"Step up and act now, or step aside"
Insights from the celebrations over the past few months and next steps
The period of the last few months has been the occasion of celebrations, 50 years of Stockholm first global environment conference, 50 years of UNEP and 50 years of the Limits to Growth. At these occasions, the objectives were to take stock, assess objectively, draw lessons and define a more responsible pathway with clear actions for the near- and long-term future. To some extent, the first 3 objectives were covered, but for the fourth, talks are still far more important than responsible actions. Individual, business and national interests are still the drivers instead of the Common Goods, social equity and environmental sustainability.
When scientists tell us that our exploitation and use of resources together with our consumption patterns will lead us soon, matter of years not decades, to various points of no return, policy makers and business leaders remain on the wishful thinking cloud for delivering, maybe, on carbon neutrality and other dreams in 20, 30 or more years. Regretfully, despite interesting and objective assessments and various cries of alarms from youth, local communities and scientists, the outcomes were “business as usual”: we should do this and do that. All the hard work put into rich preparatory documents, open consultations with stakeholders, dialogues and side events, seem to have gone up in smoke. As the Youth Group at Stockholm+50 concluded their intervention, “either step up and act now, or step aside”.
SEED, together with partners, organised at the occasion of Stockholm+50 two multistakeholders events on “How to change business” to better deliver on sustainable consumption and production, 31 May, and on the “SMES as Gamechangers from global to local actions towards sustainability”, 2 June. In both events, SEED’s aim was to highlight and to demonstrate, once more, the importance and necessity for recognising and valuing the role of and contribution from the SMEs in the transition to sustainable development. “No net zero without the SMES”.
Besides carrying out our related messages with practical examples, SEED was present together with two young entrepreneurs from Ecoplastile and Mycotech, previously recognised and enabled by the SEED Awards, presenting their innovations and strongly advocating for green entrepreneurship with needed enabling capacity if the national and global leaders are serious and responsible about circularity and sustainability. And unfortunately, once again in such global conferences, the SMEs were not present to make themselves heard and understood, except few isolated cases, such as our two SEED partner entrepreneurs.
SEED has also celebrated, not 50 years yet, but 20 years, of actions with and for the eco-inclusive SMEs, demonstrating that it makes good social, environmental, economic and business sense to work with SMEs, providing them with tailored enabling capacity and accompanying them to next steps of their process. This was the purpose of a webinar “From Impact to Scale: Challenges & Successes Leading the Way to an Eco-Inclusive SME Action Agenda”, always with active contributions from outstanding innovative entrepreneurs.
Despite visible achievements, by SEED and also by other initiatives, the challenges remain great ahead of us. More extended and well anchored impacts are urgently needed with needed scaling up. To that end, SEED is proposing the establishment of a “SMEs Coalition” to give voice and accompany SMEs in their development journeys and process, the “Coalition for Innovation, Circularity and Entrepreneurship”.
SEED will continue to actively and strongly advocate for the role of SMEs, being the main work force and economic sector in almost all countries, essential for local social and ecosystems balance. This will be the case at the occasion of HLPF 2022 in July, and the 4 Regional Multi-stakeholder Innovation and Policy Labs on “Scaling up future-proof solutions for green-circular SMEs” over the next 5 months.
Follow our participation at high-level events to bring SMEs into the discussion!