Women at the helm of green entrepreneurship in the Mediterranean
Under the auspices of UNEP/MAP, the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention adopted in 2016 a Sustainable Consumption and Production Action Plan for the Mediterranean region.The UNEP/MAP’s Regional Activity Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP/RAC) provides support to Contracting Parties in its implementation, including through the Switchmed programme.
Switchmed is an initiative aiming to scale up social and eco-innovations in the Mediterranean through training to green business entrepreneurs and advocacy for a policy and regulatory framework conducive to innovation. The programme is implemented through a collaboration among UNEP/MAP – through SCP/RAC –, UNEP Economy Division and the EU (DG NEAR).
The SwitchMed Programme fosters women’s participation in economic life by promoting the creation of new business models and green jobs through the training and support of women entrepreneurs, the provision of services for women business development, networking activities and the facilitation of access to financing for women.
Women represent 38% of the Switchers, a community of inspiring green entrepreneurs and change makers in the Mediterranean region. In line with a methodology created by SCP/RAC, 21 women were among 48 green entrepreneurs selected to benefit from a cycle of mentoring and technical backstopping for the development of their businesses.
In Morocco, the SwitchMed Programme worked with women cooperatives located in the Oriental region of Morocco closely through the Association du Docteur Fatiha, as part of a pilot project implemented to prevent most common plastic marine litter in the Mediterranean Sea. While creating new jobs for many women, the association contributed to safeguard handcraft heritage and the environment by producing and testing different durable carrier bags.
The Switchers’s platform offered opportunities to women green entrepreneurs from around the Mediterranean to share their stories of change towards sustainable consumption and production.
- Lebanon - Bushra Harakeh started Zoap, a thriving manufacturer of recycled soaps; Aya Hoteit established CIVVIES an eco-friendly Lebanese clothing label, to address wasteful shopping habits.
- Morocco - Sofia Achargui founded Fingerprint, an innovative business that draws together sustainable fashion products.
- France - Camille Jaillant is the creative director of Olistic Label France, which makes high-end wedding and evening dresses with organic-certified textiles.
- Tunisia - Wahiba Ben Ali is the Marketing Director of ArtisaNature, an online sales platform for Tunisian products that are organic, fair trade, artisanal or handmade.
Women at the center of an eco-tourism circuit in Kneiss Islands in Tunisia
The Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMI) Twinning Programme implemented by the UNEP/MAP Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (SPA/RAC) supported the Association de Continuité des Générations (ACG), a non-governmental organization and a member of the UNEP/MAP Partners network, to set up an eco-tourism circuit in the Kneiss Islands, a marine protected area off the coast of Sfax, 300 km south of the capital Tunis.
The circuit was developed in consultation with local authorities and other stakeholders. It highlights the role of women in the sustainable harvesting of clam and showcases environment-friendly income-generating activities.
Attractions on the circuit include "Kib", a typical local construction built by women with support from the SPAMI Twinning Programme, and an area where women farmers from the region can exhibit and sell local products such as the “Khawala” grapes, olive oil, traditional "Tabouna" bread, and a range of handicraft products.
ACG played a key role in the empowerment of the women collectors as part of a project led by FAO. The NGO also worked with women on the preservation of marine biodiversity in the Kneiss Islands, and launched projects promoting the role of “rural women as an actor of sustainable development in their region" ; "enabling women to benefit from more equal agri-food value chains ", and supporting women entrepreneurs in the fishing sector in the Gargour area near the city of Sfax.