Developing Sustainable Regions through Responsible SMEs
The issue to be tackled by the DESUR project is that of the difficulty that the SME of today is experiencing in becoming a business responsible with their environment. SMEs have neither the resources nor the awareness necessary to adopt sustainable practices such as: respect for the natural environment, removal of barriers and inequalities, lifelong learning, increased productivity, efficient resource usage, better quality of life for employees, etc. Given that 99% of companies in the EU-27 are SMEs and that they employ two thirds of European workers (European Commission Oct. 2010), the inactivity of SMEs in adopting such practices is a barrier to the sustainable development in a region. The regions that make up the project want to develop policies to make it easier for SMEs to adopt sustainable practices in their day to day business. That is, foster eco-innovation in the SMEs to increase competitiveness, create quality employment and be more respectful with the environment. The main objective of the project is, therefore, to improve policies, instruments and methodologies to promote responsible innovation in SMEs to progress on the path of sustainability. The DESUR partnership is made up of local and regional representatives from 7 European countries, including regions with a high degree of experience in such policies and regions who wish to advance in the development of new policies. The innovative component of the project is to address the issue from a holistic perspective. The responsible company is one that performs actions based on the three pillars of sustainability: Profit, People and Planet while at the same time maintaining the balance between all three. Without economic benefit (Profit), it is not possible to perform actions on the other axis. Without motivated personnel (People), a company will be less successful. Without caring for their environment (Planet), it cannot be said that the company achieves good results. The activities to be developed throughout the project will achieve the exchange of experiences, knowledge and good practices in policies through the collaboration of the participating regions. Activities will be developed to train staff members so that specific good practices in policies and tools can be transferred to their region; such as innovative public procurement, tax relief or public recognition through labeling or award schemes. The transfer will be ensured through the preparation and production of Implementation Plans for each region. Furthermore, the results and findings of the project that may also be of interest to other regions will be disseminated, as a guide of Good Practices and Recommendations. The improved policies as a result of all these activities will contribute to the local or regional level of compliance of the objectives the EU 2020 Strategy, to become a smart sustainable and inclusive economy.