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Impact of the Decision To Leave the EU

Impact of the Decision To Leave the EU

It is now clear that the British people have made the choice to leave the European Union. The countr...


Small Business Embedding Sustainability in SMEs

Despite representing more than 90% of global businesses SMEs have been marginalised in the debate about sustainable business practices and have been slow to adopt environment-related improvements. In the EU, only 29% of SMEs have introduced measures to save energy or raw materials (compared with 46% of large enterprises) and only 4% have a comprehensive energy efficiency system.

In its new policy paper Embedding Sustainability in SMEs,[639kB] ACCA's Global Forum for SMEs has called on a number of groups to take action to help smaller businesses to enable them to become more efficient and environmentally friendly.

A series of SME-specific measures and approaches will need to be adopted, if these efforts are to gain any significant momentum –with policy makers taking into account not only the differences between large companies and SMEs, but also the differences between micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, says the report.

As many small businesses are run by owner-managers – with no shareholders or boards to answer to – they have more freedom to implement sustainability practices – or to ignore them. This is why it is important that governments and business-support professionals ensure that SMEs are aware of the quick gains they can make through increased efficiency and of the grants, financial assistance and incentives that may be available for those which commit to cutting emissions or which reduce waste.

This includes conditions that are set so that only businesses with sustainable practices have access to large and potentially lucrative public sector supply chains. While small business owners need to become more proactive and strategic when it comes to adopting sustainable business practices, regulators also need to ensure that they 'think small first' when it comes to developing regulations which are aimed at encouraging such practices, such as sustainability reporting.

SMEs need to follow five steps to sustainability reporting, which are to committing the business publicly to taking action; assessing the business' impact; setting targets for reducing impact; acting to reduce impact and publishing the business' policies and actions.

Accountants are urged to work with local environmental-sustainability experts in order to gain local access to credible knowledge; to review the environmental sustainability of their own business, then use that valuable experience to have rounded, relevant conversations, based on genuine experience, with their clients.

Source: Envirocentre - Small Business Embedding Sustainability in SMEs