November 15 – 18 saw Greenbackers’ Andrew Smith in Slovenia, and the beautiful ocean-side town of Portoroz. This trip crystalised his thinking on the importance, real value and growing drivers for all SME’s to embrace and embed ESG principles into their cleantech businesses.
I was privileged to be invited to attend the 2021 SME Assembly by the European Commission; the Assembly is the most significant event for small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe and takes place once a year during European SME week. The Assembly was expertly hosted on behalf of the Slovenian Presidency. This was my first time at this annual event – the largest for the SME community in Europe. All covid protocols were carefully observed and the in-person and online event was an excellent mix of important sessions on the theme of Togetherness + Resilience = Recovery.
Among the sessions I attended were those concerned with the New EU Mission to Restore our Oceans and Waters by 2030 focusing on what is in that Mission for SME’s, a policy hackathon on the use of regulatory compasses for the cleantech and med tech sectors to ensure the EU’s independence in these vital sectors and Environmental and Social Governance for SME’s: beyond the bottom line.
This last session helped to develop my own thinking on what ESG can mean and can do for the SME community. There were excellent contributions from Diego Mingarelli, President and CEO of Diasen. Diego set his company on a road to embedding ESG into the core of his business 20 years ago and sees the fruits from that every day. For Diego and all of his colleagues throughout his business ESG “ is part of our identity”.
Daniel Truran , Director General at ebbf- ethical business and building the future was passionate about the fact that if a business fully embeds ESG into its core then its whole ethos will be imbued with hope; staff will come to work with a purpose not a job.
Helen Jacobs, Sustainability Coordinator for VOKA Flanders Chamber of Commerce – the largest Flemish business network – explained the development of their Sustainable Business Charter in which 300 companies are supported and coached to become more sustainable,
Darja Virjent of Edutrain.me described their work with international businesses in training workshops and programs to assist those businesses seeking to introduce, improve and implement these essential changes.
All of these discussions had a hard, fact-based approach to the real benefits of adopting and embedding ESG into businesses: Sound sustainability practises lower the cost of capital, resulting in improved operational performance, and, for listed companies, have a positive influence on the performance of shares.
At Greenbackers, we commit to adopting our own ESG pillars throughout our business and do all that we can to encourage all of our cleantech businesses to fully understand all of the positive things that flow from full adoption of ESG in their businesses. We will work with partners and ESG stakeholders to provide the best resources and ongoing help in their ESG journey.
As a start, we would encourage you all to follow the links embedded in this article. Seek inspiration from those referred to in them. We are also pleased to share links to some further resources that we have gathered together here as well.