In July 2015, a few months ahead of the one Climate Summit set to determine the future of Humanity, we realized an important voice was missing in the conversation, that of entrepreneurs and SMEs with solutions not only to climate change but also to inequality. In these big international arenas, business, as a stakeholder, is often represented exclusively by multinationals and large companies. Yet, small businesses create most of the employment worldwide, specially in vulnerable communities, and are a phenomenal engine of sustainable innovation given their innate agility and responsiveness to people’s needs.
This is the reason behind our decision, for it was a firm and conscious decision, to spark off the Ecopreneurs for the Climate movement; seeking to empower, connect, and promote these changemakers and supportive ecosystems around them. We wanted to bring their viable and sound alternatives to the world stage, for decision makers to consider, and everybody to know of. And so we did, and they took center stage to make their valuable contributions. In Paris for the historic COP21, where the game-changing Paris Agreement was reached. In Marrakech for the action-oriented COP22, where decades-long negotiations gave way to cooperation and innovation strategies to implement the Agreement, and transform our society.
From there, a new chapter in History began, with ecopreneurs emboldened to scale up their impact, and organizers ready to build the largest and most inclusive movement to date. In Bologna, on January 26 we’ll kick off the Horizon 2020 ROCK project, aimed at regenerating city centers all across Europe through cultural, innovative, and green economy initiatives. And next comes your town, your community, our Earth.
Paris (COP21) – December 2015On November 23-28 2015, more than 300 green economy professionals from 7 major cities in 4 countries (Germany, Spain, France and the Netherlands) participated in the 2015 Global Week of Green Business and the Climate Movement, with 16 of them winning the 2015 Climate Champion Awards. #ECO4CLIM15’s phenomenal reach clearly showed how green SMEs can significantly contribute to the Climate Movement by providing socially-empowering and financially-viable business solutions to mitigation and adaptation challenges. A powerful statement and a loud voice calling for our leaders to enact supportive legislation, and facilitate the transition towards a sustainable economy grounded on a vibrant fabric of SMEs.
Two weeks later, we carried that voice all the way to the COP21 Climate Summit in Paris, where, alongside the green SME winner of the 2015 Climate Champion Special Award –Ciclogreen–, we participated in the official EU workshop “Opportunities and challenges for SMEs in realizing the COP21 vision” organized by GreenEcoNet, global partners of ours. One of the very few official side-events entirely dedicated to SMEs, their solutions and needs. A seed of change, a sign for things to come. And then the historic Paris Agreement was reached in a groundbreaking victory for the Climate Movement as a whole.
Marrakech (COP22) – November 2016A year on, on October 24-30 2016, 22 cities from 15 countries (Algeria, Greece, Spain, Germany, Palestine, South Africa, Portugal, Togo, Tunisia, Morocco, France, Cambodia, England, Japan, and Armenia) hosted events during #ECO4CLIM16. Impact tripled compared to 2015, gathering 700+ professionals, and 100+ ecopreneurs, thanks to 27 organizers; and 97 local partners, 6 global partners, and numerous sustainable business networks and media. There were 26 winners of the 2016 Climate Champion Awards, with 2 global ones: Elum Energy -COP22 Special Award- and Green Essential -2017 NESI Forum Special Award-. In the digital world, the reach was remarkable too, attaining 15,948 web visits from 506 cities in 91 countries, and 11.9 Million impressions on Twitter.
Two weeks later, we took part in several activities within the COP22 Climate Summit in Marrakech. On November 16, our global champions pitched their sustainable innovations to an international audience, in a live chat hosted by GreenEcoNet, within the far-reaching Earth to Marrakech initiative. 2 days later (Nov. 18), in the COP22 Green Zone, we were invited by the UN Foundation to a panel at the SDGs Solutions Hour, where ecopreneurs from our networks in Morocco, France, and Spain showed how their sustainable business solutions substantially contribute to implementing the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In the afternoon, an open debate in the Green Zone’s Agora, gave them the chance to talk about their projects from a personal angle; inspiring a lively audience of children, young people, families, and professionals.
Bologna (ROCK) – January 2017Marrakech marked the turning point, triggering sweeping “glocal” action, founded on cooperation among all stakeholders, in pursuit of innovative and sustainable solutions. With no time to waste, we embarked on an ambitious Horizon 2020 project (the second largest one funded by the EU in 2016), embodying these guiding principles to perfection: ROCK -Regeneration and Optimization of Cultural heritage in creative and Knowledge cities. It aims to develop an innovative, collaborative, and circular systemic approach for regeneration and adaptive reuse of historic city centers; by transferring and exchanging best practices and successful initiatives among 10 European cities, including Bologna, Lisbon, and Skopje as principal targets (“replicator cities”).
Through urban living labs, ROCK will deliver new ways to access and experience cultural heritage, stimulate business creation and employment opportunities; all while ensuring environmental sustainability, bottom-up participation and civic engagement; in order to enhance livability, social cohesion, and safety in the areas involved. Grounded on these foundations, ECO4CLIM’s contribution to ROCK will revolve around fostering an SME-based, inclusive green economy in the target cities, along 3 major goals:
- Reinforce local ecosystems, engaging all major stakeholders.
- Boost green business creation.
- Facilitate the transfer and exchange of sustainable innovation among ecopreneurs and SMEs from all over Europe.
Next stepsWhile in 2015 and 2016 our priority has been movement building, having built a potent “glocal” community of climate practice embodied by organizers leading local chapters, and supportive partners on the local, national, and international level. Pursuing to make a profound impact, we are now evolving towards a global network of climate innovation labs, which will grow organically over time (the model scales up while governance remains local). Projecting into a 4-year horizon, starting from 15 labs in 2017, our final goal is to reach 50 labs in 25+ countries all around the globe by 2020; creating an estimated total of around 550 SMEs, 2,700 green jobs, and directly reducing carbon emissions by at least 10,700 CO2 equivalent tons.
In the labs, climate organizers catalyze multi-stakeholder co-creation by engaging ecopreneurs, civil society and other key actors in “climathons”, to design sustainable business solutions to climate-related challenges faced by cities, communities, companies, and organizations. Then, the process continues over an incentivized global crowdsourcing platform, which adds world-class innovation and international talent. The pipeline is completed by partnering incubators/accelerators that refine, and scale up the resulting climate-champion green businesses. Moreover, best practices and models are shared across the global network, for ecopreneurs to adapt and replicate locally, thus effectively transferring sustainable innovation.
An expert panel to share and reflectBut before that, as Nelson Mandela brilliantly put it, “I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended”; we want to spare a second to reflect on the journey so far, draw conclusions, revisit our vision considering the new reality, and lay out a bold roadmap forward. To this purpose, in collaboration with sponsors and partners, we are organizing a panel titled “From the Paris Agreement and the SDGs to sustainable business innovation” in various cities to:
- Share the findings of our journey, around sustainable business models and climate innovation practices from international ecopreneurs and SMEs.
- Present results of #ECO4CLIM16, the Global Week of Green Business and the Climate Movement, which involved 22 cities in 15 countries.
- Get inspired by our climate-championing ecopreneurs pitching their project.
- Learn about successful initiatives our sponsors and partners are undertaking to improve the triple bottom line of their organizations.
SponsorshipIf your company wants to align with the Ecopreneurs for the Climate Movement, and spur sustainable business innovation; we offer you the possibility of hosting a panel in your headquarters, and have one of your managers join our experts to talk about your work, and get immersed in the future of green business. Panelists can therefore comprise:
- A representative of ECO4CLIM.
- A leading partner of ours.
- A climate-championing ecopreneur.
- The Head of Sustainability, CSR, or the Environment of your company.
Besides the panel itself, becoming a sponsor of ECO4CLIM will create the following value for your entity:
- Far-reaching visibility: website, blog, social media, newsletter, press releases, annual global impact report, etc.
- An international network of climate leaders: organizers, ecopreneurs, SMEs, NGOs, experts and practitioners, corporations and large organizations, public agencies, media, etc.
- Climate innovation services: sponsoring ECO4CLIM can be regarded as a first step towards a more profound partnership, which could crystallize into a variety of services we offer to companies in our labs, ranging from climate innovation journeys to visit other cities’ green economy ecosystems, or innovation climathons to tackle your business challenges related to climate change (energy, water, mobility…) through open innovation processes with our climate practice community.
If this journey resonates with your organization. If climate innovation is in line with your business strategy. Contact us and let’s get the conversation started!