UNECE continues to help its member States to respond to COVID-19 crisis. As part of this work, Guidelines and Best Practices for Micro-, Small and Medium Enterprises in Delivering Energy-Efficient Products and in Providing Renewable Energy Equipment developed earlier are being customized for North Macedonia and Georgia. Online training workshops for each country were held on 17 February and 8 April 2021 respectively. The Guidelines and Best Practices that take into account specifics of each country are now available in English and national languages.
The study for North Macedonia concludes that companies need to increase the utilization of various funds, programmes and preferential loans, extend their partnership and networking in order to overcome the issues of supply and product placement, reorganize their schedule and capabilities (through training), increase their outreach towards customers in a safe manner, and, when possible, try to pivot towards products that are in high demand due to the changed working environment. The training workshop co-organized with UNDP North Macedonia also covered the "big picture" perspective on the impact of COVID-19 on MSMEs and its implications for investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, as well as the role of MSMEs in supporting the country’s green recovery and climate action commitments. UNDP’s Report on the Benefits of Circular Economy on Mitigation of GHGs Emission in the Waste Sector and the analysis supporting the country’s Enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions show an opportunity for a green recovery.
Implementing climate actions and introducing a circular economy model would not only lower GHG emissions but would also spur on low-carbon economic growth that could result in 10,589 new green jobs by 2030, at least 27% of which could be assigned to women by 2035. Energy efficiency activities, such as the retrofit of existing buildings and the construction of passive houses, are expected to be the dominant source of new green jobs, many of them in MSMEs.
The study for Georgia concludes that most MSMEs in the energy efficiency and renewable energy sector have been forced to adjust to the remote working conditions and social distancing. Although this reduced some operation costs for MSMEs, productivity also decreased. The report recommends a set of policy actions for the Government, among them: a clear guidance for companies on the available support from various sources; temporary tax breaks; provision of grants, soft loans, credit guarantees, and dedicated support programmes. Rather than subsidizing energy bills for households and food producers for a short period of time, the Government should promote investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy products and services, which will lead to energy savings in the long run. It should also review and adjust public procurement procedures and encourage procurement of energy efficiency and renewable energy products and services from local suppliers and manufacturers. The training workshop co-organized with the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia and UNDP Georgia also presented the results of the survey of Georgian business in the face of Covid-19 pandemic conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers Georgia.
There was an exchange of experience between North Macedonia and Georgia in both workshops, which was assessed as very useful by participants of both events.
UNECE will continue developing customized Guidelines and Best Practices for several more member States in the framework of the UN Development Account Project Global Initiative towards post-Covid-19 resurgence of the MSME sector. It will also update the regional Guidelines and Best Practices in view of the accumulated experience in countries of the UNECE region.