The study investigated the question as to whether – and if so, to what extent – existing theories on the correlation between environmental policies and competitiveness are correct. To that end, a specific area – water policy – was selected in order to analyse individual water policy instruments (water tapping fees, exchange-traded water certificates, water quality regulations etc.) and their effects on various affected industrial sectors and their competitiveness. The comparison was drawn up between various major economies worldwide: several EU countries, the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and China.
Furthermore, a separate study investigated the general aspect of resource productivity in greater detail.
Key results of the project included: There are clear indications of a positive correlation between resource productivity and competitiveness. However, it is also true that resources are often not expensive enough to strongly incentivise companies to save on them. This is particularly so in relation to water. Government policy can, in its turn, make an effective contribution to improving resource productivity by means of various instruments, particularly where price alone does not send an adequate signal to the market. It was also shown that the resource productivity of individual national economies varies considerably, and also that the range of improvement – or even deterioration – in resource productivity over recent decades has been very wide.