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New collaborative action research - Québec Net Positif launches "SMEs in Transition" to reveal and co-create innovative approaches to navigate the transition to a low-carbon economy
[May 17, 2023]

New collaborative action research - Québec Net Positif launches "SMEs in Transition" to reveal and co-create innovative approaches to navigate the transition to a low-carbon economy

MONTREAL, May 17, 2023 /CNW/ - Quebec Net Positive, an independent not for profit think tank, today unveiled "SMEs in Transition", a new collaborative action research initiative for Quebec's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the manufacturing sector and the business ecosystem that supports them.

This initiative, conducted in collaboration with regional collaborators, practitioners, experts and academic researchers, will continue through January 2025 and aims to evaluate the relevance and impact of various engagement approaches to:

  • Strengthen the willingness and capacity of manufacturing SMEs to implement climate action;

  • Activate a business ecosystem conducive to accelerating the transition to a low-carbon and "net positive" economy.

As the transition to a low-carbon economy accelerates, manufacturing companies feel challenged but are slow to act. 87% of Quebec manufacturing companies believe it is urgent to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 81% agree that companies have a central role to play in reducing GHGs. Yet, 49% say they are not implementing any climate action in their operations, according to the results of the Business Transition Barometer - Manufacturing Sector, released by Québec Net Positif on April 27, 2023.

"Achieving carbon neutrality for Quebec and Canada by 2050 and the Quebec government's greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets of 37.5% by 2030, below 1990 level, will result in a profound transformation of the economic fabric of all regions of Quebec," said Anne-Josée Laquerre, Executive Director & Co-Founder of Quebec Net Positive. "It is vital for the Quebec economy as a whole that its 250,000 or so small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which employ more than 2 million workers, are aware of the risks and opportunities of this transition and engage in it successfully."

According to the Business Transition Barometer – Manufacturing Sector, manufacturing businesses actually perceive more benefits and opportunities related to climate action and the transition to a low-carbon economy than Quebec businesses overall (30% vs. 21%). They identify the main business opportunities as being the creation and offering of products, solutions and services that meet new needs and market expectations (60% vs. 42%), followed by strengthening the company's brand image and reputation (40% vs. 34%) and being positioned as a supplier of choice, preserving and consolidating business relationships with customers and major clients (40% vs. 26%).

3 PILLARS FOR COLLABORATIVE ACTION RESEARCH Funded by the Government of Canada, with the support of the Laurentian Bank, the "SMEs in Transition" initiative will allow participating SMEs and their ecosystems to establish new contacts, beyond their usual networks, to reveal and co-create innovative approaches to navigate the transition to a low-carbon economy. The initiative is structured in three pillars:

  • Regional and sectoral mobilization: Identify the appropriate means and key moments to promote the measurement of GHG emissions, establish reduction targets and trigger climate action, with our mobilization partners: ADDERE Service-conseil (Eastern Townships), Conseil régional de l'environnement de la Montérégie and Excellence industrielle Saint-Laurent (Montréal).

  • Communities of practice: Identify mechanisms to optimize the added value for leaders and participants in joining collective learning spaces on climate action and the transition, with our expert collaborators: Brav. and Projet Collectif.

  • Transition pathways, foresight, monitoring and business intelligence: To bring together leaders of manufacturing SMEs – and the ecosystem of those who accompany them – to create a place for exchange and reflection with the aim of increasing collective awareness of the needs and possibilities for change in their sector, develop a transformative vision that will help identify business opportunities and favourably orient short-term decisions towards a likely transition pathway, and be on the lookout for best practices in Quebec and beyond, with our expert collaborators: Ciblexpert, Chemins de transition and PHAR.

The project is also supported by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), and the Center for sustainable development (Maison du développement durable).

"In addition to our mapping of the low-carbon economy and the data from our Businesses Transition Barometers, the business intelligence and new knowledge that will emerge from "SMEs in Transition" will guide us collectively on the best ways to strengthen and activate a business ecosystem that is increasingly conducive to the transition of all SMEs," said Anne-Josée Laquerre, Executive Director & Co-Founder of Quebec Net Positive.


"SMEs in Transition" is one of sixteen new research projects announced by the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and the Net-Zero Advisory Body (NZAB) at Americana 2023, with total funding of nearly $10 million, supported by the Government of Canada's Environmental Damages Fund, through the Climate Action and Awareness Fund. These projects will address knowledge gaps and enable NZAB to continue its critical mission to help Canada achieve greenhouse gas (GHG) neutrality by 2050.

Quotes from the co-chairs of Canada's Net-Zero Advisory Body (NZAB)

"A robust base of evidence and forward-looking research is integral to drive Canada's progress towards net-zero by 2050. NZAB is proud of catalyzing this agenda for the Canadian net-zero research community."
- Dan Wicklum, NZAB Co-Chair

"These research projects will spark new conversations and insights on Canada's pathways to net-zero. The NZAB looks forward to learning from these research projects to inform our advice."
- Marie-Pierre Ippersiel, NZAB Co-Chair


" At Laurentian Bank, we put our customers first and are constantly committed to helping them "see beyond numbers". We integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects into our operations and have started to engage in constructive dialogue on ESG issues with our clients. We are proud to support this new collaborative action research initiated by Quebec Net Positive and to join a group of leaders committed to helping Quebec SMEs make a successful transition, implement climate actions and get ready to thrive in a low-carbon, more just and sustainable economy."
- Éric Provost, Executive Vice President, Business Services and President, Quebec Market, Laurentian Bank.

"We accompany more than a hundred SMEs each year in their transformation towards a greener economy and remain very aware that this effort presents major challenges for them. By joining forces in a concerted approach, we will increase our collective capacity to create a climate conducive to the transition of SMEs across Quebec."
- Jean-Pierre Gouin, Director General, ADDERE Service-conseil (Eastern Townships Region)

"The circular economy projects that we have been carrying out for several years: Symbiose agroalimentaire Montérégie and Vision circularité, have allowed us to create a network of partners from the economic milieu that includes public and private economic development organizations as well as businesses and sectoral groups. We welcome this initiative, which will allow us to share best practices with a growing number of SMEs."
- Andréanne Paris, Executive Director, Conseil régional de l'environnement de la Montérégie

"Companies are increasingly aware of the importance of integrating sustainability into their operations. In recent years, we have developed services to better inform, support manufacturing SMEs and encourage their sustainable transition: industrial ecology workshops and Eco-Networking between companies to integrate climate change, better manage energy, waste, promote the circular economy and other eco-responsible practices in the borough of Saint-Laurent. We applaud the vision developed by Québec Net Positif for this project, which can only have a positive impact on the Montréal region."
- Leesa Hodgson, Executive Director, Industrial Excellence Saint-Laurent (Montreal Region)

"We combine strategic intelligence, expert analysis and collective intelligence and are pleased to put our innovative technological tools, our curiosity and our ability to channel the collective intelligence of our large network to help SMEs transition to a prosperous and sustainable economy."
- Caroline Bouchard, Co-founder, Phar

"At Brav., through our work with SMEs to better prepare for the impacts of climate change and to help them develop a climate action plan, we have found that SMEs have a strong desire for action but often do not know where to start. For SMEs that are already advanced in their approach, they sometimes face new and complex challenges for which solutions have yet to be invented. We believe that exchange and collaboration with other companies that have common needs and interests, within a community of practice, can bring a lot. Together we are stronger!"
- Pascale Lagacé, Executive Director, Brav.

"We aim to achieve an ecoherent society where the economy is consistent with the ecology of the planet. This is certainly the most complex challenge humanity has faced to date. We are committed to co-creating new tools tailored to SMEs to help them navigate this complexity to achieve the societal system transformations that are needed while undermining the risks of transition."
- Yves Lusignan, President, Ciblexpert

"Projet collectif works to facilitate access to knowledge and foster exchanges between people and organizations that are creating a more equitable and ecological society. We are excited to collaborate with Québec Net Positif to support the documentation and dissemination of the knowledge that will emerge from "SMEs in Transition."
- Vincent Chapdelaine, Co-General Manager, Projet Collectif

"More than 1,000 scientists, professionals and citizens have contributed to defining the vision of desirable futures for the Quebec economy and society and developing "transition paths" that could lead us there. The Québec Net Positif project will provide us with opportunities to share the results of our work and provide content and formats adapted to the contexts and needs of SMEs."
- Mélanie McDonald, Executive Director, Chemins de Transition

"At BDC, we are fully aligned with the ultimate goal of this action research project proposed by Québec Net Positif. We believe that the B Corp movement, to which we belong, is already contributing to the realization of the vision put forward by Québec Net Positif. Indeed, the SME in Transition program aims to ensure that companies recognize the benefits of going beyond mitigating their negative impacts and realize their full potential to collectively generate net positive impacts on society and the environment. Together, we are encouraging more and more Quebec SMEs to imagine and implement transition trajectories that contribute to Canada's 2050 carbon neutrality goal."
- Craig Ryan, Director, Sustainability & ESG, BDC

For more information 
About SMEs in Transition and our collaborators: SME in transition | Quebec Net Positif

About Quebec Net Positive

Quebec Net Positive is an independent not for profit think tank whose purpose is to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon and "net positive" economy. Supported by the McConnell Foundation, its mission is to raise awareness, mobilize and equip businesses to seize new business opportunities, go beyond mitigating risks, and activate their full potential to create positive impacts on society and the environment. Home | Quebec Net Positif

SOURCE Québec Net Positif

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