Delivering Sustainable Development at the Entrepreneurial and Grassroots level: challenges, lessons learned and opportunities
20 Jun 2012Entrepreneurial and grassroots level enterprises will continue to play an important role in implementing sustainable development as they incorporate social and environmental considerations into their business models. Utilizing roundtables and an ideas marketplace, Session 1 will act as a key consultation that would respond to the needs of entrepreneurs and grassroots initiatives wishing to enhance their contribution to the Rio+20 outcome.
10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Pavilion T (Major Groups Pavilion) - Room T-3
10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Pavilion T (Major Groups Pavilion) - Room T-3
This session will examine the role and elements of a new mechanism for budding entrepreneurs and grassroots partnerships to provide better coordinated support at the global, regional and national levels. A platform for social and environmental entrepreneurial partnerships to report on progress towards their goals and for showcasing outstanding contributions will also be explored. New and existing partnerships involving and supporting small, micro, and medium-sized enterprises will be launched and strengthened.
Partnerships to support entrepreneurship
There have been many notable examples of successful partnerships in various sectors over the last 10 years but also many challenges. And there is no single recipe for success. Nonetheless, partnerships are a central tool for sustainability, whatever the particular sector.
Small, micro and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs) constitute the engine of the global economy. They often develop innovative products and services that provide solutions to local needs and they provide employment. Sustainable development will be considerably furthered therefore if increasing numbers of SMMEs incorporate social and environmental considerations into their business models, mirroring the corporate social responsibility programmes of larger businesses. That requires them to partner with stakeholders. However, most emerging SMMEs and grass-roots organizations looking to operate along more than the single "profit" bottom line have difficulties in developing relevant skills, including partnership management. Like "conventional" SMMEs, they face obstacles in accessing finance, and they have no widely accepted reporting and accountability mechanism.
Harnessing the potential of entrepreneurial partnerships to deliver sustainable development therefore depends crucially on:
* The existence of enabling frameworks to support growth in the numbers of SMMEs that are developing innovative and cleaner solutions to local problems or are building social and/or environmental benefits into their business models.
* Partnerships between SMMEs and other stakeholders to ensure that their operations are anchored in communities and prevailing local or national circumstances.
* Opportunities for SMMEs to develop business skills, and to gain access to finance and investors, and to technology and research; and the development of standards for reporting and accountability on SMMEs' contributions to social, environmental and economic goals.
There are many sources of information about online and offline learning, business planning, and financing. It is not always easy for budding entrepreneurs to navigate their way to obtain the assistance most relevant for them. The question arises as to how existing tools can be strengthened and made more widely available.
Furthermore, without an effective mechanism for collecting and reviewing ongoing experiences, policy fora will not have an extensive evidence base, and opportunities between entrepreneurs and potential partners will not be exploited as much as they might be.
Given the public policy, business, academic and civil society participation at Rio+20, the proposed session at the Partnerships Forum could thus allow reflection on the sort of mechanism/platform that would be most accessible and relevant as well as answer the needs of stakeholders. It might also provide a fresh profiling of innovative and successful partnerships involving entrepreneurs that are delivering sustainable development.
Such reflection could provide an empirical evidence base for deliberations of policy makers. The session at the Rio+20 Partnerships Forum could also be a key consultation that would respond to the needs of entrepreneurs and grass-roots initiatives wishing to enhance their contribution to the Rio+20 outcome.
Key Issues Expected to be Discussed
1. The role and contribution of SMMEs to sustainable development, including to youth employment.
2. The enabling factors and barriers for social and environmental SMMEs.
3. The types of partnerships that social and environmental SMMEs need - academia, civil society, media, government.
4. The possibility to establish a more effective mechanism for collecting and showcasing experience/ evidence on successful sustainable development partnerships involving entrepreneurs.
5. The exchange of information on ?who does what? and on ways to collaborate among stakeholders.
6. More relevant reporting mechanisms for entrepreneurs to showcase and inform on their work in implementing sustainable development.
7. Relevance of launching a collaborative platform to better coordinate support at the global, regional and national levels for entrepreneurs and grassroots partnerships.
1. Recap the last 10 years: lessons learned and challenges in the ability of partnerships to deliver sustainable development.
2. Look ahead to the next 10 years: enhancing the contribution of entrepreneurs, grass roots initiatives and other relevant stakeholders in delivering Rio+20 outcomes.
3. Discuss what spurs how entrepreneurial and grass roots partnerships and how they are constituted, what resources are needed during that process,
4. Focus on the needs of policy makers to share their experience in creating enabling conditions, frameworks, laws and incentives for SMMEs in their countries, and discuss what a platform for collaboration among policy makers might include
5. Consider how to bring together, for use by policy makers, the showcasing and evidence of the contributions of SMMEs to the goals of sustainable development, which could support the review of certain MDGs in 2015.
6. Discuss the development and launching of an enhanced platform which would help to identify areas for effective partnerships engaging entrepreneurs and grassroots initiatives as well as facilitate the access to capacity building institutions and funders (including all awards/reward and recognition opportunities). Such a platform should be accompanied by a tailored mechanism enabling partnerships to report on their accomplishments and needs. This could also serve to provide an evidence-base for policy makers for the delivery of sustainable development by Small, Medium and Micro-Enterprises (SMMEs) post-Rio+20.
Outline programme of the Session:
* Opening speech
* Presentations and videos:
Accomplishments and needs of social and environmental entrepreneurs
* Panel discussion:
Assistance available to entrepreneurs
Options for a new mechanism/platform for entrepreneurs
* Round tables - ideas marketplace:
Responding to the needs of sustainable development entrepreneurs
Partnerships, entrepreneurs, policy makers, business, academia and civil society explore what resources are available, identify relevant institutions, outline key issues that would make a difference to the ability of SMMEs to scale up, and consider options for better enabling frameworks at the global, regional and national level for entrepreneurs and grassroots partnerships.
Discussion of emerging ideas
* Nextsteps and conclusions
* New and existing partnerships involving and supporting SMMEs to be launched and strengthened.
* Enhanced platform for more effective and user-friendly mechanism to better coordinate support at the global, regional and national levels for entrepreneurs and grass-roots partnerships.
* Mechanism(s) and/or platform for social and environmental entrepreneurial partnerships to report on progress towards their goals and for showcasing outstanding contributions.