SEED Initiative
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: SEED Initiative
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Framework of action (0 hits), framework for action (0 hits),

Full Submission


a. What are the expectations for the outcome of Rio+20, and what are the concrete proposals in this regard, including views on a possible structure of the Outcome document? The outcome document should:

 acknowledge the contribution of grassroots social and environmental entrepreneurs in delivering the green economy

 include commitments from governments, multilateral including financial institutions to put into place policies, incentives and programmes to facilitate strong growth of social green enterprises and to encourage ?conventional? small and micro enterprises to move towards a triple bottom line

 provide for the development of targets and indicators, including on the growth of social and environmental entrepreneurship at the local level, and an ongoing process for evaluation of progress.

b. What are the comments, if any, on existing proposals: e.g., a green economy roadmap, framework for action, sustainable development goals, a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development, or others?

i) On a green economy roadmap: Such a roadmap should be developed at the international level and then mirrored in national and regional strategies and plans. It would benefit from an explicit inclusion of the role of social and environmental SMMEs, and of the different institutions that could support them.; The roadmap also needs targets, milestones and indicators; and a mechanism for reporting.

ii) On Sustainable Development Goals: Development is crucially dependent on access by the poor to affordable energy, both in rural and urban environments, and on food security through strengthening smallholder farmers, assisting them to implement sustainable agriculture and providing them with access to finance, to appropriate technology, and to markets. SMMEs have a crucial role to play in delivering both of these, and SD goals should include targets in these areas and ways of measuring progress towards the goals.

iii) On a revitalized global partnership: Governments and stakeholder institutions at the local level will need to take action to realise many elements of the green economy. However, a revitalised global partnership between the relevant bodies of the UN, governments and major groups will be needed to steer the process and monitor progress towards the various targets and goals. In particular, business should be a major player in the partnership, given that without its full participation, the green economy cannot become a reality. National business associations and institutions such as the UN Global Compact and World Business Council on Sustainable Development should reach out to local entrepreneurs to ensure their concerns are taken up.

c. What are the views on implementation and on how to close the implementation gap, which relevant actors are envisaged as being involved (Governments, specific Major Groups, UN system, IFIs, etc.);

Action will be required by all ? the UN and financial institutions, governments, private sector, academia, civil society and community groups - if the green economy is to become reality. Implementation needs to be from the grassroots upwards, as well as through major policy levers downwards and needs to be coherent. Therefore actors at local, national, regional and international levels need to be integrated into the development of implementation plans.

d. What specific cooperation mechanisms, partnership arrangements or other implementation tools are envisaged and what is the relevant time frame for the proposed decisions to be reached and actions to be implemented?

Cooperation mechanisms and partnership arrangements that would help to accelerate the transition to the green economy are needed with regard to:

i) SMMEs: In order to ensure that the contribution of SMMEs to the green economy is stimulated and measured, we propose that:

 government departments responsible for small business development become more directly involved in green economy;

 partnership arrangements with institutions doing global research on SMMEs (eg Global Entrepreneurship Monitor; OECD; etc.) take on the challenge of economic analysis of the contribution of social and environmental SMMEs;

 the experience of institutions working on the reporting of social and environmental impacts of SMMEs is reviewed with a view to developing a common framework;

 government departments work in partnership with business associations to put in place simple reporting mechanisms that could provide opportunities to SMMEs for enhancing their profiles and attracting finance; and that

 these actions be taken over the next two years.

ii) Implementation of Rio+20 agreements:

SEED was registered as a Type II partnership at WSSD. Its successes since then in stimulating and supporting start-up social and environmental entrepreneurs in developing countries have been in no small part due to the partnership between UNEP, UNDP and IUCN, and supporting governments and institutions (Germany, India, the Netherlands, Spain, South Africa, the UK and the USA, Conservation International, and Hisense). At the same time, it has championed those start-ups that have themselves started their activities in a partnership structure. This often involves two or more of a national or international NGO, a community-based organisation, a local or national government body, a company, and a research institution. Again, the use of partnership, coupled with careful partnership management, is a critical success factor for the establishment and scale up of such enterprises.

On the basis of this experience, partnerships, particularly between different types of stakeholders, should feature as one of the implementation tools for Rio+20. While the post-WSSD partnership experience has been mixed for some, it has been an important implementation modality for SEED, and SEED would recommend that an emphasis on effectiveness of partnerships be continued in the Rio+20 document. Where possible, the output document should highlight the potential role of existing partnerships in taking forward the Rio+20 outcomes. All current and future partnership arrangements should be time bound and measurable, so that progress can be assessed and gaps in implementation more readily identified.

Partnerships need to change over time to reflect the changing circumstances and needs of any initiative. They may complete their objective and then be wound up, or it may be necessary to discontinue them because they are not working as partnerships or cannot successfully deliver their original objectives. Good discipline is needed in dealing with each of these circumstances. It should not be seen as a sign of failure to wind up a collaboration, but rather a willingness to adapt, change and find new ways to solve problems.

Specific Elements:

Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication How the green economy can be a means to achieve sustainable development in its three dimensions, and poverty eradication, and its potential added value The green economy is not just about new sectors of economic opportunity; it is also about the need (and opportunity) to build social and environmental dimensions into existing sectors and jobs. Since the global economy is driven very largely by small, micro- and medium-sized enterprises1, putting in place incentives for them to move towards a triple bottom line and introducing mechanisms to stimulate and facilitate the emergence of enterprises that integrate social, economic and environmental benefits into their business model should be a central plank of efforts to transition to the green economy. The challenge is enormous and will require efforts by all stakeholders, at all levels. But success would certainly lead to sustainable alleviation of poverty, improved community resilience, to better management of natural resources, and to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Experience to date, including what has worked and how to build upon success, what are the challenges and opportunities and how to address the challenges and seize opportunities The SEED Initiative was founded by UNEP, UNDP and IUCN at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development to further social and environmental entrepreneurship, alleviate poverty and promote the sound management of natural resources; it is hosted by UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Through the SEED Awards scheme, SEED has since 2005 assisted over 70 innovative local social and environmental entrepreneurs working in partnership in developing countries to establish and scale-up. The Winners have been rewarded with a package of tailored capacity building, networking and profiling nationally and internationally.

Information from over 1000 applicants and Winners has been included in a series of studies to reveal the barriers and enabling factors. The main findings of the baseline2 were that small social and environmental enterprises:

 have social targets relating to job and revenue creation in communities to alleviate poverty

 focus on strengthening the social structure and resilience of communities

 invest a significant amount into training in local communities and that they need assistance with:

 skills to adopt more business-oriented approaches for managing and financing their work

 access to technology

 partnership management

 setting measurable social, environmental and business targets, and monitoring and evaluation against those targets.

SEED hosted a high level Symposium on the Green Economy: Accelerating the Transition, in South Africa in April 2011, addressed by the Deputy Minister for Economic Development and attended by a wide range of stakeholders from government, the private sector, academia, and local entrepreneurs and communities. The aim was to explore linkages between policy frameworks and local entrepreneurs. Relevant findings3 were:

 Partnerships across institutions, sectors and states are essential to achieve the necessary policy coherence and implementation on the ground. In most countries, there is a need to strengthen capacity for policy development at the environment and economy nexus both within and between states and institutions. Policy coherence at the national level is an important enabling factor for the success of local enterprises.

 The green economy should be people-centred, aimed at poverty alleviation and with a pro poor approach, supported by research and aid coordination. Indicators for the green economy should be sensitive to measuring pro poor outcomes.

 Innovative approaches and incentives are needed to build capacities that meet the immediate needs of green economy entrepreneurs.

 Innovation and investment are essential components for moving to the green economy. Research into new processes, the development of intellectual property and the use of IP as an asset to attract investment need to be part of the enabling policy environment. The value chain of research, IP development, entrepreneurship and investment is essential for the implementation of the green economy.

 The green economy can and should have its roots at the local level, in small, micro and medium-sized socio-environmental enterprises. Governments play a central role in setting policy, creating skills development programmes, supporting research, addressing policy coherence and building institutional relationships. Added to this is their responsibility for policies, regulations and programmes for support to the SMME sector so that social and environmental enterprises can thrive and build the green economy from the ground up.

Together these reports provide evidence of the urgent need for access to technologies, skills development and training opportunities for both entrepreneurs and local communities. Without these, there will not be the capacities on the ground to absorb the financial flows and the transition to a Green Economy will not take place as rapidly as it might. While there is no shortage of good and innovative ideas, translating and consolidating these into solutions and opportunities at the local level requires solid financial and business skills and discipline which are often in short supply. Without these, there will not be the capacity at local level effectively to absorb monetary flows from investments in the green economy. At the same time, direct action to provide incentives to drive the green economy at the local level is an imperative.

Possible elements of an agreement in outcome document on a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication

The range of sectors contained within the green economy and of stakeholders who need to be involved in its implementation in order to deliver poverty alleviation and the sound management of natural resources demands action at all levels. Building on the points made above, the outcome document should spell out that governments and other stakeholders need to:

 introduce financial assistance and incentives, enabling and coherent regulatory frameworks, access to technology, and related capacity building measures, into national strategies and plans to secure the rapid growth of social and environmental small, micro and medium-sized enterprises that will drive the green economy from the ground up.

 develop indicators and reporting mechanisms for SMMEs to demonstrate pro-poor and environmentally beneficial outcomes as a result of their activities

 stimulate and support green social innovation particularly in sustainable agriculture, access to low-carbon energy and climate change adaptation and mitigation at the local level, including through entrepreneurship and capacity building, in order to address local problems and poverty and build economic and social resilience. Institutions which work across local, national and international levels can play a major role in bringing this about.

SEED Secretariat

October 2011
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