Consultation meeting on the Coalition for Innovation, Circularity, and Entrepreneurship
Insights from the Consultation meeting at HLPF 2022
A concept note for the Coalition for Innovation, Circularity, and Entrepreneurship was developed in early 2022 considering: 1) the emerging and increasing interest in private sector actions, in particular with regards to small- and medium-sized enterprises; 2) the need for a more effective transition towards sustainability; and 3) the need to build on the achievements and lessons learnt from SEED’s 20 years of experience. In the same spirit as SEED was first conceived and launched, a partnership for promoting entrepreneurship for sustainable development, and looking for scaling up SEED success stories and other similar actions for more visible and long-term impacts, a consultation process with potential partners was engaged, first bilaterally and then as a group of partners at the occasion of the HLPF 2022 in New York.
The “Coalition for Innovation, Circularity, and Entrepreneurship (CICE)” has been elaborated to fill the gap of the rather limited attention given to small-scale enterprises in responding to efficiency, circularity, resilience, climate, and sustainability actions by increasing synergies and collective efforts. It aims at supporting SME programme implementers to accelerate SME innovation programmes that will enable these enterprises to drive sustainable management of resources and green climate action at scale. Green and eco-inclusive enterprises deliver change that the Coalition further enhances by combining innovation, circularity, and entrepreneurship to push for impact at scale, which eventually feeds into the much-needed transformative and systemic change.
The invitation-only meeting was attended by representatives of various international and regional organisations, business associations, and countries: European Commission, UNCTAD, UNDP, UNEP, FAO, UNIDO, ILO and IOE, UNWTO, UNGC, ITC, ICC, GGGI, Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, and Senegal (three that did not manage to attend despite clear confirmation reacted afterward, expressing interest).
Following an introduction by UNEP, host of the meeting, and Germany, funder of SEED, both early supporters of the Coalition, a PPT was delivered, highlighting issues from SEED most relevant to this initiative, and presenting the Coalition, its objectives, theory of change, workstreams and proposed next steps. This was followed by a tour de table allowing each partner to briefly present SMEs and entrepreneurship-related activities in their respective programmes and their comments on the Coalition.
Some of the highlights from the presentations and discussion, along with the Chatham House principles, are that there cannot be a just and green transition without SMEs and that there is room for specific initiatives to support them. Still, it is also important to look into existing initiatives. The CICE provides a missing global perspective, connecting various SMEs with relevant programmes and initiatives.
During the meeting, SEED provided good and successful stories on responding to the sustainability challenges in developing countries. A voice for SMEs at a global level is needed and very important. It was also highlighted that SMEs are nimbler and more flexible to meet the needs of the SDGs, and integrated approaches are needed to support them; therefore, this support needs to be localised, based on coalitions.
The bottom-up/top-down approach is the essence of the proposed Coalition. This is not only a SEED Coalition but a multi-partners initiative with SEED as one of the partners. The Coalition is to be “owned” by all partners in a “common, shared but differentiated responsibility”.
This consultation was a useful occasion for the various partners to learn about what the others are doing concerning SMEs and entrepreneurship, clearly showing the need for more exchange of information, stories, and lessons. It was also the occasion to identify areas of complementarity and synergy for mutual benefit in support of SMEs and related policies. This exchange confirmed and consolidated the rationale for this Coalition, a timely and needed initiative to connect the dots, fill gaps, accelerate and scale support for innovative actions by the SMEs with relevant policy frameworks and market instruments.