The economy of the European Union is nearly completely made up of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), to the tune of 20 million of them.
By Tanaz Buhariwalla, India Director, IDA Ireland
According to the author, Robert Swan, the gravest threat to our planet is the assumption that someone else will save it, and in an era of fast-moving technologies, this might lead to unintended consequences on the environment. It is time for every business to take responsibility for a sustainable future. However, providing an environment for businesses to thrive while focusing on sustainable growth is equally important, especially when the whole world is struggling with uncertainty as a result of the COVID pandemic. It is crucial to enable companies with solutions to the challenges they face at this time
‘Green and Clean Technology Business’ has always been a significant point of discussion for most countries and several countries over the years have built robust infrastructure and strategies for directing creative and restorative energies. Europe is one good example with many climate-conscious countries supporting business in the execution of green and clean initiatives. These countries focus on sustainability investments and promote the advancement of sustainable businesses.
The economy of the European Union is nearly completely made up of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), to the tune of 20 million of them. They create the most employment in Europe and contribute to a large part of the EU’s GDP. Although individually they have a minor environmental impact, their combined impact is enormous. In the EU region, percentage of SMEs offering green products and services are 33%. The Ecolabel initiative of the EU promotes excellence by helping companies and consumers navigate the green maze to identify products and services with a reduced environmental impact.
Some of the initiatives and policies put forth by EU countries are an example for less climate-focused countries and regions to learn. These countries offer eco-innovation funds, capacity-building workshops and more as part of their green support initiatives. Here are some highlights. Ireland, for one, is always ahead when it comes to green strategy and sustainable initiatives. The country along with its development agencies in their initiatives have a sharp focus on driving business recovery and promoting sustainable growth and investments. It is built on five interconnected pillars of Growth, Transformation, Regions, Sustainability and Impact. The Irish Government’s recent announcement agreeing to the forthcoming climate action bill has the potential to turn Ireland into a climate action leader and reach its goal of substantially reducing emissions by 2030, as also to become a carbon-neutral economy by 2050. This will be achieved while helping businesses meet their own Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals and improve their sustainability in Ireland. The pathway to a carbon-neutral economy will not only transform the manufacturing sector, have a positive environmental effect, but also create thousands of new jobs requiring new skills for existing and new sectors.
Denmark stands out in the area of biodiversity, habitat category and air quality. Known for its efficient greenhouse gas emission policies and its efforts to prevent climate change, the country’s government has dedicated their capital to an eco-friendly culture. The world’s leader in wind technologies, Denmark aims to make its capital the first carbon-neutral capital in the world. Leading by example, most of Denmark’s energy supply is through wind farms owned by citizens and investors. Sharing the UN’S vision of the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, Denmark’s action plan is centred on the 5 P's of Prosperity, People, Planet, Peace and Partnerships. Austria has a cluster of companies and institutes working on shaping green solutions for the future. They are primarily focussing on waste management and incorporating ecological knowledge into agriculture and pollution prevention efforts.
Finland has a long history of fostering sustainable development in both local and international development strategies. Its capital Helsinki leads in the energy transition to a sustainable future and aims to become CO2 neutral by 2035.
For Indian businesses, Europe offers an opportunity to benefit from the EU-Indian strategic partnership roadmap adopted at the 15th Summit between India and the European Union (EU) held virtually in July last year. Whether you have an existing base in the EU or are a first-time investor looking to develop and realise your growth agendas while navigating the disruption due to COVID, the EU countries offer numerous opportunities to succeed and thrive while embracing an inclusive and green recovery.
(The author is India Director, IDA, Ireland. The views expressed are personal and not necessarily that of Financial Express Online)