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The CSCP Advises the 6th ASEM Working Group Seminar on SME Capacity Development

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) provide 70% of jobs and are major contributors to value creation, generating up to 60% of value added in OECD countries. In September, the ASEM Working Group convened in Luxembourg to develop recommendations on how to support SMEs to embrace eco-innovation to create greater impacts.

Efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are gaining momentum throughout the global community. The member states of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) have been focusing on the role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in achieving sustainable development. In preparation for the upcoming 12th ASEM Summit, taking place in Brussels on 18-19 October 2018, the ASEM Working Group convened in Luxembourg in September to prepare recommendations for enhancing European and Asian SMEs’ competitiveness through eco-innovation. The event was co-organised by the Luxembourg and South Korean governments, and attended by governmental representatives from Bulgaria, Denmark, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

The CSCP’s project manager, Kartika Anggraeni, contributed to the 6th ASEM Working Group, providing insights from various projects that the CSCP has implemented in Asia as well as Europe. Until recently, the CSCP has been hosting the EU SWITCH-Asia Network Facility (2008-2017) and has implemented three SWITCH-Asia grant projects located in Bhutan, India and Thailand. Currently, two ongoing SWITCH-Asia projects are being co-implemented in Pakistan and Mongolia to promote energy/resource efficiency among Pakistani SMEs in the sugar sector and eco-labelling among Mongolian wool and cashmere SMEs.

Kartika Anggraeni shared her experiences in working with the EU-funded SWITCH-Asia projects. In Asia, SMEs often face four major challenges: lack of capacity or competence to innovate, the use of inefficient or obsolete technology, lack of access to finance (to invest in cleaner production and consumption), as well as a lack of enabling policy for SMEs to thrive.

As a solution to these challenges, she suggested the ASEM Working Group focus on building the capacity of SMEs, ensuring they have the right knowledge and training to innovate and operate sustainably. A SME Competence Centre that provides various training programmes and facilitates exchange between European and Asian businesses would be key in achieving these goals.

These suggestions were integrated into formal recommendations for the 12th ASEM Summit that will convene about 50 heads of member countries. If these recommendations are accepted by the Summit, each of the national governments of the ASEM countries will provide the means for implementing the recommendations.

For more information, please contact Kartika Anggraeni.

Photo by © Marie De Decker