The seventh edition of the Small Business Standards’ (SBS) Annual Event was held online on Wednesday 26 May, bearing the title “SMEs as drivers of green growth: Turning challenges into opportunities with standards”. As the name suggests, it highlighted the importance of SMEs as being the driving force in order to transition into a greener and more sustainable future. The event provided ample discussion regarding the significance of SMEs having the right legal framework to meet the targets in the EU Green Deal, and at the same time, reaching the circular economy goals. A strong link between the green and the digital transition was brought forward and that these two transitions should work hand in hand, with SME-oriented standards, so as to reach these goals.
The conference, which is a Partner Event of the European Green Week 2021, was opened by a welcome speech by Gunilla Almgren, the President of SBS. She directed her attention to SMEs as being “essential to a green recovery” for the European community and that SBS thrives to involve SMEs in the standardization process. She also noted that the green transition will be very beneficial to SMEs but at the same time they will be faced with a number of challenges. “Standards may probably not be the first thing that comes to mind to most people! Nevertheless, they play an essential role when addressing some of these challenges”, said SBS President Gunilla Almgren.
The welcome speech was followed by an opening session – “Setting the scene – SMEs and the EU green recovery”. This session included prominent speakers from the Directorate-General Environment (DG ENV) from the European Commission, MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen (FI/EPP), and SMEunited. The speakers of this session spoke about how the recent pandemic has affected everyone, including SMEs, and that the recovery transition plans from the pandemic must be both green and digital.
The event was then divided into two main panels: “Reuse and repair in a circular economy” and “How can standards support SMEs to go circular?”. It was made evident during these two panels that SMEs need standards and that they need to adapt or modify their current business models to a more circular economical one in order for them to remain competitive.
The closing remarks were carried out by Hubert Gambs, the Deputy Director-General and SME Coordinator at the European Commission, and Maitane Olabarria, the Director of Small Business Standards. They highlighted the importance to enhance the participation of SMEs in standardization for the green and digital transition whilst keeping the European core values at heart. SBS emphasized that they are working constantly to raise more awareness within SMEs to be able to move to more circular business models.
SBS Director Maitane Olabarria closed off the event with the following vital words: “I am convinced that if future strategies fully consider SMEs, it will help to strengthen the European standardisation system, make our SMEs more competitive and support the green transition.”
EBC is a member of SBS and the coordinator of its sectoral approach for construction.
To access the recording of the SBS Annual event “SMEs as drivers of green growth: Turning challenges into opportunities with standards”, click here