The Greek economy, part of the hardly hit by the debt crisis Eurozone countries, has seen its annual growth rates falling from an average of 3-4% since 2004. The on-going financial crisis inevitably affected all economic sectors, local business and labour market. On the other hand, the financial downturn has provided the impetus for a comprehensive and structural reform, aimed at the development of a healthier investment and business environment, including among others faster licensing procedures, a better focused investment law and the liberalisation of a number of markets; however the implementation of these structural changes is still at an early stage.
The uncertainty of the economic and social environment seems to have further enhanced the openness of the Greek businesses and society to new concepts; however, the majority of indices measuring innovation rank the country below the EU27 average, showing particular difficulties in the implementation of new ideas. Greece seems to be performing better in the promotion of new to the firm products or processes, as well as to organisational innovation.

Eco-innovation is not an exception to the above. Despite the crisis, public funding available for eco-innovation investments has increased (Structural Funds), while the availability of scientific and research personnel has remained adequate, even though often lacks sufficient business experience. Availability of eco-innovation inputs is expected to be further improved in the future; the Greek National Strategic Framework for Research and Innovation (NSFRI) is based on a global target for R&D public spending at 2 % of GDP in 2020, while at the same time anticipates that research will be primarily focused on selected priority areas, with ‘Environment’ already being identified as a prominent sector, in line with the national strategic objective for Green Growth.
It shows relatively better performance in company level eco-innovation activities targeting energy and material efficiency improvement. Furthermore, Greece ranks among the five top EU performers in energy productivity of its economy. Food and chemical industries are showed to be more active in promoting eco-innovative products and processes. Present policy priorities and strategic developments indicate the following emerging lead markets with a good potential for eco-innovation: the waste management sector (recycling, treatment, re-use), the green tourism industry; the green banking services. Eco-innovation is not explicitly framed in the policy agenda of Greece; its elements are somewhat captured by general innovation and S&T policy strategies and the availability of eco-innovation inputs is expected to grow in the future. At the same time, there are regulatory and policy restrictions in business exploitation of eco-innovative concepts.

2013 Eco-innovation Scoreboard ranking and eco-innovation index composites for Greece



Green Banking – Piraeus Bank: an example of material flow and marketing innovation

greenbankingPIRAEUS bank offers since 2006 specially designed green banking products to support environment related entrepreneurship. The bank has developed green loans for renewable energy investments; green mortgages; green loans for households (purchase of bicycles, energy saving infrastructure and equipment); green leasing; as well as green insurance products. Moreover, the bank has designed and implemented an environmental management system comprising a series of measures to minimize its environmental footprint and to communicate the benefits of these actions to its customers. The project was co-financed by the European Commission through the LIFE programme.

Possible effects: economic, social, environmental
The bank has reduced its energy consumption and improved natural resource management, taking simple measures such as mainstreaming electronic transactions (offering to its customers, fully electronic - no need for paper - means of transactions). Widespread use of Green Banking has changed the relationship between the bank and the customer, achieving among others: direct benefits to the environment; improved quality of service; significant reduction in transaction costs; good marketing results with eco conscious clients.
The environmental benefits are summarised as follows: with 20,000,000 electronic transactions conducted annually, Piraeus Bank saves 90,000 kg of paper, a number interpreted in 2,000 trees; 3,500,000 litres of water and 450,000 KWh of energy saved by not consuming this amount of paper; additionally, by saving energy, the emission of 90,000 kg of CO2 in the atmosphere is avoided. Moreover, the bank makes continuous efforts to raise customers’ environmental awareness, through messages in web and ATM banking.


  • Green Ethics: The motivation for promoting the Green banking derives from the excessive penetration of bank transactions in everyday life and activities. A key point in green banking is that the additional profit that derives from the green banking operation is contributory to the environment and the public and not benefiting the bank units themselves.
  • Market demand: Green Growth, now a national, EU and global strategic vision, creates a huge market for Green Banking products; competition is due to promote eco-innovation.


  • Risk: Green banking products are a new market, in which traditional banks have little experience.
  • Knowledge: Environmental know-how is not fully available in-house, hence a new department as well as strategic alliances with external consultants were required.

Further Information

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Eco Innovation in Practice in Greece

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