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UNECE launches a compendium to support micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in their efforts to embrace circular economy models

UNECE launches a compendium to support micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in their efforts to embrace circular economy models


Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) account for over 90 per cent of registered enterprises in the UNECE region, spreading from North America to Central Asia. These enterprises hold immense potential to drive the transition towards a circular and green economy due to their agility and localized operations. However, they often face challenges such as limited access to finance, lack of technical knowledge, and regulatory and procedural barriers, which hinder their ability to fully leverage circular and sustainable practices.  

To support MSMEs’ efforts to embrace green and circular economy principles and engage in sustainable trade, UNECE developed a compendium of resource material, "Harnessing Opportunities from the Circular and Green Economy: Compendium of Guidance Resources for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Development". The Compendium offers guidance for enterprise owners, entrepreneurs as well as policy makers in the region and beyond. 

The Compendium explores the new landscape of economic development in the UNECE region and the transformative potential of the circular and green economy principles for MSMEs. It highlights the characteristics and key performance indicators of these enterprises, identifies the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, and in so doing, focusses especially on MSMEs in emerging economies (including developing countries and countries with economies in transition). The Compendium provides a comprehensive overview of relevant tools, including tools developed by UNECE’s normative machinery, available to policy makers and entrepreneurs.  

Member States emphasized the themes of “The Circular Economy and the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources” alongside the “Digital and Green Transformation” as indispensable for achieving sustainable development during the 69th and 70th Commission sessions in April 2021 and April 2023.   “The Compendium underscores this common endeavor, reflecting the collective aspirations of UNECE member States to foster a more sustainable and inclusive development pathway in the region” said Elisabeth Tuerk, Director, UNECE Economic Cooperation and Trade Division. 

The Compendium comprises: 

  • A discussion on how a green and circular economy can bolster MSME resurgence, detailing the characteristics and key performance indicators of MSMEs in the UNECE region. 

  • Insights on catalyzing innovation for MSME green and circular transitions, with focus on building a conducive environment for circular, green, and digital innovation. 

  • Suggestions for bolstering MSME engagement in sustainable trade and green export, identifying main trends and challenges in sustainable trade and green export. 

  • A collection of strategies, case studies, practical tools and reference material developed by UNECE and other development partners, tailored to help MSMEs transition towards a green and circular economy. 

Moving forward 

UNECE will strengthen its efforts to support MSMEs’ transition towards a circular and green economy in collaboration with development partners and relevant stakeholders. In the context of Circular STEP (the UNECE Stakeholder Engagement Platform), UNECE is organizing a regional policy dialogue on 18-19 October 2023 in Belgrade, Serbia to exchange experiences on best practices for promoting circularity. The regional dialogue will bring together circular economy focal points from UNECE programme countries across Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Western Balkans, and Eastern Europe.  

The regional policy dialogue aims at bridging the gap between countries that have made progress in circular economy practices and those where circularity is still at a nascent stage. The event will allow for sharing of experiences between participants, and with experts from key circular economy drivers, such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Sitra, Chatham House or the European Commission. The regional policy dialogue will also build on the studies published by UNECE, as well as the circular economy outcomes of UNECE’s normative machinery.  

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Information Unit

Tel.: +41 (0) 22 917 12 34

Email: [email protected]

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