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ERIA participates in the ADB South East Asia Development Symposium

18 March 2021

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Manila, 18 March 2021:  ERIA participated in a panel discussion of the South East Asia Development Symposium – Innovation through Collaboration – Planning for an Inclusive Post-COVID-19 Recovery on scaling-up SMEs sustainable consumption and production. Dr Giulia Ajmone Marsan, ERIA Director for Strategy and Partnership, participated in the panel and presented findings from the ERIA webinar series and report ‘ASEAN MSMEs in a COVID-19 World’.

The event was opened by Mr Micha Ramakers, Deputy Head of Unit and the Directorate General for International Partnership at the European Commission and by Ms Preety Bhandari, Director of the Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management Division of the Asian Development Bank.

Dr Ajmone Marsan highlighted the fact that ASEAN MSMEs are very small and predominantly in the category of micro-firms. These firms tend to lack access to finance, skills and networks in general, and in particular, for green and sustainable transitions. Especially very small firms find it difficult to reskill and upskill as employees often find it difficult to get training. Another issue is the lack of connection and eco-systemic approach. For example, at the governmental level, policies developed by ministries or agencies in charge of MSME support are sometimes not perfectly aligned with the ones developed by Ministries of Environment or in charge of promoting sustainable development. Lastly, she mentioned the importance of several actors in the entrepreneurship eco-system such as consumers and the business sector. Younger generations of ASEAN consumers, such as millennials and Generation Z consumers, are increasingly conscious and aware of environmental and sustainability issues and show their preferences when purchasing goods and services. Partnerships between larger firms and domestic ASEAN MSMEs have emerged during the pandemic, especially regarding digital skills development. Some of these partnerships can be replicated and enhanced with respect to green and sustainable development.

Other panelists included Oliver Greenfield, Convenor of the Green Economy Coalition; Mr Mirko Zurker, Head of SEED Asia; Mr Qazi Sabir, Project Manager of the EU-SWITCH-Asia Project, Pakistan; Mr Hugo Agostinho, Project Lead of the EU-SWITCH-Asia Project, Cambodia; Mr Guy Halpern, Policy Analyst at the Environment Director of the OECD.

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