Small steps, big impact: the role of SMEs in saving our planet

November 30, 2023

As we approach the end of 2023 and with COP28 on the horizon, I find myself reflecting on the state of environmental progress on a global scale over the past year. It can be disheartening to witness the lack of urgency surrounding the climate crisis; every year the pressure mounts and time slips away in the race to save our planet. While governments and legislators talk, it’s small businesses and individuals that feel the day-to-day responsibility to rescue our planet. However, even amidst the overwhelm, I remain optimistic when I see the dedication of so many businesses to do the right thing and the unwavering support from individuals driving this momentum.

Until I started this journey as a Sustainability Officer for Cuttsy+Cuttsy I didn’t realise just how dire the climate crisis is. I understood the ice is melting, wildfires are increasing, and ecosystems are struggling to adapt to this rapid pace of change. But in reality, the situation is even more urgent. That in itself really should be enough to make us all (big business, governments and lobbyists included) sit up and listen... but unfortunately, it's just not the case.

But before we start to get too discouraged with the big players, what I’ve come to realise over the last two years is that Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) can make an impact. Playing a pivotal role in economies worldwide makes our participation in sustainable practices crucial for achieving meaningful progress in the fight against climate change. SMEs are agile enough to make foundational changes at the heart of our businesses and make sustainability part of our business strategy for the future. Afterall, sustainability is not a tick box exercise, it’s the core pillar and backbone of all future businesses.  

Knowing the vital role SMEs are playing on the global stage, I hope that legislators and policy makers at COP28 recognise the disproportionate burden of policies laid on SMEs and use the platform to help pave the way for frameworks and actions to support their journeys to net zero. SMEs possess the agility and capacity to implement innovative solutions that can significantly reduce their carbon footprint. This could range from adopting renewable energy sources and implementing energy- efficient technologies to adopting circular business models that minimize waste.

While navigating the climate risk within our agency, we have learnt one of the best ways of future proofing your business is to understand your risks through the effects of climate change and of course where there is also an opportunity to be had. In our quest to find our risks through CDP’s methodology we were able to establish the areas that could become problematic and the opportunity to expand our services. After attending the recent CDP conference in London, it was refreshing to hear the that they understood some of the bug bears for companies, when going through the submission process. CDP has certainly been valuable to us but it’s not without its challenges. So, hearing that they are streamlining the process, and making the experience more user friendly was music to my ears. The big takeaway for me is the combining of their three questionnaires. Currently, as an SME we are only required to complete the climate submission. Next year our questionnaire will be combined with all three CDP questionnaires (forestry, water and climate). This combination is well over due and will allow thousands of companies to see a much bigger picture on the impact their company has on the planet. Either way, once we are armed with the findings we will be able to make the necessary changes to provide a sustainable business for whatever mother nature has waiting in the wings.

As sustainability becomes increasingly important for consumers, investors, and partners, SMEs that prioritise climate action will be better positioned to thrive in a low-carbon future. By aligning their operations with the goals set forth in COP28, SMEs can not only contribute to global climate targets but also future proof their businesses, ensuring long-term viability in a world that demands environmentally responsible practices. So, I won’t be giving up hope just yet.

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