SME Sustainability Challenges 2013

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This report identifies SME-specific challenges, while highlighting the contributions of small firms towards sustainability.

SMEs & Society

This year, NBS’s SME Council brought the importance of interactions with society to the forefront. These interactions involve a company improving the relationships with actors of its value chain, with policy-makers, with researchers, with NGOs and with clients. For SMEs, success in sustainability depends on the extent of collaboration and the quality of these interactions.

This report outlines the eight main sustainability challenges confronting SMEs in 2013. These challenges reflect two major concerns: to improve organizational performance and to improve integration into society. As such, they strike a balance between the pillars of sustainable development, innovation, and business continuity. Moreover, they aim to build bridges between SMEs and governments to coordinate sustainability efforts, enhance communication and engage the public – their clientele.

The challenges identified in this report were defined by a council of directors of small and medium-sized enterprises as well as representatives from public and government organizations. Each organization represents a different sector and is recognized for its commitment to sustainability. NBS will continue to hold SME Council meetings annually to take stock of the challenges faced by SMEs.

SME Sustainability Challenges in 2013

The following eight questions, in order of importance, define the greatest sustainability challenges facing SMEs in 2013:

  1. How can SME investments in sustainability drive concrete financial results?

  2. How can SMEs promote the creation of coherent and efficient sustainability regulations?

  3. How can SMEs innovate to maintain competitiveness and contribute to sustainability?

  4. How can SMEs participate in raising public awareness on the three pillars of sustainability?

  5. How can SMEs embed sustainability actions in the organizational culture?

  6. How can SMEs prepare business succession and ensure continuity?

  7. How can manufacturing SMEs prompt retailers to promote their sustainable products?

  8. How can SMEs increase competitiveness against greenwashers?

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