Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have a critical role to play in mitigating climate change: a recent European Commission study reports that SMEs are responsible for 64% of the overall environmental impact in the EU.
The project ‘Growing Green: SME perspectives on sustainable growth in a low carbon economy’ combines leading-edge research (on SME growth processes and environmental behaviours) with practitioner expertise (in SME engagement and climate change communication).
Its primary aim is to help SMEs and intermediaries gain a better understanding of sustainable growth and its implications for their businesses.
A key component of the first stage of the project was two Narrative Workshops between the owners of SMEs and academic experts, as described in our recent blogpost.
In this webinar, Dr Chris Shaw presents key insights from the project and discusses their implications.
How do values inform, shape and support more sustainable business practices? In the Growing Green podcast below, Dr Chris Shaw of Climate Outreach speaks with Richard Hughes of Ecoveritas, an organisation that specialises in packaging waste data analysis.
Ecoveritas is an SME that provides services to large businesses such as John Lewis, Waitrose, Fatface and Fortnum & Mason, and hasn't ever lost a client to a competitor. Richard talks about the importance of listening to his clients and how he manages to conduct business in a way that is aligned with his values.
Podcast: Conversation with founder of SME Earthly Gains
How do values inform, shape and support more sustainable business practices? In the Growing Green podcast below, Dr Chris Shaw of Climate Outreach speaks with Dr Martin Gibson of Earthly Gains, a consultancy that aims to help businesses do well within the constraints of the environmental limits of the planet.
Martin reveals that he understands sustainable business as thinking in the longer term about how it fits in with a society that it both serves, and is served by. Martin goes on to note that in his twenty years of working in business he has seen this concern to not be environmentally and socially disruptive come increasingly to the fore of business thinking.
About the Growing Green project
The Growing Green project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, is a collaboration between:
- Professor Richard Blundel, Professor of Enterprise and Organisation at The Open University
- Dr Tina Fawcett, Senior Researcher at the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford (who wrote this piece about the workshop for the UK Energy Research Centre)
- Sam Hampton, Network Navigator for Business Resource Efficiency at Oxfordshire Business Support and a research student at the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford (who wrote this piece about the workshop for The Open University)
- Dr Christopher Shaw, Senior Researcher at Climate Outreach.
A large part of the promotion of the workshops to SMEs came from Oxfordshire Business Support, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (2014-20).
If the UK and other countries are to meet their carbon reduction obligations, it is clear that SMEs will need to make significant, and in some cases radical changes, not only in terms of their day to day operational practices but also in their longer term trajectories. SMEs also influence the sustainability practices of countless other organisations and individuals through their products, services and communications.