Environmental Incentives and Nordic SMEs

Impact on Performance and Competitiveness

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This report identifies and investigates environmental incentives available for small and medium-sized enterprises in the Nordic countries. These comprise grants and loans for environmental management, environmental technology, environmental employment and sectoral competitiveness, and energy efficiency and renewables. From a total of 15 currently or recently available schemes, seven incentives are selected and 23 beneficiaries interviewed to explore impacts on environmental performance and economic competitiveness. The survey allows the ranking of environmental impacts in order of significance, based on information provided by the SMEs. It also highlights economic effects and environmental learning, and it draws conclusions relating to the practical value of Nordic environmental incentives, administrative procedures, company experiences and future expectations.




Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play a significant role in Nordic economic development through creating employment, stimulating competition and developing new technologies and products. Nevertheless, these companies are often disadvantaged by internal and external constraints that prevent them from realising their full potential. Nordic governments acknowledge that environmental management forms one of these constraints, and accordingly its integration into working practices is supported by a range of public sector financial assistance schemes. However, to date there has been no exploration of the extent of this provision, nor is there any comparative knowledge of the impact that these “environmental incentives” have on the environmental performance or the economic competitiveness of Nordic SMEs.


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