Regional policy measures to support green and circular economy businesses

The SwitchMed Incubation Programme has helped green entrepreneurs like Jamma Abo El Hasan Jammah, who launched her start-up REWET to improve water efficiency for date palm irrigation in Palestine. (Photo credit: SwitchMed)

In SwitchMed, SCP/RAC is leading actions to support the creation and development of circular economy businesses in the Mediterranean. These businesses are acknowledged by the countries of the Barcelona Convention as key drivers for the Green and Blue Economy in the Mediterranean region.

While all businesses must adapt to their political, social and economic context and operate within regulatory and institutional constraints, green and circular economy businesses often face additional challenges such as establishing a secure foothold in the market, staying competitive with other businesses that do not internalize the costs of environmental and social responsibility, limited opportunities for building capacity on sustainable business practices, and access to financing.

Enhancing the enabling environment for green and circular businesses in the Mediterranean


One of SCP/RAC’s main action lines in SwitchMed is a process to formulate a set of regional measures to support the development of green and circular businesses and strengthen the demand for more sustainable products in the Mediterranean. It started at the end of 2019 with an official request from the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention (COP21) to prepare such proposal.


The regional measures are expected to promote harmonization of policies and approaches among regional actors, with the overarching aim of increasing the adoption of eco-innovation techniques among businesses, generating new green jobs, and strengthening the demand for more sustainable products.


Job creation, in particular, is of utmost importance in the southern Mediterranean countries with an abundant young population and high youth unemployment rates, especially for young women.


Together, this set of regional measures will contribute to a number of strategic objectives of the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development (MSSD) and the Regional Action Plan on Sustainable Consumption and Production in the Mediterranean (Regional SCP Action Plan), as well as UNEA-4 resolution nº1 on “Innovative pathways to achieve sustainable consumption and production” and nº4 on “Addressing environmental challenges through sustainable business practices”.


In order to prepare the proposal of Regional Measures to be adopted at COP22 of the Barcelona Convention at the end of 2021, an in-depth analysis of the current situation in the region was conducted as well as a wide consultation process.


Many of the Southern Mediterranean countries experience elevated unemployment rates, especially when looking at the latest rates for women. In 2018, the highest unemployment rates both for men and for women among the six ENP-South* countries for which data are available were recorded in Palestine (25.1 % for men and 51.2 % for women).

European Neighbourhood Policy countries - statistical overview (2019)

International Best Practice Factsheets on Policy Instruments

SCP/RAC has identified 10 best practices from around the world on policy measures that foster an enabling environment for green and circular businesses.

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Stakeholder-led consultation to identify measures to support green and circular economy businesses and strengthen demand for sustainable products

Stakeholders in Algeria discuss challenges facing green entrepreneurs at the SwitchMed Synergy Workshop organized in December 2017 in Algiers. (Photo credit: SwitchMed)

As a starting point for the stakeholder consultations, SCP/RAC has developed a set of preliminary regional policy recommendations. These are informed by the knowledge assets generated in the first phase of SwitchMed (available at the SwitchMed e-library), including findings and recommendations from National Policy Briefs, lessons from the national events and consultations conducted (e.g. Synergy Workshops, Switchers Meet Investors,…), and by the priorities of the National Action Plans for SCP. The preliminary measures are also based on the results of two key SCP/RAC studies: a baseline assessment on enabling environments for green and circular economy businesses in the Mediterranean; and a selection of best practices from around the world on policy measures that foster the creation and development of these businesses. These documents can be consulted by clicking in the banners “Regional stakeholder consultation” and “International Best Practice Factshseets on Policy Instruments” above.

The initiatives of the EU Circular Economy Package were likewise be considered. As a complement to these measures, SCP/RAC also articulated criteria for the definition of green and circular businesses in the Mediterranean, to build a common understanding of the attributes that distinguish these businesses from traditional enterprises.
The preliminary regional summary of policy recommendations was the basis of the virtual stakeholder consultation that was organized during 2020 and 2021. The consultation targeted a broad set of stakeholders in the region representing businesses, governments, consumers and other civil society groups, regional institutions, the financial sector and academia, amongst others. The outcome of this consultation fed into the priority regional measures that will support the development of green and circular economy businesses and strengthen demand for more sustainable products.

Adoption of measures by the governing bodies of UN Environment/Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP)
The results of the stakeholder consultation will form the basis of a proposal for a decision by the Barcelona Convention Secretariat on regional measures to (i) acknowledge and to support the development of green and circular businesses and (ii) to strengthen the demand for sustainable products and services provided by those green and circular businesses. The criteria for the definition of criteria for green and circular businesses will also appear in the proposal.
The approval of the decision by the countries at COP22 in December 2021 is expected to promote a common understanding of the definition of criteria for circular and green economy businesses and facilitate the formulation of measures to support the development of these businesses at the national level.