This is at a time when the principle of incorporating the three dimensions of the sustainable development process in public policy has become almost universally accepted with municipal authorities around the world adopting Local Agenda 21 programmes. It is still difficult to translate policy into effective action on the ground, especially at the regional and local levels. It is not always clear to administrators and politicians how to achieve the simultaneous optimisation of several dimensions at the same time, nor how to fulfil short-term and long-term sustainability objectives simultaneously.

Recent advances in the use of life-cycle management tools in particular by multinational companies but also by public administrations, like the French Government and the European Commission, especially in the form of environmental footprinting, make it easier for regional governments and related actors to promote the application of holistic policies by the relevant administrations and local businesses, to foster innovation and to consider wider and longer-term aspects of their actions.

With acceleration of technological development and adoption and greater market competition, innovation has become prerequisite for enterprise survival at the regional level. There is an important role for regional decision-makers at the public and private level to take action to ensure that the innovation that is currently incubated is sustainable. In this way sustainable innovation and regional development go hand in hand. In this context, sharing the latest knowledge on life cycle approaches helps to promote sustainable innovation, thus enhancing economic, technological and regional development through new economic, more sustainable activities that stimulate wealth, employment and growth generation and increase competitiveness.

There are many ways to commence the process. One important element of a life-cycle approach is the consideration of the local, regional and global supply-chain of different products, and then transposing this concept into 'sustainable' procurement by public bodies and businesses. Purchasing of 'green' and 'local made' products by ordinary citizens is already a significant feature of our society and contributes to the fact that sustainability has become a megatrend.

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