Sustainable Businesses Models


MedWaves supports and empowers stakeholders to take the pathway towards a sustainable future, grounded in eco-innovation and sustainable business models.

Lines of action

The current linear economic model of production and consumption is unsustainable. Negative impacts from a “take-make-use-dispose” model are evident everywhere we look: rising global temperatures, loss of biodiversity, water stress and increased waste and emissions. This destruction divides people and leads to greed and inequalities. Yet, we can change.

It is possible to change the world by changing the way the world does business. Tackling the environmental crisis requires a shift of economic models towards sustainable consumption and production (SCP) and low-carbon circular economies. MedWaves incubates the development of sustainable business models. Together, it is possible to address the collective environmental and social crisis and move onto the sustainable pathway.

In order to understand the power of business to positively affect social and environmental change, MedWaves established a definition of a sustainable business model, which was subsequently adopted by Contracting Parties during COP22 of the Barcelona Convention in December 2021. “A sustainable business provides commercial solutions which create ecological value and/or safeguard the environment (addressing environmental challenges and/or reducing environmental impacts) and are economically viable and socially empowering” (Decision IG.25/18 – Annex II).

Sustainable business models can transform ecological challenges into economic opportunities by creating environmental value. Sustainable business models utilise two main approaches to establish a circular business: eco-innovation and life-cycle thinking/eco-design.

Eco-innovation identifies new and alternative solutions to business-as-usual in order to reduce environmental impacts of production and consumption, simultaneously creating environmental value. For example, when a business improves production processes by increasing resource and energy efficiency, there is an opportunity to save money, reduce emissions and prevent pollution. Sustainable businesses can also innovate by developing different approaches to the same products and services that perform better environmentally, such as electric vehicles. Eco-innovation can also transform an entire value chain, such as the promotion services over products to radically shift consumerism. An example would be moving from car production towards mobility services solutions such as car sharing, e-scooters or bikes rental systems, etc.

Eco-design is another approach in sustainable business models. The design stage is extremely important, establishing 80% of gross environmental impact. The eco-design lens, aiming for a circular model, accounts for the entire lifecycle of a product or service, including: design; extraction and/or purchase of raw materials; production; packaging and distribution; sales and marketing, product use; and end of life management. During this assessment, eco-design optimises environmental performance by reducing material and energy input requirements, thereby increasing efficiency and potentially saving money.

MedWaves developed the Switchers Support Programme (SSP), a regional strategy in the Mediterranean promoting and enhancing sustainable business models. The SSP creates an enabling environment, supporting the ecosystem of relationships that empower entrepreneurs and businesses to become sustainable: the switchers. The SSP works closely with a diverse range of stakeholders, including entrepreneurs and businesses, Business Support Organisations (BSOs), trainers and mentors, financial actors and policy makers.

MedWaves offers core support services such as:

  • Development and provision of sustainable business online tools and platforms (The Switchers Toolbox).
  • Capacity development for BSOs, such as the Training of Trainers programmes on eco-innovation, eco-design and sustainable business development.
  • Promotion of partnerships among BSOs and other stakeholders.
  • Circular start-up incubation and acceleration programmes, including support services at ideation, early-stage and growth.
  • Networking opportunities among sustainable businesses, The Switchers Community.
  • Matchmaking between sustainable businesses and financial actors.
  • Development of financial strategies for sustainable businesses, The Switchers Fund.
  • Capacity building to support investments from financial institutions.
  • Promotion of open eco-innovation initiatives at national and regional levels, The Switchers Open Eco-innovation Platform.
  • Access to markets for sustainable products and services, The Switchers Products.
  • Capacity building for policy makers and promotion of policy instruments.

SSP responds to the “Set of Regional Measures to Support the Development of Green and Circular Businesses” that was approved by Contracting Parties during COP22 in December 2021 (Decision IG.25/18). Additionally, SSP offers support for other regional and global policies, such as: the EU Green Deal External Dimension; the New Agenda for the Mediterranean; the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development; UNEP/MAP – Barcelona Convention Mid-Term Strategy; the UfM’s 2030 GreenerMed Agenda; and the 2030 Agenda and several of its SDGs.

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