SwitchMed is participating at the 17th Meeting of the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development
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The Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development convenes in Athens from 4 to 6 July for their 17th meeting to take stock of progress made towards the strategic objectives of the Mediterranean Strategy on Sustainable Development (MSSD), the region´s guiding framework launched in 2016 for promoting sustainable and inclusive development. Interventions by Mediterranean countries, non-state actors and observers as well as UN Environment MAP´s regional activity centres will provide a clear picture of advances made in the past two years, a period marked by significant evolutions in sustainable development, including the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as the Regional Action Plan for Sustainable Consumption and Production in the Mediterranean.
Gaetano Leone, Coordinator of the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), opened the meeting on 4 July and recalled that the Mediterranean is facing many complex environmental challenges and that there is a delicate balance between human livelihoods and the state of natural resources. At the same time, he underlined that these challenges hold the potential for new opportunities. Green and social entrepreneurs in the region are seizing this opportunity and are implementing solutions to environmental and social challenges while generating jobs and strengthening community-based initiatives. The MSSD recognises the contributions that green and social entrepreneurs are making to the achievement of the region´s sustainable development goals, and the need to build their capacities to support the transition to green and blue economies, as referenced in MSSD Objective 5.
UN Environment MAP, through its Regional Activity Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP/RAC), is making contributions to the MSSD objectives in this regard through its implementation of the EU-funded SwitchMed Programme (http://switchmed.eu), which aims to facilitate the shift to more sustainable lifestyles in eight Mediterranean countries. SCP/RAC provided an overview of the menu of business services it offers to green entrepreneurs, including a training and incubation programme for green startups, networking opportunities to exchange knowledge and raise visibility about green and social entrepreneurs including through the Switchers platform (http://theswitchers.eu), as well as tools to improve access to finance. At the same time, SCP/RAC called to the attention of the MCSD some key recommendations in support of green and social entrepreneurs that were identified during a series of stakeholder consultations organised in the context of SwitchMed. These recommendations include the following:
- Share knowledge to empower green entrepreneurs, for example through the establishment of a platform to centralise information and tools for green entrepreneurs, to improve coordination among actors in the green economy and to ensure transparency about available support mechanisms
- Raise awareness among the public and policy makers about the green economy and sustainable lifestyles and how green and social enterprises are driving changes on the ground that are helping to make the transition to the green economy
- Simplify administrative procedures for the establishment of green businesses, and support green businesses in this process
- Seek ways to incentivize green business practices, including through tax exemptions, reduced customs on raw materials and equipment required by green businesses, and by promoting market policies that account for environmental and social externalities
Another action identified in the MSSD related to green and social entrepreneurship is its Flagship Initiative 5.4.5, the development and implementation of a Mediterranean business award for environmental innovation. SCP/RAC took the opportunity to propose technical assistance to the MCSD for this flagship initiative, based on its successful collaboration in the context of SwitchMed with the Catalan Waste Agency on an eco-design award for businesses. This award – the Catalonia Eco-Design Award - seeks to recognize innovative products and services that promote circular economy solutions and a life cycle design approach, in an effort to inspire entrepreneurs, designers, students and others to improve the environmental performance of products. More information on the award is available by clicking on the picture below.
The 2015 edition of the award featured an international category which attracted submissions from countries throughout the Mediterranean, making it the only existing award with regional scope for businesses that promote environmental innovations. The criteria for the award could serve as a starting point for discussions about the basis for a Mediterranean business award. SCP/RAC affirmed its willingness – along with the Catalan Waste Agency – to provide assistance and to facilitate discussions about the creation of a task force among the MCSD to establish a roadmap for the implementation of the Mediterranean business award.
The MCSD will conclude its meeting on 6 July with a set of recommendations based on the exchanges about how to step up progress on all of the objectives identified in the MSSD.
Recommendations from Mediterranean stakeholders of SwitchMed on how to promote green and social entrepreneurship are being presented to the region’s policymakers by SCP/RAC: create a knowledge platform to empower green entrepreneurs, expand efforts to raise awareness and build capacities, incentivise green business practices through tax exemptions, reduced customs and market policies to take into account social and environmental externalities.