SEED side-event at UN High-Level Political Forum 2017
The HLPF 2017 SEED side event on Innovative and Eco-Inclusive Entrepreneurship, the SMEs in support to SDGs delivery was held on 13 July 2017 at UNHQ, New York.
At a time when the global community is looking for practical and “down-to-earth” approaches to effectively deliver sustainability, it is of critical importance to pay due attention to, and engage small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the sustainability process, in particular through the implementation of the SDGs.
With this aim in mind this side event was organized, as we seek to highlight the vital importance of SMEs, in particular, innovative eco-inclusive enterprises that deliver sustainable solutions, alleviate poverty, generate local income and jobs, and efficiently utilising local resources. At the same time, SMEs also identify realistic and accessible solutions and unlock opportunities through partnerships, as a response to local, regional, and national social, environmental, and economic challenges.
During the presentations and discussions, the importance of SMEs for innovation, employment / decent work, economic and inclusive growth as sustainable solutions to development challenges was emphasized. Considering the need for relevant investments, SEED plays a key role in identifying high-impact approaches and business models that are scalable and replicable. To that end, it is essential to leverage the synergies between SEED and similar initiatives, such as the Equator Prize, the Poverty-Environment Initiative, as well as Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE). Certain countries, such as South Africa are leading by example by using innovative entrepreneurship as a change lever to foster sustainable development and adapting global solutions and tools for national contexts.
However, these innovative eco-inclusive enterprises are sometimes not very “visible”. It is these hidden champions, that SEED is trying to highlight through its Awards programme and follow up support and assistance.
At HLPF 2017, the winners of the SWITCH Africa Green-SEED Awards were announced. Fifteen African eco-inclusive enterprises from Ghana, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Uganda, Mauritius, and South Africa are stellar models that demonstrate how eco-inclusive SMEs apply innovative solutions to local challenges by using existing resources in surrounding ecosystems.
A specific feature of this side event was the direct involvement of two previous SEED winners from South Africa and Colombia, who provided insights into their business challenges, opportunities, and solutions. By improving local agricultural production and recycling packaging waste to produce school tables, these entrepreneurs exhibited a strong desire to scale up and have their innovations replicated elsewhere to achieve a larger impact that contributes to the SDGs.
The announcement of the 2017 SEED Award Winners during this event as well as the presence of SME representatives from previous winners have attracted the attention of UN Radio. The interviews are available in English and French.
This event is co-organized by South Africa and SEED in partnership with UN Environment, UNDP, IUCN, PAGE and SWITCH Africa Green.