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Scale up policy links: Co-create inclusive business in response to policy challenges

Let´s simulate links between policy goals (social and environmental needs) and market solutions (business opportunities)


How can we attract private sector development aligned to environmental challenges?

Hosted by Minka-dev in collaboration with Plan Bleu, UNEP GRID, GWP MED, UNEP/MAP & SCP/RAC

According to the MedPartnerhsip project in process of finalisation, Kerkennah island in Tunisia has many environmental challenges, ranging from over fishing, salinization of agricultural land, loss of sand from minded land to waste management. Business solutions can be explored in response to selected social-environmental needs, which represent an opportunity for both sides (sustainable social-environmental development and business) prioritised by the stakeholder interest including policy makers and local agencies.

This situation is similar in other Mediterranean countries where environmental challenges can become business opportunities to attract private sector development aligned to environmental public policy challenges / goals.

Minka-dev aimed to linking the SwitchMed policy component to concrete actions to attract private sector development aligned to environmental challenges.

What did we aim at?

Our objective is to simulate links between policy goals (social and environmental needs) and market solutions (business opportunities). Minka-dev’s approach allows to create these links by attracting and structuring inclusive business aligned to public policy goals. The simulation to be done during the SwitchMed Connect will be the base for a co-creation project in 2016. This project will be connected to the SwitchMed policy and green entrepreneurship activities. This simulation process will set the bases for opening more green, inclusive business opportunities in the Mediterranean region through minka-dev’s marketplace.

Other specific objectives are:

  1. Promote and positioning this type of opportunities in the Mediterranean Region
  2. Attract private sector development align to green growth priorities from the public sector
  3. Articulate potential interested companies in the business opportunities identified.
  4.  Promote the development of public policy that supports this type of green business. And align private sector development to green growth and environmental protection.
  5. Show Governmental organizations and other stakeholders the potential to carry on the whole process in minka-dev, opening and attracting green and inclusive business 


Linking environmental challenges in the Mediterranean with sustainable business

The group work was introduced by Juliana Mutis from minka-dev. Her proposal to the participants was to simulate during the workshop what minka-dev marketplace can do, going from a need to create an opportunity. She gave an instruction to the participants:

Write about an environmental challenge in the Mediterranean region you are most concerned about and then write about how we could solve it with a sustainable business. Nine environmental challenges came out of the pool of participants:

  1. How to address the pollution generated from electrical appliances?
  2. How to make a proper recycling?
  3. Water scarcity: reuse of treated waste water
  4. Generation of electricity and management of solid waste
  5. Hazardous waste challenge
  6. How to reverse climate change and keep the 2ºC limit?
  7. Sustainable generation of electricity and management of solid waste
  8. Pollution in city related to city transport: sustainable city transport
  9. How to use water from the oceans with a low cost?


Participants were invited to take on one of these challenges with the person that came up with it and try to answer to the following topics:

-       Market interest for the business out of the challenge

-       Economic activities related to this business

-       How to make it a reality?

-       What role can you play?




For the E-waste project, the group analyses the market possibilities focusing on phones. Possibilities of refurbishing the phones, separating the materials in the appliances and reusing them, and finally redesigning the way we do cell phones were explored.

The ideas on energy generation and solid waste were grouped and participants came up with an integrated project to create energy from waste. The plant’s objective can help reduce the cost of reusing waste and reduce the cost of electricity. Needs were identified for the project related to legislation, best technologies and investment.

In the water scarcity challenge, the group designed an integrated water system for a building, harvesting rain water and using grey water for irrigation among other features. The group even thought of widening the scope of their system to management of waste created in the building and renewable energy supply.

However for such a system to work, it was assessed that there was a need for policy changes, building codes, awareness raising, capacity building and investment. The role of the organisations in the room could be assisting with policy-makers, connecting with the relevant actors and transferring capacity.

About urban mobility, many solutions were evoked such as car-sharing, electric car, bikes, but also finding measures to reduce the frequency of trips such as teleworking. These measures need the involvement of the city and region, awareness raising, the development of financial incentives, but also action plans at local level. Innovation and ICTs might also play a crucial role to achieve sustainable mobility in cities. 




“I really appreciated the setting of the whole conference, especially a few workshops that were very interactive. We managed to have good insights from people really working on the ground. There were nice methods of open space like this one or more proactive world cafés. About this particular session, people were invited to a simulation and it worked quite well. We could grasp the general idea of how to create a business opportunity out of an environmental challenge and I am excited to see the results.?  
Cecile Marsille, consultant 


On climate change, the group found many business opportunities, as the climate change challenge could be tackled many different ways. In particular, business opportunities related to agriculture, deforestation, resource and energy efficiency were explored. The common challenges to achieve such business ideas link to the need for public policy, cooperation with companies through PPP and CSR policies. The group saw its main role as facilitators, advisors and ambassadors of this change.

The desalinisation business case relied on reverse osmosis to provide water for sanitation and for drinking purposes. The water considered for this project could come either from the sea or from aquifer. The particular opportunity of creating water for agricultural purposes was considered, as this industry tolerates water with higher salinity rates then drinking water for instance. 



What did we learn?

During the work group session, experts navigated between groups to collect insights from the discussion that were taking place.

They saw as common challenges identified by all 7 groups:

-       the need for increasing efficiency for the projects to be profitable and to add value to the market;

-       the need for local solutions developed for the local markets;

-       the need to access new technologies and to support R&D;

-       the need for private/public cooperation and for consortiums acting as champions to promote these solutions;

-        and the need to work on and with  the civil society along with the public and private sector.

Juliana Mutis was happy to see that there was big potential to develop businesses in the room, and concluded the session explaining that this simulation shows what minka-dev does in its open market place. The open marketplace identifies needs that can be connected to the market and develop business opportunities to answer these needs. The purpose is to bring the environmental issues we have and align them with business.  

Let's continue the discussion

You can join and contribute the discussion on scale up policy links continuing in the session community here. In that community we encourage you to post your own reflections, experiences and questions. Keep engaging and shaping the content of SwitchMed Connect 2016.