Sustainable development strongly depends on the global diffusion of environmental friendly technologies. In many cases, lead markets are the starting point of such diffusion processes. Lead-markets are regional markets (most often countries), which utilize a certain innovation design earlier than other countries and which do have specific properties (lead market factors) which increase the probability that other countries will adopt to the same innovation design, too. Lead markets are characterised by high per-capita income, demanding and innovative consumers, high quality standards, and flexible, innovation-friendly framework conditions for producers and users. Environment-friendly or sustainable technologies are specific insofar as they are related to environmental problems which possibly occur in other regions, too, and strongly depend on political influences. The problem dimension potentially constitutes a global demand in terms of global environmental needs.
The interdisciplinary project aimed to identify and analyse the determinants of lead-markets for both environmental friendly as well as economically and socially sustainable products and processes, and it has asked in how far these conditions can be improved by purposeful political action. For this purpose a set of hypotheses has been derived which were able to explain the phenomena of lead markets. The project started from the intersection of various disciplines such are environmental economics, environmental and innovation management sciences, innovation economics, and policy analysis.
On the basis of a broad range of case studies on environmental innovations, e.g. fuel cells for stationary and mobile applications, photovoltaic cells, environmental friendly financial services, technologies for the processing of recycling paper and for paper saving, paints and adhesives with low VOC content, the framework conditions has been identified which support the constitution of global lead-markets.
In doing so, both the national prerequisites as well as the global effects of diffusion were analyzed. Environmentally friendly products or processes, such are e.g. the three litre car, chlorine free technologies for paper production, CFC free refrigerator are most often introduced on a national market. Often these technologies were promoted by national authorities, sometimes also by environmentalists in hopes of a subsequent diffusion on the global market. By this strategy, developed industrial countries can take part successfully in the worldwide competition on technologies.
Jänicke, Martin / Jacob, Klaus: Global Environmental Change and the Nation State: Lead Markets for Environmental Innovations. In: Biermann, Frank / Brohm, Rainer / Dingwerth, Klaus (eds.): Global Environmental Change and the Nation State: Proceedings of the 2001 Berlin Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change. Potsdam 2002, S. 139-148, (= Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research: PIK-Report No. 80)
Jänicke, Martin / Jacob, Klaus: Ecological Modernization and the Creation of Lead Markets. Berlin 2002, 18 S., (= Forschungsstelle für Umweltpolitik, FU Berlin, FFU rep 03-2002)
Loew, Thomas (2002): Internationale Entwicklung der Regulierungen zur Förderung ökologisch-ethischer Finanzdienstleistungen. IÖW-Diskussionspapier 56/02, Berlin 2002
Beise, Marian / Blazejczak, Jürgen / Edler, Dietmar / Jacob, Klaus / Jänicke, Martin / Loew, Thomas / Petschow, Ulrich / Rennings, Klaus: The Emergence of Lead Markets for Environmental Innovations. Berlin 2003, 25 S., (= Forschungsstelle für Umweltpolitik, FU Berlin, FFU rep 02-2003)
Beise, Marian / Blazejczak, Jürgen / Edler, Dietmar / Jacob, Klaus / Jänicke, Martin / Loew, Thomas / Petschow, Ulrich / Rennings, Klaus: The Emergence of Lead Markets for Environmental Innovations. In: Horbach, Jens / Huber, Joseph / Schulz, Thomas (Hrsg.): Nachhaltigkeit und Innovation. Rahmenbedingungen für Umweltinnovationen. München: ökom Verlag 2003, S. 9-53
Jacob, Klaus / Jänicke, Martin: Lead Märkte für Umweltinnovationen. In: Politische Ökologie. Jg. 21 (2003), H. 84, S. 19-21
Beise, Marian and Rennings, Klaus (2003): Lead Markets of Environmental Innovations: A Framework for Innovation and Environmental Economics. ZEW Discussion Paper No. 03-01. (zugleich: Contribution to the Blueprint Workshop: "Foresight and Strategies for Integrating Environmental and Innovation Policy", Brussels 3-4 April 2003)
Jänicke, Martin / Jacob, Klaus (2001): Ecological Modernisation and the Creation of Lead Markets. Paper presented at the conference „Environmental Innovation Systems” Grainau 27.-29.09.2001
Jacob, Klaus / Jänicke, Martin (2002): Transitions to Sustainability: Creating Lead Markets for Environmental Innovations. Paper presented on the Workshop “Transitions to Sustainability through System Innovations”, 4-6 July 2002, University of Twente.