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HomeWorldSmall Businesses Unprepared For Pandemic-sized Climate Shock ‘Every Decade’

Small Businesses Unprepared For Pandemic-sized Climate Shock ‘Every Decade’


Small businesses which make up more than half of
the global workforce were 2.5 times more likely to go under
than larger firms in the first months of COVID-19, the
International Trade
Centre
(ITC) said
on Wednesday, warning that the impact of climate change
could cause pandemic-scale disruption “every
decade”.

“The pandemic has shown that the
resilience of businesses matter”, said ITC Executive
Director Pamela
Coke-Hamilton
. “Going green is a survival imperative;
the longer firms take to act, the higher the costs
become.”

Adaptation gap

Although small
businesses account for more than 50 per cent of global
emissions, only 38 per cent invested in environmental
adaptation, compared to 60 per cent of large
firms.

“Developed countries have the financial means
to sustain their economies and protect the most vulnerable.
But most developing and least-developed countries are unable
to do the same,” Ms. Coke-Hamilton said.

She added
that if such resilience among micro and small businesses had
been necessary during the pandemic, “it will be even more
crucial in addressing climate change”, whose economic
disruption will be like “a COVID-19-size
pandemic happening every decade”.

Tough COVID-19
lessons

Presenting the agency’s latest report, SME
Competitiveness Outlook 2021: Empowering The Green
Recovery
, ITC Chief Economist Barbara Ramos insisted
that governments needed to understand the level of
vulnerability of small firms in the first year of the
pandemic.

“We need to learn from COVID in order to
increase the resilience of small firms… two out of three
micro and small firms were strongly affected by the
pandemic, and that’s compared to half of large firms,”
she said.

“We also know that one in four micro firms
were at risk of shutting down within three months and this
is compared to one in 10 large firms.”

This is
significant because companies that managed to withstand the
economic downturn caused by COVID-19 “were five times less
likely to fire employees during the crisis”, the ITC chief
economist said. “And if you add to that the fact that SMEs
employ a large share of the world’s population, their
resilience really does matter.”

Partnerships are
key

To help small businesses rebuild from the
pandemic and prepare for the climate crisis while becoming
more competitive, Ms. Coke-Hamilton maintained that they
will need the support of a network of private and public
partners to boost their means to withstand future
shocks.

To guide this process, ITC’s report provides
a 20-point Green Recovery Plan to help small businesses
become more competitive, resilient and
green.

“During the pandemic, the liquidity of banks
especially in the Caribbean was upwards of $9 billion, but
somehow they lacked the ability to attribute value to the
green transition process and what this will mean,” she
said, before urging governments to advocate with financial
institutions “to help them understand the long-term
strategy and the need to invest.”

According to ITC,
nearly 60 per cent of African companies that invested in
greening their enterprise said that this led to new,
higher-quality and more products. Access to new markets was
also a positive outcome of this investment, along with lower
costs.

© Scoop Media

 



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