Generali and SDA Bocconi’s White Paper, a guide to the sustainable transition of SMEs
The White Paper “Fostering sustainability In Small and Medium-sized Enterprises,” promoted by Generali and developed by SDA Bocconi – School of Management Sustainability Lab, examined the relationship between sustainability and SMEs in eight European countries (Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland) in the three main areas of welfare, environment and community.
The research explored the main areas of action, the benefits and factors promoting the implementation of sustainability initiatives, as well as the barriers that hamper SMEs’ adoption of a sustainable behaviour.
In particular, the White Paper highlights that:
SMEs are at the heart of the European economy. They account for nearly the total number of firms operating in the European Union and generate over half of total value added. SMEs are also key players in European and global value chains. For all these reasons, they are essential in the European sustainable transition
Structured sustainability projects enable small and medium-sized enterprises to access certified supply chains and global markets, as well as dedicated funding and resources
Although many European SMEs already put in place sustainability initiatives, especially in the areas of welfare, environment and community engagement, their approach to sustainability is still informal and not structured, with good space and margins for growth
Education and capacity building, sustainable finance, policy framework, demand-side instruments, disclosure on materiality & assessment are the five key drivers to foster SMEs sustainable transition, concretely expressed in specific initiatives and tools
It is essential to further develop the initiatives along the five key drivers, creating an “ecosystem” where policy makers, large companies, the financial system, academia and research are called to create public-private partnerships to support SMEs.
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