What is the role of SMEs in climate resilience and adaptation?

SMEs climate resilience

SMEs make up a sizable amount of our businesses globally: a whopping 90 percent. According to the Eurobarometer on small and medium enterprises, 89 percent of SMEs are working towards pushing the sustainability agenda, evolving into sustainable businesses.

These small businesses are the backbone of our economies and are forward-thinking innovators. They employ 50 percent of our global workforce. SMEs are often overlooked when it comes to finding solutions to the climate crisis.

However, they are very much connected to their local communities and economies and have a big impact as a result. Overlooking SMEs means overlooking local solutions that can help us build climate resilience and drive adaptation planning.

The role of SMEs in climate resilience and adaptation

SMEs can play a major role in greening and adapting to the climate crisis across economic sectors. Some of these sectors include tourism and energy, agriculture, and manufacturing. The involvement of small businesses is essential for several reasons. Firstly, we must consider the ambitious reductions we need to make concerning emissions. 

Due to the scale, we need businesses across the globe to act urgently. Moreover, climate change presents risks to businesses and not addressing the present environmental issues means not minimising these climate risks efficiently. Another critical point is that businesses that source ways to increase climate resilience and mitigate emissions ultimately future-proof their business plans and retain market access.

Not to mention, they achieve the climate expectations of their audience and improve their competitive edge. All of this makes them more successful and profitable as a result. At the same time, however, it is essential to acknowledge that SMEs have limitations due to their size. They face significant challenges in relation to making their operations more planet-friendly. Additionally, they often do not know where to start or lack confidence in greening their business.

How do we support SMEs to take action?

As mentioned, SMEs know they must address the climate crisis; however, they do not have the resources of larger corporations. They have so much potential, which is why we must work to support them. The UNDRR reports that SMEs bear roughly 75 percent of losses experienced by businesses because they lack business resilience. The reason being reducing disaster risk requires more money, and smaller businesses do not have access to it. 

We must help SMEs access financial support so they can build their resilience and adapt to climate change. Governments should integrate adaptation planning into their development planning too. This will help to ensure climate change is tackled across multiple different sectors. 

There should also be support for business development. SMEs have the ability to create services and products that meet customer demand, and this can too help them build climate resilience. It is vital SMEs are able to adapt to climate change and become more resilient, and often the barriers are a lack of financial instruments and resources. 


Most of the population in the developing world relies on small and medium-sized enterprises for their livelihoods. For this reason, it is vital that SMEs build climate resilience so they can adapt to the climate crisis. These businesses have the ability to create services and products that can strengthen the resilience of our populations too. 

However, we need to give them the support they need to do this. Smaller businesses do not have the same range of resources as larger corporations. In saying that, they do have huge potential and a drive to fight and look after their communities which matter to them most.

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