About the project

Relevance of the project

GreenChambers Erasmus+ project is a project aimed at providing Chambers of Commerce with higher capacity to assess their SME members in the development
of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategies. The priority addressed is the adaptation of the VET to labour market needs. The idea of the project arises from the shared concerned among the chambers involved in this project regarding the assessment that they provide to their members in the ESG field.
It is widely accepted that SMEs need immediate support to move to sustainable practices to become more competitive and resilient.

SMEs are aware of this need and know that a proper ESG strategy would help them increasing their performance, get certified, and better their image. Many have already engaged in a sustainability journey, but they struggle at the time of fulfilling this duty as they lack method, clear strategy and, above all, knowledge. Chambers face a growing demand from their members in this field. However, our needs analysis shows their lack of capacity to deliver assessment in ESG. Existing training is limited, often outsourced, and addresses specific needs such as resources efficiency, carbon footprint or circular principles, without the holistic business approach needed. Our project intends to fill the skill gap among Chambers’ staff to enable them to deliver proper training in the ESG field.

Relevance of the project

In GreenChambers, the Chambers’ staff will engage in a joint activities fostering the use of VET (vocational education and training) and collaboration among the actors in the local communities. Thus, the 2nd priority addressed by this project is contributing to innovation in VET. This project uses VET in a train the trainer dimension to answer a very specific need of Chambers to better their services, with an important impact, as it will better the ESG strategies of numbers of SMEs, thanks to the exploitation and networking. The method will promote practical learning, to encourage peer learning among staff and to develop concrete ESG strategies with direct application in SMEs, allowing learners to build on their own working experience, as they will be invited to apply the ESG to themselves as well.

As the main topic of GreenChambers is the development of ESG strategies, our third and main priority is the environment and fight against climate change.
To prepare for the challenges and opportunities of a greener economy and to support the goals of the EU Green Deal in creating growth and jobs, EU SMEs need advice and education in preparing for a low carbon economy and a changing financial and reporting environment, to build greater resilience and become more competitive. We will thus promote and accompany the SMEs transformation by offering them tailored resources on their journey toward more sustainable business practices, helping them to reduce their environmental impact, by optimising their use of resources thanks to the development and implementation of whole ESG strategies.

Motivation

With COVID pandemic, SMEs were strongly impacted by the shut down and paralysis of major areas of the economy in the industrial and services sectors. Trade disruption, mass unemployment, business closures and bankruptcies, a decline in tourism activities have affected all economies worldwide, and the European economy. Now that we are gradually returning to a more “normal” situation, we need to rethink our economic models, so that we can avoid future crises and be more resilient. The sustainable development goals of the United Nations offer a good framework to rethink our economic models, as does the European Green Deal. Those initiatives support growth and job creation under the scope of low carbon economies and environmental care, social justice, and reduced inequalities.

On the ground, these policies should be associated with a changing of mindsets, and this change has already begun. Thanks to this growing concern, consumers are more likely to hold companies accountable for not just their environment but also their social impact and will expect businesses to contribute positively.

To prepare for the challenges and opportunities of a greener economy, EU SMEs need to use the upcoming phase of recovery to operate drastic changes in their practices. To achieve this transformation, the Chambers of Commerce and Industry will have a key role of assessor and mentor that accompany the SMEs in this change.

Chambers need to get prepared themselves to operate a deep transformation on their assessment system and turn their traditional criteria of business success towards new evaluation systems. Chambers need to capacitate to deliver education and training in the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) fields as part of a holistic full business strategy that enables professionals from cross-sector SMEs to develop better sustainable practices.

Those are the main drivers of this proposal. As there is a gap observed in the ESG field, and a clear labour market need, GreenChambers wish to answer, with the proposal furtherly described, to the priority of adapting VET offer to training market needs while focusing on the Chamber needs to integrate the assessment in Sustainability and ESG among the services that they offer to their members.

Developing capacity in training in the ESG field requires external expertise and is a complex process, which can clearly be optimized thanks to collaboration among entities. Funding will be crucial to enable this cooperation among the different chambers and experts engaged. It will commit them in the project and gives them the means to achieve their objective with a high level of quality. Also, it has been previously exposed that this project is in line with several major priorities of the Erasmus+ programme. Thus, thanks to this action, GreenChambers partners will contribute to the achievement of these priorities.

The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.