The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) contributed insights on SMEs and Entrepreneurship for COVID-19 recovery during the Commemoration of the UN Day on South-South Cooperation and Intergovernmental Organisations Virtual Meeting in Asia- Pacific 2021 held on September 14, 2021, hosted by United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).
Keynote addresses were delivered by Mr. António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General and H.E. Mr. Volkan Bozkir, President of the seventy-fifth session of the United Nations General Assembly. The event included panel discussions on Southern solidarity in support of a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable future while effectively responding to the global COVID-19 crisis recovery.
The panel discussions focused on 3 priority areas for the year 2021, i.e., climate change and green development, digital transformation, and small, and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and Entrepreneurship for COVID-19 recovery. These thematic areas are perceived as key areas in mitigating socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and in helping countries in the global South to build back better.
According to the Asia Development Bank report “The Asia Small Medium-Sized Enterprise Monitor 2020”, micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and the informal sector have spurred rapid economic development in Asia-Pacific. MSMEs account for on average 97% of all enterprises and employ 69% of the national labor force in the region. MSMEs can play an important role in socio-economic recovery through digitalisation and other innovative solutions, supported by enabling legal and regulatory environmental frameworks to promote inclusive and sustainable socio-economic growth across the region.
GGGI’s Senior Program Management Officer, Ms Esther Bates who participated in the panel discussions, presented on SMEs and Entrepreneurship for COVID-19 recovery, alongside counterparts from ASEAN, ECO, and SAARC. Her presentation highlighted that Pacific Island Countries are disproportionally amongst the hardest hit by the impacts of climate change – such as sea level rise and increased severity of natural disasters – and many in small businesses are already addressing risks from adverse effects of climate change to public health, food security, livelihoods, and cultural heritage.
“We at GGGI see the need to support a new generation of Green Entrepreneurs who are uniquely positioned as drivers of innovation, holding the keys to unlocking a transition to a green and sustainable future for our planet,” said Ms Bates. “As such, the major SME support initiative we are implementing in the Pacific region is to support the growth of a regional entrepreneurial ecosystem that builds on local knowledge to facilitate Pacific solutions to the unique social and environmental problems that the Pacific faces”.
Particularly in small markets, South-South Cooperation is key for a sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem through sharing knowledge, skills, expertise and resources to meet common goals.
Also critical for entrepreneurship in the Pacific is green recovery to build back better and recover from the pandemic in a way that is both environmentally and socially sustainable is key and includes a digital transition.
Recommendations from the plenary session included ensuring:
- to address both supply side as well as demand side bottlenecks faced by SMEs, providing access to raw materials and robust downstream supply chains
- participation and scaling up capacities of women, youth and marginalized groups
- a transparent and fair market access for SMEs to encourage and encouraging them to become a part of the supply chain
- substantive investment in technologies, equipment and skill development in the preview of the demand of newly emerging business practices using e-commerce and digital platforms
- to harmonize standards and policies by working collectively
Through funding support from the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD), GGGI is supporting green entrepreneurship in six Pacific Islands, (Fiji, Kiribati, Tonga, Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu) through its new Pacific Green Entrepreneurs Network program.
More on GGGI’s events, projects and publications can be found on www.gggi.org and information on the Pacific Green Entrepreneurs Network program can be read on www.pacificgreenpreneurs.com. You can also follow GGGI on Twitter and join us on Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.