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Learning from nature to reconcile economic upgrading with biodiversity conservation? Biomimicry as an innovation policy

Lebdioui, Amir ORCID: 0000-0003-3564-0422 (2022) Learning from nature to reconcile economic upgrading with biodiversity conservation? Biomimicry as an innovation policy. Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Working Paper, 375. Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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One of the most important challenges of the 21st century is the quest for development models that enable to sustain livelihoods while respecting the planet’s ecology. Rather than imposing our industrial systems on nature, why not let nature influence our industrial and innovation systems? This research investigates the role of biomimicry-based innovation strategies to support industrial and technological development while ensuring the protection of natural ecosystems. From wind turbine blades to bullet trains and solar cells, many of the technologies we rely on today have been inspired by solutions found in nature. However, biomimicry/biomimetics remains largely overlooked in the development and innovation economics literature. This is paradoxical because, as this paper shows, the biodiversity stock in developing countries is a knowledge bank of solutions to both current challenges as well as unknown problems of the future. Leveraging such information stock, through biomimicry, provides a valuable opportunity for economic upgrading in those nations. Several findings arise from this study. First, despite the exponential growth of biomimicry as a field and our understanding of its economic impact, what drives nature-inspired innovation remains elusive. Second, the biomimicry innovation landscape is dominated by advanced economies that have relied on proactive policy interventions, while virtually no developing country has adopted biomimicry as an innovation strategy. Third, by drawing on empirical evidence from a selection of Latin American countries, this paper shows that while biomimicry presents tremendous opportunities to leapfrog towards high value-added sectors by using local biodiversity and related expertise as factor endowments, the lack of policy and institutional support has led to the persistence of important coordination failures. This paper concludes by discussing the type of public policies needed to support the integration of developing nations at the innovation frontier through biomimicry.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author
Divisions: IGA: Latin America and Caribbean Centre
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2022 12:21
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 23:57

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