How green agenda will help SMEs to flourish
For anybody who is still in doubt or actually believed Mitt Romney's dismissal of climate change issues, the drive towards sustainable green business is gaining real momentum and pace. In the CBI report, The Colour of Growth-Maximising the potential of Green Business 2012, there is a quite remarkable statement: "Over a third of the UK's economic growth in 2011-12 is likely to have to come from green business."
While growth remains a real challenge for the UK economy, business leaders, SMEs and entrepreneurs are all making a significant contribution to economic recovery but many major obstacles remain in their path.
Right now the main agenda for many business people is the harsh reality of creating and maintaining turnover and some level of profit to keep the business going. To take on board major changes and potential costs inherent in "greening" their businesses is not necessarily high on their priority list but it needs to be.
They must be encouraged and motivated to review their business models and working practices to face the future with a green agenda and in turn be able to continue to prosper and create much needed innovation and employment opportunities.
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It is quite amazing to hear politicians now agreeing that in the UK today, more people work within the small business sector than the traditional large business and industrial sector. With increasing social mobility and flexible lifestyles for people, it is critical that small to medium-size enterprises are encouraged and helped to implement green change sooner than later and in turn derive potential benefit from taking action.
For sustainability to become truly embedded in our culture, there are those who maintain that the drive to green must be led and managed by central and local government. The very topical issue of pension auto-enrolment should be a harsh reminder of just how problematic it is for central government to positively implement change.
Unfortunately, what is happening is that Government, while keen on environmental legislation such as landfill tax are very light on incentives and this is surely the key to getting businesses , institutions and private individuals to engage with environmental issues in a pro-active way?
Too much stick and little carrot is unlikely to drive the right cultural shift that is needed to become a greener society, while still keeping the economy in shape.
Others believe equally strongly that society will only change when we educate children with green values and ensure that the next generation will act responsibly and sustainably in the future.
The SME sector holds the key to driving the sustainability programme forwards and it will be achieved through informed focus on and taking positive action in the key areas of environmental impact, people and relationships and governance or business management factors.