24 Mar 2020

What the  EU’s SMART-project outcomes mean for the cycling industries

The aim of the EU-funded SMART-project, which ran from 2016 until 2020 under the leadership of Professor Beate Sjåfjell, is to secure the contribution of business and finance to sustainability. The introductory SMART-report, published after the final project conference in February, presents legislative and policy reform proposals aiming to support the transition to sustainability. The findings and proposals related to business and products are of particular interest to the cycling industries with regards to matching the sustainability of the entire supply chain to the sustainability of bicycles as transport modes.

The proposals are targeted at the EU Commission, and are of particular relevance in the context of the Green Deal. Proposals from influential projects often shape, to some extent, legislation and policy reforms at the EU-level, so it is important to stay on top of them. This allows us not only to respond to the proposals and potentially define our own, improved proposals, but also to see what strategies our industries can start implementing to be prepared for potential policy and legislation changes.

The SMART reform proposals are centered around (1) requiring value chain activities to be socially and economically sustainable, (2) facilitating sustainable consumption through improved information and (3) regulating financial markets in a way that promotes sustainable investment. In brief, the reform proposals include:

  • Clarifying and redefining the goal of companies to become sustainable value creation. This is key to ensure a shift to sustainable value chain activities, and is likely to require adjustments of business models and the development of sustainable-practices implementation.
  • Making sustainability reporting and auditing a legal requirement and ensuring it is much more stringent than it currently is.
  • Broadening regulatory reform to ensure that financial markets channel their investments and lending to sustainable business.
  • Broadening and strengthening the EU’s Circular Economy initiative. The EU has recently launched its Circular Economy Action Plan – for more information about implications for our sector, check our other newsletter article.
  • Facilitating sustainable consumption and decision-making for citizens.
  • Reinforcing sustainable public procurement at the EU-level

For more details on the legislative and policy aspects of these proposals, read the report here. In essence, for the cycling sector, these reforms translate to matching the sustainability of value chains to the sustainability of the bicycle itself. This goes for industries across the sector, regardless of whether they produce bicycles or not.

CIE is actively taking the lead on sustainability in the cycling sector, ensuring that we stay one step ahead. In collaboration with the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry (CONEBI), CIE hosted the first kick-off meeting of its CSR & Sustainability Expert Group last week. This Expert Group will tackle key issues and set the agenda on sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) currently faced by the industry, including consumer safety, supply chain compliance and Circular Economy (CE). If you are a member and wish to join the Sustainability Expert Group, contact our Policy Director, Lauha Fried at l.fried(at)cyclingindustries.com.

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