Eco-innovation is not an isolated practice; it overlaps with activities described in many other topics of the website. This topic therefore describes several activities and projects more from the perspective of the importance of their contribution to Green Growth than in terms of their actual positive environmental impacts.
Currently, the most important activity in this area in which the City of Ostrava participates is the Programme for long-term inter-sectoral collaboration between the private and academic spheres. This Programme incorporates several areas focusing on the management and use of materials and resources, the circular economy, technologies for developing Smart Cities, and innovations – including environmental innovations (the expected volume of project funding is estimated at 27,7 millionEUR).
An important aspect of Eco-innovation and Green Growth is raising awareness of these issues; it is impossible to achieve progress without informing all key stakeholders and informing the public of the positive environmental impacts of innovations. In partnership with other key actors, the City has participated in the Smart Cities Hackathons project (VŠB–Technical University and Impact Hub). Ostrava is also a member of the Smart Region Strategy Group, participating in the evaluation and selection of projects focusing on transport, ICT, the environment, energy savings and health.
Due to the current system of job classification used in Czechia, new jobs related to eco-innovation cannot be clearly distinguished from other new jobs. One possibility is to estimate future job numbers in individual industries, combined with job numbers at Ostrava’s successfully developing Science and Technology Park, and numbers of new jobs at start-ups (and at other institutions connected with eco-innovations). However, due to statistical inaccuracies, any such estimate would be very imprecise. Moreover, Czechia currently has the lowest unemployment rate in EU, and the rapid rise in employment (due to the ongoing economic boom) makes it difficult to identify new jobs created by supporting eco-innovations.
Ostrava’s activities in innovation-related projects also include smart mobility projects supporting electric vehicles, and the City is a member of an inter-ministerial committee set up to study the potential use of hydrogen-powered vehicles.
In the future, the City is prepared to apply principles of sustainable development to a greater extent than is currently the case when selecting suppliers and contractors. The practical application of this principle – Green Public Procurement – is still restricted due to the current state of national legislation, which does not permit contracting authorities to weight their decision-making in favour of candidates offering potential positive environmental impacts in the form of products/services supporting sustainable development, reduction of negative environmental impacts or support for eco-innovation. Current Czech legislation sets out rigid criteria for the public procurement selection process, which in the large majority of cases is based solely on the criterion of lowest price. The original intention of the law was to increase transparency in public procurement, but it severely restricts contracting authorities’ ability to take into account factors such as those mentioned above; by doing so, the contracting authority would risk intervention by the Office for the Protection of Competition, which could potentially declare the entire tender process invalid due to the use of potentially discriminatory criteria. The City of Ostrava has experienced this problem several times in the past, and because such a train of events causes significant delays (the decision-making process at the Office for the Protection of Competition may last several months), it can lead to a situation in which the project is no longer eligible for the planned subsidy funding or other source of funding because the time limit for the funding has already expired.