21 Sep 2021

Switchers are also successful nature-based solution examples

The IUCN Conservation Congress was held in Marseille, France 2021, from the 3rd of September till the 11Th, during which key speakers from different backgrounds got the opportunity to present their plans, and generate new ideas and partnership aiming to unify and commit to build an environmental knowledge and to enhance sustainability in all sectors.

Thanks to their relevance to the event goal, Stefanos Kamperis manager of Staramaki SCE, and Hussam Hawwa manager of Difaf were presented as successful green entrepreneurs in action at the Mediterranean Solutions Stand of the Congress.

Greek Switcher Stefanos Kamperis is managing Staramaki SCE, a social cooperative enterprise that since 2019 produces a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic straws by using the by-product of local wheat cultivations. Staramaki SCE not only addresses the major problem of marine pollution from single-use plastic items through an innovative circular business model, but also creates employment opportunities for vulnerable population and refugees in a depopulated and depressed rural region of Greece, while promoting social cohesion, local and regional development.

Staramaki SCE is a Nature-based Solutions (NbS) creating economic value. And yet, it has a hard time competing with cheaper, non-environmental alternatives on the market and accessing much needed financial capital.

“We know how to get there .. we are already on our way. What we need is financial support.”

In the other hand, Lebanese Switcher manager of Difaf  highlighted that to ensure their reliability for human societies, circular systems must be resilient and be able to function during unexpected events (such as a global pandemic) or when conventional dependencies on external support seizes to exist.

With focus on NbS, Difaf delivers scalable environmental solutions that can help you improve freshwater resource conservation (rivers, lakes, groundwater) and management (rainwater harvesting, water-retention landscaping), treat, monitor and re-use your wastewater, minimize your water footprint (water-wise irrigation, household water-use), and decrease your environmental impact through waste-to-energy projects.

According to Hussam Hawwa, circular economy must connect environmental cycles, such as the water and carbon cycle, to the economic circle to bring factual values to the environment.

Hussam is convinced that agriculture has the potential to become the first economic sector to achieve net negative emissions by using renewable energy to manufacture inputs and power agricultural operations, using bio products as fertilizers, soil carbon sequestration and increased nutrient and water use efficiency.

As an example, Difaf has a strong expertise in valorisation, reusing and recovering products and inputs from dairy effluents, where in the end they produce animal feeds, sports and infant nutrition, bakery products, as well as cosmetics products.

Difaf’s intervention concluded with the importance of the variability and potentiality of Lebanese green ecosystem of donors and incubating organizations along with initiatives of entrepreneurs in implementing and practicing circularity.

Despite being considered at the core of a nature-based recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, NbS are far from being addressed by major financing services providers. Bruno Oberle, IUCN Director General, called for investments that do not worsen the biodiversity crisis and that earmark at least 10% to benefit nature directly. Rémy Rioux, Chief Executive Officer of the French Development Agency, said training in nature-based solutions can enable financial actors to scale up nature-positive financial resources.

While IUCN Director General and our Switchers helped raise the issue of financial viability of NbS, we hope that their voices, will be soon heard, and actions will follow.