Small to Medium Businesses and Climate Change

Governments, institutions and large multinational organizations have taken much of the action in combating climate change. However, one key sector remains largely unengaged: small to medium enterprises (SMEs), who represent over 90% of businesses in the world, 50% of global GDP, and account for 60-70% of industrial pollution worldwide.

As SMEs make up such a large percentage of the world's employers and workforce, it is critical to engage them in sustainability measures in order to meet global emission reductions targets. But, the barriers to implementing sustainability measures can be higher for SMEs than larger organizations. Returns must be demonstrated within shorter periods and see greater comparable reductions than other investments (such as hiring cheaper labour or buying cheaper equipment), and available money within the organization is often invested into more pressing needs.

The ClimateWise Business Network is publishing a series of blogs addressing the barriers to entry for sustainability projects experienced by SMEs, the support that exists to implement and monitor projects and the benefits and returns typically seen when projects are completed. Over the coming weeks, blogs will be published on:

  • Overcoming financial barriers to entry: the lack of capital available upfront;
  • Overcoming financial barriers to entry: the need for a shortened payback period;
  • Overcoming financial barriers to entry: less time and resources to dedicate to change;
  • Overcoming financial barriers to entry: investing in sustainability vs. other projects;
  • Addressing client needs: lack of current client demand;
  • Investing in organization: lack of internal capacity to make desired changes.

SMEs who take advantage of their position to implement sustainability initiatives now can yield the benefits of being early adopters, access support for funding and implementing projects, and potentially gain multiple competitive advantages long-term.

Next blog in this series:

Lack of resources and available capital

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