A “green” business is first a business, i.e. an organization or enterprise engaged in the production and/or distribution of goods and services in order to make a profit. The term “green” refers to a business model that favours environmental and social aspects. A green business is one that incorporates the principles of sustainability in its business operations and which may provide solutions to environmental problems, while at the same time balancing financial, social and environmental benefits. A green business may propose environmentally safe or green products or services, thus helping the community to become more sustainable. It also pays attention to the social aspect, looking to increase its social benefits (by, for example, employing people from marginalized groups).
A green entrepreneur is a person who comes up with new business ideas to fix environmental or social issues, such as increasing energy or resource efficiency, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, lowering waste or pollution, or protecting or restoring ecosystems.
When society's understanding of the environment grows, so does the demand for environmentally friendly entrepreneurs. The scarcity of natural resources, the rise in global population, and the loss of biodiversity all play a role in the emergence of environmental issues. While the need to buy more goods harms the environment, many companies strive to raise awareness about natural resource use. The main goal of it all is to ensure long-term development. Entrepreneurs with a green outlook are known as green entrepreneurs. Green entrepreneurs are distinguished from conventional entrepreneurs by their desire to develop a business model that is economically profitable, environmentally friendly, and generates social value. Green entrepreneurs are critical for economic growth. Green entrepreneurs will contribute significantly to the reduction of unemployment, poverty, and environmental issues. Green entrepreneurs play a bigger part in environmentally sustainable activities and tasks than other types of business owners. They will contribute to the green economy by providing environmentally friendly goods and services, as well as clean energy assistance.
Environmental care is a market niche at the moment, very valuable for new startups. It is also a value creation for alliances with the stakeholders: clients, suppliers, staff, all kind of organization, etc. Implementing a Green and Social Responsible management in the entire length of the value chain in a business is the key requirement for success. This kind of projects has more support from the governments and institutions than those that only work for profit turning their backs on sustainability.
The manual of the Statistical Office of the European Commission (Eurostat, 2009) classifies green business for Environmental Goods and Services Sector into two main groups: A) Environmental Protection and B) Resources Management. Both provide the following breakdown: A.- Environmental protection 1.- Environment and climate protection. 2.- Wastewater management. 3.- Solid waste management. 4.- Soil protection and treatment, surface and ground waters. 5.- Noise and vibration control (excluded workplaces). 6.- Landscape and biodiversity maintenance. 7.- Radiation protection (excluding external security) 8.- Research and development. 9.- Other environmental protection activities. B.- Resources Management 10.- Water management. 11.- Forest resources management. 12.- Wildlife flora and fauna management. 13.- Energy resources management. 14.- Minerals management, research and development. 15.- Other natural resources management activities.
In recent years, it is known that entrepreneurs have made significant gains in areas such as green electric bicycles, eco-consulting, eco-friendly retail, sustainable construction materials, organic catering, sustainable event planning, green housekeeping service, green franchises etc.
In general, in order to start a green business, strong motivation is needed. Green entrepreneurs are not only financially driven, their interest is often sparked by an environmental challenge they wish to provide a solution to. Thus, a green entrepreneur will focus on creating new green values and on developing green products, all the while incorporating environmentally-friendly processes and sustainable social practices in his/her business model. Finally, you need to be innovative: the idea you wish to develop should be different from existing solutions or bring something new to the market. The green entrepreneur is a change agent.
A green entrepreneur is first of all an entrepreneur. According to Eric Koester, successful founders and leaders of startup businesses have in common the following skills: • Instills a vision (and reminds others when they forget). • Goal-oriented to keep the business on track and on target. • Practical and focused on solving problems efficiently. • Effective brainstormer who gathers information to develop the best solutions. • Strategic thinker focused on making decisions for tomorrow. • Good communicator. • Risk-taker. • Resilient. • Responsible for the actions of the company isn’t afraid to admit fault when needed. • Has an objective view of the company.
The first step is finding a green business idea or field in which you think you can make a difference. This initial step is followed by: - Further development and research into the business concept (i.e. market research). - Development of a business plan (containing at least a business overview, marketing and sales strategy, financial forecast and an action plan). - Deciding on the best type of business (startup or a small business) and on its legal status (sole trader, partnership, limited company, etc.). - Start thinking about the formalities: once your idea is quite clear, it is useful to talk to other entrepreneurs and advisors before taking steps to formally create the business.
Starting a business is a risky endeavour. Studies have shown that the most recurrent problems of green entrepreneurs at the beginning of their business venture are, in order of importance: - Retaining key employees. - Developing new products/services. - Creating business alliances. - Expansion to wider markets. - Finding new financing. Although these challenges may seem daunting, there are ways in which one can prevent and overcome them. Developing a strong business plan, asking for help, good management skills, a good understanding of the market and respectful human resource practices should minimize the risks. The good news is that all these are aspects that you can work on and develop in order to make your business successful.
Green jobs are decent jobs that contribute to the preservation, restoration, and enhancement of environmental quality in every economic field (e.g. agriculture, manufacturing, utilities, administration). Green jobs minimise the environmental impact of businesses and economic sectors by increasing energy, raw material, and water efficiency; decarbonizing the economy and lowering greenhouse gas emissions; minimising or eliminating all types of waste and pollution; preserving or restoring habitats and biodiversity, and assisting with climate change adaptation. Green jobs, according to the International Labour Organization, are the transformation of populations, workplaces, businesses, and labour markets into a low-carbon, sustainable economy that offers decent employment opportunities for everyone.
Green entrepreneurship can be described from two angles: the performance (products and services) and the process (or production) of a company. Entrepreneurs may start a company that is explicitly "green," offering green and environmentally sustainable goods and services (e.g. waste management). Green entrepreneurs may also use environmentally friendly processes or renewable technology to deliver their goods or services (e.g. eco-tourism). Green entrepreneurs usually include all factors of their business models, generating more decent jobs through the use of more environmentally sustainable processes while reducing the overall environmental effect of individuals or businesses that use the final product or service.
There is a common misconception that environmental consciousness and profitability are mutually exclusive. The added expense of green transformation initiatives contributes to this belief. The global trade network, on the other hand, is starting to enforce policies that involve environmental change. It is expected that applications similar to the European Union's emission trading scheme (ETS) will be applied all over the world in the not-too-distant future. Entrepreneurs that start green transformation activities earlier are expected to gain extremely high profits as a result of these implementations.
In the past, we looked more to people, infrastructure and capital as sources of economic growth, but improving resource efficiency also provides an immediate boost to growth. Businesses that use resources better drive down their costs, improve productivity, improve their image and boost their competitiveness. Resource efficiency can help us get out of the current crisis. Every percentage point improvement in resource productivity would save up to € 23 billion a year for European businesses and create up to 150,000 jobs.
Resources will become scarcer and more expensive in the future – we need to anticipate this change. Global demand for resources is increasing as the world population grows towards 9 billion people and becomes richer. More demand means higher – and more volatile – prices along with riskier supply. Also, Europe is heavily dependent on resource imports for its economy. The result is that the European economy faces a risk associated with resource use, which it needs to manage.
The scope of beneficial and profitable actions is so vast and encompassing for all levels of government, business and households that it makes sense for all to respond together. Clear policy signals and certainty are needed to trigger action as price signals are still weak. Europe's policy on resource efficiency provides a framework for actions, with milestones to be reached by 2020 for key issues and first actions. For example, inefficient resource use needs especially to be tackled in key sectors that are resource-intensive, but also inefficient: food, construction, transport. An example of a policy to promote resource efficiency is recycling – full implementation of EU waste legislation would save € 72 billion a year, and create over 400,000 jobs by 2020. Another example is shifting taxes from labour to resource consumption and pollution. Currently, some countries collect a tenth of their tax revenues from environmental taxes. Following their example would relieve pressure on public expenditure or allow for lower taxes on labour. Removing environmentally harmful subsidies would also help with budget consolidation.
We need to use the Earth’s limited resources in a more sustainable way. Our society depends on metals, minerals, fuel, water, timber, fertile soil and clean air, which all constitute vital inputs to keep our economy functioning. But we have been using up these limited resources much faster than they can be replenished, and significant shortages will ensue unless we change our approach. Europe relies on the rest of the world for many resources, such as fuel and raw materials, which are embedded in products imported from outside the EU. Scarcities and volatile commodity prices could bring instability to many regions of the world, so using resources more efficiently is imperative for us all. Turning Europe into a resource-efficient economy will require widespread reform, as there are many bottlenecks to be addressed. The resource-efficient Europe flagship initiative launched early in 2011 supplies a general framework for action, while during the year more specific actions are proposed in long-term policy roadmaps covering climate, energy and transport. A complimentary roadmap due for adoption in mid-2011 sets out a vision for the structural and technological changes needed up to 2050, with objectives to be reached by 2020 and suggestions about how they could be met. The roadmap tries to identify inconsistencies in policy and market failures that need to be resolved. Cross-cutting themes, such as consumer behaviour and the need for more investment in innovation, are in the spotlight, and key resources are analysed from a life-cycle perspective.
There are gains to be made on numerous fronts. Growth and job creation will result in new business opportunities. The construction sector, ecosystem and resource management, renewable energy, eco-industries and recycling all have a particularly high potential for employment growth. Economic stability will increase, as resource efficiency is a way to tackle the security of supply issues and market volatility in critical resources. This is important for European consumers, and for those sectors that depend on rare earth metals, freshwater, and food. Better resource efficiency will sustain the economic health of key sectors such as agriculture, forestry and fisheries. The EU industries that use their output rely on available stocks of land, soil, water and biodiversity, so higher efficiency will bring greater rewards. Adjusting to global changes in the pressures on resources will also improve long-term economic competitiveness. Switching to a low-carbon economy will help prevent dangerous climate change, and bring numerous additional benefits. This can be done through the further development of existing technologies, such as renewable energy sources and electric vehicles, and by investing in low-carbon infrastructure. As well as drastically reducing oil and gas imports, it would considerably reduce air pollution, leading to considerable savings in health costs. There are fiscal implications, too, for tax authorities. Raising revenue from resource use rather than labour can help balance public finances without negatively affecting competitiveness, while significantly promoting employment. It is a way to improve the efficiency of spending programmes.
There are five golden rules for maximising economic growth while mitigating pressure on the resource base: • Save: take existing opportunities for resource savings wherever possible – some EU economies are 16 times more efficient than others; • Recycle: increase the recycling of materials and the reuse of elements in products (mobile phones are a recent example); • Substitute: replace primary resource inputs with alternatives that offer greater efficiency and which have lower environmental impacts throughout their life cycle (by phasing out mercury, for example); • Reduce: dematerialise how we meet people’s needs, through new business models or goods and services with lower resource inputs. Examples include reducing the weight of vehicles or downloading music and entertainment legally from the internet rather than buying a solid object like a DVD. • Value: policy-makers need to find ways of bringing the proper value of natural resources into consideration in decisions, enabling the improved management of our natural resource base. Learning to value – and to put a price on – ecosystem services and natural resources will ease the pressure on the environment.
A successful green business will balance environmental, pragmatic and social aspects. Being socially conscious when it comes to your staff will allow you to attract skilled and committed candidates and keep them longer. Providing flexible hours, educational programs, child care support, and a greener work environment, you demonstrate your commitment to your employees. By integrating corporate social responsibility principles, you use your business’s resources and standing to do good, all the while building a good image, increasing customer support and improving employee engagement and satisfaction.
This Agenda is a plan of action for people, the planet and prosperity. It is a road map, a universal work guide so that countries make progress towards 17 Sustainable Development Goals and their 169 targets. These 17 SDGs establish a global and comprehensive framework of action with mechanisms based on striking causes and not symptoms of poverty, inequality, climate change and environmental degradation. "Leave no one behind" is the motto of the Sustainable Development Goals which also echoes a vision of an inclusive society for all. This working guide is an essential tool, not the only one, to develop new green business and line it up with the commitment to sustainability and responsible business practice into the (Corporate) Social Responsibility guidelines.
The 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) to transform our world work in 5 different areas and are distributed as follows. PEOPLE GOAL 1: No Poverty GOAL 2: Zero Hunger GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being GOAL 4: Quality Education GOAL 5: Gender Equality PLANET GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production GOAL 13: Climate Action GOAL 14: Life Below Water GOAL 15: Life on Land PROSPERITY GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities PEACE GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions PARTNERSHIP GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal
Yes, there are. But they don’t exclude the non-specific ones because all the SDGs are linked by a common framework. Every business/project would have one main objective and one or several secondary which could also be structural or temporary. Several SDGs are considered primarily “environmental”: SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities, SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production, SDG 13 Climate Action, SDG 14 Life Below Water (oceans) and SDG 15 Life on Land (ecosystems). The most relevant for every business is SDG target 8.4 “Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation...”.