SwitchMed is promoting circular economy in Israel
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More than 100 stakeholders gathered on December 6th for the SwitchMed Synergy Workshop devoted to “Green Entrepreneurship for a Circular Economy in Israel”, organized jointly by Israeli’s Ministry of Environment and the UN Environment/MAP Regional Activity Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP/RAC) in collaboration with Kayama, the Israel Innovation Institute, Tel Aviv Municipality and The Hive accelerator.
The event provided a platform for relevant stakeholders to exchange and identify recommendations on how to promote circular economy by further empowering green entrepreneurs, grassroots initiatives and the organizations that support them. Participants included distinguished green entrepreneurs, representatives of leading grassroots initiatives that incorporate ecological and social innovations, public institutions (Ministry of Economy, Tel Aviv Municipality), as well as prominent supporting such as the Israel Innovation Institute, Academy (Tel Aviv University, Haifa University), corporations (Waze, Strauss Group, Microsoft) and leading financial actors in this domain (Impact first investments, Capital Nature, Terra Ventures).
Setting the scene: perspectives from Israel and the Mediterranean region
The context of the day’s debates was set through intervention from the Ministry of Environment of Israel, the European Union, the Israel Innovation Authority and SCP/RAC and its local experts. After the welcoming speech of Anna Ibañez, project manager of SCP/RAC and representative of SwitchMed, Mr. Ohad Carny of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, presented the work developed in Israel in the framework of SwitchMed including the national action plan on sustainable consumption and production, the national pilot projects and MED TEST activities. Dr. EyalInbar from the EU Delegation explained the activities, projects and funds that the EU have to support the transition to circular economies. Mr. Gil Shaki of the Israel Innovation Institute – Ministry of Economy, talked about the challenges that cleantech companies are facing to scale-up their projects and raised some issues to be discussed in the working groups.
Green and social entrepreneurs for circular economy innovation
The workshop continued with the case study “Cardboard Technologies”, a disruptive business model on bikes and wheelchairs made with recycled cardboard that served to show that green and social businesses are and have to be profitable. This presentation paved the way to explain activities developed by SwitchMed to support the creation of new green businesses and the “greening” of already existing SMEs along with access to finance and access to market activities.
The event gathered together Green entrepreneurs, start-ups and eco-innovative grassroots showcasing their innovative business models which included Waze, the carpool initiative of the community-based navigation start-up acquired by Google in 2013 for USD 1.3 Billion ; ECOncrete, the winner of the SwitchMed Elevator Pitch which offers concrete ecological solution for portal areas; the Switchers Criaterra with their earth tiles and HomeBiogas with their device generating energy out of households waste and; finally, Porter Urban Innovation and Sustainability Lab initiative at Tel Aviv University.
"It is crucial now to build a community and ecosystem supporting green entrepreneurs for circular economy" said Yair Engel, Representative of EPEA/Cradle to Cradle and CEO Kayama, projecting the vision for circular economy innovation
Solutions and recommendations to support eco and social innovation
With the context effectively set, participants broke out into eight clustered working groups to debate the challenges encountered in Israel to promote green entrepreneurship and eco-innovation in Israel. Here are some of the challenges and solutions suggested:
How regulation as well governmental incentives can support green entrepreneurship?
- Extend Sustainable Public Procurement, support to local Authorities, give access to information about suppliers and solutions.
- Establish binding legislation, creation of an inter-ministry team/platform.
How to capitalize on social media to promote the vision?
- Production of Short video content for social platforms such Youtube, Real World, Facebook etc. which can capture attention.
How to build entrepreneurs knowledge in sustainability & circular economy?
- By connecting all stakeholders interested in Circular Economy to create a multi-disciplinary community
How to encourage the academy to contribute knowledge and continuous learning about topics, opportunities and interest in the field?
- Facilitating access to academic knowledge to promote implementation by policy maker, Accelerator at University
What are the main sources of investments today and what can be done to attract more money to the field?
- Harnessing public assets to finance projects, routing of institutional entities, use of state assets
How to promote the subject in large corporate?
- Creating a national forum around a specific challenge (i.e. packaging) to exchange best practices, and to be funded by large companies, innovations authorities, Prime Minister’s office etc..
- Promoting Value Chain Ecosystem
The main accomplishment of the Synergy Workshop was the establishment of a set of key recommendations that will serve to support calls for increased attention to green and social enterprises and their contributions to sustainable development goals, in Israel and the Mediterranean region and to draft a White Paper that captures the recommendations articulated by stakeholders during the event and that will also integrate the results of the in-depth stakeholder interviews that are being conducted.
Finally, SCP/RAC, the SwitchMed implementing partner for activities related to green entrepreneurship and civil society initiatives, will prepare a regional report that summarizes the common trends identified during the Synergy Workshops conducted in all eight of the SwitchMed participating countries. This regional report will provide evidence of the identified needs of countries for sustained support of capacity building and technical support to foster green and social enterprises in the Mediterranean.