Achieving sustainable growth in a low-carbon economy

Co-creating an evidence-based model of SME engagement

Prof Richard Blundel (Public Leadership and Social Enterprise, The Open University) and Dr Tina Fawcett (Environmental Change Institute, Oxford) are working to engage small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) with issues of climate change and environmental sustainability and their implications for the business world.

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) may not have the same environmental footprints as corporate businesses, but they have a key role to play in addressing climate change and other environmental issues. A recent European Commission study reports that SMEs are responsible for 64% of the overall environmental impact in the EU, including greenhouse gases; in the UK, SMEs are thought to be responsible for more than half of business energy use.

Dr Fawcett and Professor Blundel are established researchers with expertise in the fields of entrepreneurship, innovation, SME energy use, and environmental sustainability. They are leading a small team that is collaborating with communication specialists, Climate Outreach, Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Good Food Oxford and academic partners to produce new knowledge on environmentally sustainable growth in SMEs – engaging business owners, managers, and intermediaries through an online survey, informal discussions and two facilitated workshops. Drawing on the expertise of project partners, they are piloting a new engagement model and pinpointing the narrative approaches that can result in a more effective engagement with issues of environmental sustainability.  

With funding from Oxford's ESRC Impact Acceleration Award, the project seeks to generate fresh insights into environmental sustainability for business practitioners and policymakers and to make a practical contribution to the UK government’s efforts to meet its carbon emissions targets. SMEs will be able to learn and exchange ideas about how to reshape their business in a more sustainable way, while the team will apply their own learning from the workshops to further refine and develop the engagement model.

Key Project Activities

• Pre-workshop briefing document and survey of SME owners and managers.

• Two facilitated workshops with SME owners and managers.

• Targeted communications via a project web page, social media, short form video, media releases, seminars, and professional networks.

See the workshop participants discuss their experiences

Project Page

Growing green: SME perspectives on sustainable growth in a low carbon economy


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