ECOMARK - turning environmental challenges into opportunities
The ECOMARK project was established to raise environmental awareness among SMEs in industrial areas without impacting negatively on their entrepreneurial goals, thus empowering them to turn environmental challenges into opportunities.
Projects such as this are helping the EU to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020, as set out in the EU 2020 growth strategy. The EU is facing some tough challenges, including an ageing population, an insufficiently qualified workforce, the need for greater innovation, striking a balance between economic growth and environmental degradation, and ensuring secure, clean energy supplies. Regional policy projects across the EU are playing an active role in dealing with these and many other challenges, by undertaking projects designed to generate employment, raise educational achievement, develop renewable energy sources, boost productivity and give all citizens access to opportunities. The projects and the regions play a pivotal role in this, as they generate real results that contribute to achieving the strategy’s key goals.
SMEs undoubtedly play an essential role in the economic structures of many countries, and are actually the backbone of some. In accordance with the UNEP 'Global Green New Deal' and the Small Business Act for Europe, ECOMARK encourages SMEs to apply the Green Marketing principle to industrial areas and take concrete actions that consider environment and profit as equally important.
Converting to sustainability
ECOMARK gives equal priority to the dual aims of stimulating SMEs and safeguarding the environment. The main goals of the project, which is implemented in regions in Italy, Greece, France, Slovenia and Spain, are to plan innovative services for SMEs such as environmental and energy analysis; to develop strategic Green Marketing Plans (GMP) for the industrial areas and finally, to test and monitor the innovative services and the GMP in all the partners’ countries.
On a concrete level, SMEs will be encouraged to either settle in eco-industrial parks or to convert to ‘sustainability’ in an existing industrial area. ECOMARK will support them in this by developing innovative services for SMEs regarding logistics, energy efficiency and third party financing among other things.
ECOMARK will also develop a Green Marketing Plan and a dissemination strategy for the industrial area, using the ECOMARK brand. Although the project is taking place in six regions across five countries, it will not be a simple ‘one size fits all’ solution. Instead, the project team will experiment and monitor progress in each participating region to find the best arrangement for each.
Strengthening innovation and efficiency
Apart from strengthening innovation capacities of the SMEs in the field of environment, the project will ensure that resources are efficiently used and end-products have as little impact on the environment as possible. By focusing on environmentally friendly energy technologies and sustainable logistics and improving efficient productive processes, the CO2 emissions of the SMEs and the industrial areas will be reduced.
These outcomes will not only have a positive impact on the environment and on the efficiency of the SMEs, they will also contribute to decreasing the negative public perception of industrial settlements.