Small businesses can become more efficient with their resources with the new Green Performance Toolkit (GPT) developed by the International Trade Centre (ITC).
The UN small business agency launched the tool at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), the global climate talks, to enable small businesses around the world to use data to establish baselines, benchmarks and improvement targets, empowering them to make informed business decisions, produce environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) reports, and prepare for standards compliance.
Businesses of all sizes, including cooperatives, can access the Toolkit for free.
The Toolkit can be used by small businesses in the apparel/textiles and agro-processing sectors to assess and monitor environmental performance across eight key areas: Environmental Management System, Energy, Water, Waste, Wastewater, Air Emissions, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Chemicals/Soil.
Assessing resource efficiency
Small business owners working in textiles looking to improve resource efficiency but unsure where to begin can use the Toolkit as a starting point. Through a rapid assessment and/or a quantitative assessment, small business owners can identify areas of improvement and receive a report with specific, actionable recommendations to increase efficiency and reduce resource consumption. For example, a report may find that a printing machine, though using less energy than other machines, still consumes more energy than it should. The toolkit provides tips to improve the machine’s efficiency.
Apart from assessments, the Green Performance Toolkit provides access to learning resources to help small businesses adopt best practices to achieve resource efficiency reduction targets and integrate sustainable practices into operations.
Using data to improve green performance
ITC through its coaching programme on resource efficiency, involving over 250 small businesses in 15 countries, found that data collection is a key challenge for companies working to improve their environmental sustainability.
The Green Performance Toolkit was designed with small businesses, for small businesses, in particular those in developing countries, so they can access reliable data to tap new market opportunities and growth. Pilots were carried out in ITC’s projects in Bangladesh, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya and Saint Lucia.
Stakeholders in business support ecosystems, such as government agencies, business support organizations, associations and financial institutions can benefit from using the Toolkit as part of programmes and initiatives to support small businesses in adopting green business practices.
Supporting small businesses to take climate action
By enhancing their environmental performance, companies not only take climate action but also strengthen their competitiveness, resilience and sustainability in the long run.
Resource efficiency is a key component of climate change mitigation, which entails reducing emissions, optimizing resource use and management, conserving natural resources, promoting circularity, enhancing resilience, and fostering economic sustainability.
ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton said: ‘Solutions for small businesses need to be developed with small businesses – and this Green Performance Toolkit is just that. It is a practical tool for small businesses in developing countries to use to improve their resource efficiency and work towards achieving low-carbon operations, doing their part to take climate action.”
Hossam Farran, CEO of BG Group in Egypt, said: ‘The Green Performance Toolkit is an easy-to-use tool for tracking environment-related goals. It has helped us assess our current situation with simple questions, and we use the results as a baseline for future years to measure our performance.’
Fareed Abdul Ghani, CEO of Mindsight Consulting in Malaysia said: ‘The tool fills the gap in my training especially in helping SMEs to do quantitative and qualitative assessments. SMEs I have trained on the tool were very engaged and will use it to prepare for ESG reporting and upcoming regulatory compliance.’
Notes for the Editor
About Green Performance Toolkit – The Green Performance Toolkit is developed by the ITC’s Trade and Environment Programme with financing from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The tool is available in four languages: English, Spanish, French and Arabic.
About the International Trade Centre – The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.