CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Support to Business Support Organisations
The Southern Neighbourhood region is greatly affected by many challenges linked to climate change and the green transition, including water scarcity, population growth and rapid urbanization, energy demand increase, and environmental challenges. The region warms 20% faster than the rest of the world and the impacts of climate change, such as water scarcity and desertification, are already affecting regional stability (e.g. in Jordan, Syria, and Palestine).
In addition, on a global level, natural resource supply to the private sector is threatened by increased competition for these resources, whose shortage of or high price volatility coupled with new environmental and climate challenges, indicate that “business as usual” is no longer advisable. Instead, there is now a need and an opportunity for building new greener and more dynamic business models as market pressure is becoming a key driver, along with enabling factors such as innovation, cooperation, control and incentive mechanisms.
However, despite the political interest and some important initiatives put in place in the region, the green transition on the southern shore of the Mediterranean is facing a number of challenges. There is a general lack of awareness of public authorities in charge of industry and in the business community itself on the economic and social implications, as well as the opportunities of the move to a resource-efficient low carbon economy.
Despite these challenges, the opportunities associated with the promotion of green policies, regulations and standards at policy (macro) level, awareness and skills at institutional (meso) level coupled with the adoption of sustainable consumption and production practices at enterprise (micro) levels have a clear link to supporting stabilisation of the region through sustainable and inclusive economic development.
The current call for proposals aims to support Business Support Organisations (BSOs) and other relevant associations related to private sector development in the field of green and circular economy. BSOs have a key role to play as ecosystem enablers bridging the gap between policy (macro) and SME (micro) levels. In particular they act as intermediaries, on the one hand towards policy makers through advocacy and by organising public private dialogues, on the other hand towards the SME business community for the promotion of eco innovation and green entrepreneurship. The call encourages regional exchanges on the green and circular economy, networking activities, partnerships with peer organisations/green economy actors in Europe, notably with organisations such as green economy incubators and cluster organisations in Europe to enhance the dissemination of EU green standards. It also promotes local partnerships between the public, private and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) communities through awareness campaigns on green skills (Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), enhancement of green economy literacy and how to best benefit from the green economy transition.
The current project is part of a larger regional programme on green economy. This latter will be composed of three components/projects: one policy component (macro level), the current component targeting Business Support Organisations-BSOs at meso level (this call for proposal) and a component supporting SMEs in their transition towards green and circular economy solutions (micro level). This programme will also contribute to the regional Team Europe Initiative “Jobs through Trade and Investment in the Southern Neighbourhood”, designed jointly with Member States and financial institutions.
Green economy is a priority of the European Union’s external action under the new circular economy action plan (CEAP) in March 2020. It is one of the main building blocks of the European Green Deal, Europe’s new agenda for sustainable growth and the EU’s transition to a circular economy in order to reduce pressure on natural resources and create sustainable growth and jobs. As also part of the European Green Deal, with the European Climate Law, the EU has set itself a binding target of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. The ‘Fit for 55’ package refers to the EU’s target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. The recent EU legislation also underlines the objective of harmonisation of EU standards in selected sectors. Indeed, the European Commission adopted on March 2022 a comprehensive package of interlinked initiatives to promote of sustainable products and consumer empowerment: the proposal for a Regulation on Eco-design for Sustainable Products, the proposal for a revision of the Construction Products Regulation, the proposal to Empower Consumers in the Green Transition, the Eco-design and Energy Labelling Working Plan 2022-2024 and the first EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles will bring a common approach to products in the EU, in line with the objectives of the European Green Deal and of the 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan. Also linked to this project, a Directive on corporate sustainability due diligence (CSDDD) is currently under discussion at EU level, to include green economy, social and governance concerns in value chains. Finally, sustainable finance is a key consideration.
This is a restricted call for proposals. In the first instance, only concept notes (Annex A.1 – Grant application form - Concept note) must be submitted for evaluation. Thereafter, lead applicants who have been pre-selected will be invited to submit a full application (Annex A.2 – Grant application form – Full application). After the evaluation of the full applications, an eligibility check will be performed for those which have been provisionally selected. Eligibility will be checked on the basis of the supporting documents requested by the contracting authority and the signed ‘declaration by the lead applicant’ sent together with the full application.