Youth Entrepreneurship for the Blue and Green Economies

Simon White | This article explores the role of youth entrepreneurship in green and blue growth.

Youth Entrepreneurship for the Blue and Green Economies

New opportunities for youth entrepreneurship

Young people around the world can play an instrumental role in creating the change required to ignite innovations that lead to sustainable development outcomes. This leads to opportunities for youth entrepreneurship in the blue and green economies.

Youth entrepreneurship may contribute to the social, economic, and environmental innovation required to drive sustainable development at local, national, and global levels. This requires young people to be brought into the policy-making process as legitimate and significant stakeholders.

Green growth is based on the understanding that as long as economic growth remains a predominant goal, a decoupling of economic growth from resource use and adverse environmental impacts is required.

Within the discussions around sustainable development and the green economy, more attention is being given to the blue economy and blue entrepreneurship.

The concept of a blue economy emerged during the 2012 Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and was expounded at the Third International Conference on Small lsland Developing States (SlDS). lt recognizes the need to maximize the enormous economic potential of the world’s oceans and the need to preserve this important natural resource: ‘A sustainable ocean economy emerges when economic activity is in balance with the long-term capacity of ocean ecosystems to support this activity and remain resilient and healthy.’

The Commonwealth Secretariat has called for fundamental changes to the way the world’s oceans, seas, and coastal areas are managed, recommending countries ’embrace new marine-based sectors such as aquaculture, biotechnology, and ocean-based renewable energy while urging governments to improve the way they operate to ensure the survival of global fishing, maritime transport, and coastal tourism.

The 2017 UN Oceans Conference in New York highlighted the increasing economic benefits to small-scale artisanal fishers. Maximizing these opportunities from an ocean-based economy will require a multi-stakeholder approach, with tourism, environment, fisheries, transport and trade, finance, and other ministries working together to promote sustainable development and economic growth.

I was commissioned by the Commonwealth Secretariat to write a Policy Brief on Youth Entrepreneurship for the Blue and Green Economies. This brief provides a guide to better understanding the challenges for youth entrepreneurship in the blue and green economies. It presents case studies and distills lessons from recent initiatives around the world.

The Policy Brief offers a range of practical considerations to improve the role of public policy in promoting an integrated response to the opportunities and challenges facing young people, the economy, and the environment.

What follows is a summary of the key policy messages, actions and approaches, followed by practical steps for action.

Key Policy Messages, Actions, and Approaches

Formulating national youth entrepreneurship strategy

Create a national policy framework to transform the economy and enhance the role of entrepreneurship. Establish the policy settings for economic transformation and encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, with specific reference to supporting the role of young entrepreneurs.

Identify the national priorities. Identify the priorities associated with transforming the national industrial base towards more sustainable, non-carbon-based systems of production and determine the specific challenges facing young entrepreneurs.

Identify youth entrepreneurship opportunities and challenges. Focus policy efforts on the enormous range of opportunities for young, emerging entrepreneurs in the green and blue economies. Ensure youth entrepreneurship strategies contain a chapter specifically dedicated to green and blue growth.

Design an integrated national policy framework for youth entrepreneurship in the green and blue economies. Create a clear framework for government and the private sector to work together across many portfolios and sectors, ensuring that global and national environmental challenges are clearly articulated.

Improve the ecosystem for youth enterprise and sustainability. Map the current status of youth entrepreneurship and address any gaps or weaknesses in the support provided to youth enterprises.

Identify youth cohorts and define strategies to achieve specific goals and priorities. Strengthen the connections between green and blue industry development and youth entrepreneurship, specifying clear target groups or cohorts of young people and their capacity to contribute to economic, social and environmental goals.

Ensure alignment within and across key policy domains and create policy synergies. Align policies for economic and social development, green and blue growth, private sector development and entrepreneurship, and youth entrepreneurship.

Designate a lead institution. Provide strategic oversight and coordination across government and promote co-operation among all relevant public, private, and community actors.

Optimizing the regulatory environment

Consider the impact of the business environment on innovation and entrepreneurship. Ensure that poor policy, laws and regulations do not stifle entrepreneurship and innovation.

Identify sustainability priorities for legal and regulatory reform. Assess the business environment within the green and blue sectors.

Regulate for market transformation towards sustainability. Level the playing field for greener and bluer products, phase out antiquated subsidies and stimulate new sustainable markets.

Minimize regulatory hurdles for youth entrepreneurship. Assess the legal and regulatory barriers young entrepreneurs face, including those experienced by young businesswomen.

Regulate for transformation. Identify and remove regulations and incentives that allow the overexploitation of natural resources and undermine the transition to sustainable development.

Establish inclusive public-private dialogue on regulatory costs and benefits. Policy-makers and regulators can learn from the experiences of businessmen people who are working in new green and blue markets.

Balance regulation and standards with sustainable development objectives. Work with the private sector to communicate regulations and help firms identify⠏ acquire and assimilate the technologies needed to meet them.

Build entrepreneurs’ confidence in the regulatory environment for green and blue markets. Improve policy and regulatory transparency, accountability, impartiality and predictability.

Introduce good regulatory practices and standards. Systematically review regulations to determine their suitability for achieving green growth objectives, reducing regulatory risks and creating incentives for more sustainable business practices.

Facilitate and support voluntary standards. Work with industry to reduce environmental impacts and improve energy efficiencies through voluntary sustainability standards, ecolabelling and traceability systems.

Enhancing sustainable entrepreneurship education and skills development

Build the capacity of young entrepreneurs to succeed in green and blue markets. Support the development of entrepreneurial skills, attitudes and experience through education and training.

Link education and training to green and blue growth strategies. Ensure young women and men develop the skills and experience for entrepreneurship in the green and blue economies.

Develop sustainable entrepreneurship curricula. Ensure trainers and teachers of entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurship programmes have practical knowledge and experience of entrepreneurship and deliver training in an experiential manner.

Embed entrepreneurship in the education systems. Give students at all levels the opportunity to learn about and experience entrepreneurship for sustainable development.

Create partnerships between education and training providers and the private sector. Increase the opportunities for collaboration between the education system and industry.

Facilitating technology exchange and innovation

Nurture innovation and the development of new technologies. Encourage young entrepreneurs to become more competitive through new technology.

Promote the development of green and blue technologies by and for young people. Support young people’s involvement in the technology innovation value chain.

Create innovation ecosystems for technology development for green and blue growth. Provide a conducive environment for young people to access technology and participate in innovation processes.

Promote innovation through local and indigenous knowledge systems. Work with local civil society, businesses and grassroots organizations to identify, share and build on local knowledge and experience.

Improving access to finance

Provide access to finance to enable young people to innovate. Young women and men engaged in enterprise start-ups often face significant hurdles obtaining the finance they require, more so than older people, who are more likely to have a financial history or assets to draw on.

Improve access to relevant financial services for green and blue enterprises. Innovative financing is needed to direct investments into those economic activities that can enhance green and blue growth (e.g., green finance, sustainability bonds, green bonds, social impact investments).

Promote financial inclusion for young people. Consider the institutional mechanisms through which young people are excluded from full participation in formal financial systems.

Direct public investments towards sustainable development. Support projects that encourage innovation and the transformation of the economy and which contribute to the protection of the environment.

Create incentives for private investments into green and blue growth. Strategically target public finance to attract private capital into green investment through measures such as guarantees, insurance products and incentives, combined with the right policy support.

Create market-oriented funds for youth-owned green and blue enterprises. New funding mechanisms to increase the access young people have to business finance in the green and blue economies.

Support market-based transactions for financing green and blue growth. Create opportunities in national and global value chains and the emergence of new, carbon-based transactions.

Public-private partnership funding schemes for blue and green enterprises. Draw on public and private expertise to scale up investment for green and blue growth.

Promoting awareness and networking

Raise awareness about entrepreneurship opportunities for young people in the green and blue economies. Draw attention to projects that provide a tangible and motivational boost to young green and blue entrepreneurs.

Integrate with educational programmes. Education and skills development provide the opportunity for awareness-raising among young people.

Strengthen networks of green and blue entrepreneurs. To support nascent young entrepreneurs and encourage the creation of new business models, products, services and practices.

Support youth networks. Policymakers and programme managers should deepen their engagement with existing youth networks and ensure these are closely aligned with all efforts aimed at promoting youth entrepreneurship in the green and blue economies.

Promote young role models. They can have a profound influence on the career decisions of young men and women and may enhance the desire to become an entrepreneur and contribute to the development of their business.

Support mentoring networks. Connect young entrepreneurs with experienced businesspeople who can provide practical advice, support and encouragement.

Implementation Steps

Formulate a national youth entrepreneurship strategy

  • Analyze the national policy framework for transforming the national economy and promoting green and blue growth.
  • Recognize the role of young people and youth entrepreneurship in the national policy framework.
  • Integrate youth entrepreneurship in the green and blue economic development strategies.
  • Ensure there is a lead agency for promoting youth entrepreneurship in the green and blue economies.
  • Identify policy synergies between youth entrepreneurship, industry transformation and sustainable development.
  • Assess the ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • Define a clear pathway for specific cohorts of young people to become entrepreneurs in the green and blue economies.
  • Define clear, gender-inclusive measurement indicators for tracking progress.

Optimise the regulatory environment

  • Assess the business environment for green and blue growth and identify priorities for reform.
  • Create incentives to encourage the transformation of the economy from ‘brown growth’ to green and blue growth.
  • Involve young women and men in the dialogue on legal and regulatory reform.
  • Identify any specific barriers to youth businesses in the green and blue economies.

Enhance sustainable entrepreneurship through education and skills development

  • Assess the educational system’s ability to help young people understand that viable business options exist in the green and eco-business sector.
  • Ensure the national education and training system is aligned with industry development needs in the green and blue economies.
  • Ensure green and blue issues are incorporated into business management training and advisory services.
  • Create partnerships between education and training providers and employers in the green and blue economies.
  • Create opportunities for lifelong learning that are integrated into curricula and training programmes.

Facilitate technology exchange and innovation

  • Determine whether or not technology development programmes aimed at diffusing sustainable production practices are in place.
  • Ensure new technologies are introduced to improve the efficiency, productivity and sustainability of new enterprises.
  • Establish programmes and facilities to support young people’s involvement in innovation processes.
  • Facilitate the creation of networks of youth-owned businesses involved in innovation.
  • Provide support services for innovation in the green and blue economies.
  • Identify and enhance local and indigenous knowledge systems to promote innovative solutions for blue and green growth.

Improve access to finance

  • Identify the specific problems young women and men face when attempting to access finance for their business ventures.
  • Investigate the feasibility of specific financing facilities that can be created to help young entrepreneurs access the finance and investments they require for green and blue enterprises.
  • Design financial inclusion programmes that address the problems experienced by young entrepreneurs.
  • Facilitate the creation of market mechanisms for financing green and blue enterprises that have been established.
  • Work with commercial finance providers to identify new ways of financing youth-owned green and blue enterprises.
  • Promote financial literacy among young entrepreneurs and services to improve financial management in green and blue enterprises.

Promote awareness and networking

  • Create a national campaign to improve awareness among young people of the opportunities for entrepreneurship in the green and blue economies.
  • Support the development of networks of young people interested and involved in green and blue economy ventures.
  • Publicly promote success stories that recognize and celebrate youth achievements in the blue and green economies- including young entrepreneurial role models.
  • Foster mentoring networks that connect young entrepreneurs with experienced business managers and entrepreneurs.