It seems only yesterday that the Business2030 project was greenlighted for funding and yet here we are, six exciting months of implementation later, eager to trace back the milestones of our journey so far.
Funded within the Erasmus+ Program, B2030 supports Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Business Services Organizations (BSOs) facing demanding challenges while helping them shape new sustainable development paths. The ultimate purpose, to be reached within the project’s 3-year lifetime, will be that of fostering the upskilling of both the staff and the organizations, providing them with the skills and tools needed for developing a greater sensitivity towards environmental sustainability.
Our first semester as project partners was focused on designing a Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) for companies willing to determine their own performance across major areas of sustainability, like environmental stewardship, labor and management practices, product responsibility etc.. The internal policies and practices were obviously taken into account in order not just where, in the ecological transition path, SMEs and BSOs are located, but also to determine which existing practices supported sustainability and where improvement was needed.
In order to make this tool as inclusive and efficient as possible, the partnership took some time to identify a set of guidelines for the research activities underlying the SAT. The purpose of the research was clear: to assess and analyze the current specific training needs of SMEs and BSOs; however, given the large variety of actors involved, ranging from businesses to professional educators to labor market institutions, and in order to provide learning and training services as thorough as possible, the methodological framework to do so had to be carefully assessed.
The research serving as a context analysis was split in two between a desk research feeding on a context and document analysis and a field research substantiated by questionnaires and interviews carried out with relevant stakeholders. The desk research primarily addressed the international educational and training opportunities existing in formal and non-formal settings, conducted by or in partnership with public bodies and potentially (or actually) easy to transfer to other contexts; the multifaceted universe of existing policies and regulatory frameworks on sustainability; the financial, co-funding and philanthropic opportunities; the relevant Open Education Resources at disposal; the existing self-assessment tools, to be used as sources of inspiration and comparison.
The field research was carried out through a survey addressing the environmental awareness of the targets and the good practices regarding economic and social sustainability in use. The questions also related to the sustainability and management practices, the use of digital and financial tools and opportunities, the companies’ awareness of the spillover effects of their own activities on energy and waste management and pollution; the companies’ strategies to communicate sustainability and to contribute in preserving biodiversity within the ecosystem; the compliance of the company policies to broader policy initiatives such as the EU Green Deal. Interviews were also carried out with the intent of deepening and expanding the answers collected during the survey, unearthing information and meanings that could not emerge from simple multiple-choice questions.
In both cases, the analysis led to interesting and often unpredictable results that will surely provide the cornerstones of the SAT in the next few months. The consortium is already at work on the finalization of a final report encompassing all the information gathered and thoroughly re-elaborated, while the Self-Assessment Tool’s contents are actually under development. After the summer break we will be ready to launch the testing phase, confident that once again we will be surprised by the outcomes.
Keep following us on our media in the coming months to stay updated on what we have in store!