Asia has experienced fast economic growth in the last years. This has been driven by increasing domestic consumption and global and intraregional trade. However, this growth remains largely founded on unsustainable consumption and production patterns that exacerbate inequality and environmental degradation, highly affect biodiversity and intensify the effects of climate change.
Environmental challenges in the region range from air, water and soil pollution, poor waste management, pressure on marine ecosystems, biodiversity loss and degradation of ecosystem and increasing demand for energy, minerals, metals, food, land and water. The recent COVID-19 crisis has shown the connection between human activities and the loss of biodiversity, leading to the spread of new diseases and viruses. The pandemic has also disrupted Global Value Chains (GVCs) on which most Asian economies have been built upon over the last decades. The slowdown of economies in Asia has turned into a slowdown in European economies and vice-versa. The collapse in production activity at the heart of many GVCs has caused socio-economic implications for both producers and consumers in countries further up and down the value chains in both continents.
Today the region is at a turning point to prevent its rapid industrialisation and urbanisation from irreversibly causing resource depletion and environmental degradation that will endanger its economic and social development in the long term. The COVID-19 recovery process represents both a challenge and an opportunity to build resilient societies and climate-neutral economies and to invest in more sustainable and greener future across Asia, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement for Climate Change and the EU’s environmental commitments as set out in the European Green Deal. To improve long-term public and planetary health, governments need to invest in a fair transition greening industrial practices and changing consumption behaviours.
Our Programme is making a difference!
The SWITCH-Asia Programme, launched in 2007, is part of the EU Flagship Initiative SWITCH to Green and of the Commission’s contribution to the achievement of the SDG12 on Responsible Consumption and Production in Asia. The Programme supports the transition of the region to a low-carbon, resource efficient and circular economy whilst promoting more sustainable supply chains and products between Asia and Europe. By funding pilot projects in Asia to test and promote innovative Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) practices within MSMEs and consumers, SWITCH-Asia works across a wide range of sectors: agri-food, textiles and leather, plastics and wastes, building and sustainable housing, tourism, logistic and freight, electronics, among others.
So far the Programme has invested ca. EUR 300M in the region funding ca. 130 projects. A new call for proposals has just been launched to seek for new innovative projects. Projects are expected to be implemented by consortia bringing together expertise from both Europe and Asia and be ideally composed by Micro-Small-and-Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs), retailers, chamber of commerce, industrial clusters or associations, national and regional clean production centres, farmers associations, universities, research centres, centres for technology transfer, I/NGOs, consumer organisations, development organisations, trade federations, labour organisations.
In line with the new priorities of the European Green Deal, proposals are expected to focus on one of these two priorities:
Priority 1: Sustainable Production
Support MSMEs in reducing the environmental impact of their industrial production by improving resource efficiency and adopting circular economy practices.
Priority 2: Sustainable Consumption
Engaging with consumers on sustainable consumption and production practices.
Funded projects are expected to develop and ensure adoption of SCP practices by MSMEs and consumers’ organisations across the region and to prepare viable and bankable business cases to be proposed to public/private investors for the replication of their successful practices. The evidence provided by projects will also feed into policy and regulatory discussions with national governments and regional organisations to support the green transition in the region. During the implementation, consortia will work closely with the EU Delegations in the region and the different Programme’s components to achieve their policy objectives.
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