the business is run: from sourcing policies to the relationship with customers, from the logistics to distribution, a holistic approach will be needed to embed sustainability into new policies. This may create new challenges, but also new opportunities for sustainable innovation, in particular when it comes to the circular economy.

This session discusses the role of innovation in the EU’s quest for sustainability, analyses the possible opportunities and challenges for the public and private sector, and tries to develop policy implications for the coming years.