What is the goal of our lives in Europe and our position in the world in this century? A “sustainable” Europe must be an advanced, innovative, open and viable Europe. It is characterized by high quality of life and high environmental protection. It integrates, is inclusive and does not border, supports the weak and creates opportunities for equal participation. It also offers globally respected solutions – economically and scientifically.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, enormous changes have occurred globally, which are likely to accelerate further. At the same time, the long-term lines must be kept in mind. The years 2050 or 2100 are in the far future; and yet today’s newborns have statistically good chances of experiencing the year 2100.

The digitization of the economy, work organization and society as well as the knowledge intensification as well as the increasing networking of systems, new cooperation models and a change in demand will be among the drivers of economic and structural changes in the coming years. Structural change will cover all countries and value chains. Properly used, it offers opportunities to develop new solutions for social and environmental challenges and to put them into practice.

Sustainability and innovation are not a contradiction, but mutually dependent. A willingness to innovate is the prerequisite for a sustainable policy that aims to achieve long-term sustainable progress; technological change and a sustainable future are inextricably linked – for example, improvements in mobility, natural resources, health, nutrition, urbanization and cooperation. An innovative policy that is consistently oriented towards sustainable development could provide impulses for a new start-up period, a new qualitative departure into modernity.

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