Asia has experienced fast economic growth in the last years. This has been driven by increasing domestic consumption and global and intraregional trade4. However, this growth remains largely founded on unsustainable consumption and production patterns that exacerbate inequality and environmental degradation, highly affect biodiversity and intensify the effects of climate change.
Environmental challenges in the region range from air, water and soil pollution, poor waste management, pressure on marine ecosystems, biodiversity loss and degradation of ecosystem and increasing demand for energy, minerals, metals, food, land and water. In terms of climate change, due to its unprecedented industrial growth, the region has become a major emitter5 of greenhouse gases (GHG), which influence the climate and the temperature of the earth. Key economic sectors such as textiles and leather highly contribute to the increase of global GHG emissions due to their long supply chains and energy intensive production phases. Overall energy needs in manufacturing and in private households in Asia is very high. The latter is estimated to grow by 45% until 2030 when the region alone will consume more than 37% of the total global electricity. Agricultural activities have also huge negative impact on the environment. These include, for instance, water-intense processing and the use of large quantities of not environmentally friendly packaging. In the last decades, industrial chemical waste discharged in many rivers has been polluting important water resources for both humans and wildlife in the region.
The recent Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis has shown the connection between human activities and the loss of biodiversity, leading to the spread of new diseases and viruses. The pandemic has also disrupted Global Value Chains (GVCs) on which most Asian economies have been built upon over the last decades. The slowdown6 of economies in Asia has turned into a slowdown in European economies and vice-versa. The collapse in production activity at the heart of many GVCs has caused socio-economic implications for both producers and consumers in countries further up and down the value chains in both continents.
Today the region is at a turning point to prevent its rapid industrialisation and urbanisation from irreversibly causing resource depletion and environmental degradation that will endanger its economic and social development in the long term. The COVID-19 recovery process represents both a challenge and an opportunity to build resilient societies and climate-neutral economies and to invest in more sustainable and greener future across Asia, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the EU’s environmental commitments as set out in the European Green Deal. To improve long-term public and planetary health, governments need to invest in a fair transition greening industrial practices and changing consumption behaviours.
With the signing of the Paris Agreement for Climate Change and many Asian countries’ commitment to Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the political momentum around addressing these key issues is growing. The importance for a joint response to these threats is also reflected in the European Green Deal7.
Through this transformative agenda, the EU is committed to becoming the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 and to supporting its partner countries in their shift to a greener and more sustainable economy. The newly adopted Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP)8, the Farm to Fork Strategy9 and the EU Biodiversity Strategy 203010, all highlight the benefits of a global transition to greener and more circular business models for both goods and services which would generate fairer economic returns to all actors of the value chain. They also highlight the importance of the promotion of forest-friendly products and more sustainable food processing (by helping farmers and fishers to strengthen their position in the supply chain), of setting ambitious global standards for products in the market, reducing food loss and waste and supporting the uptake of alternative packaging. Likewise, they highlight the importance of empowering consumers in their daily choices and promoting economies to be less dependent on natural resources, and to pay more attention to the protection of the environment and avoid biodiversity loss related to production. The EU trade policy11 also underlines the importance of addressing the rise of global value chains by reinforcing corporate social responsibility initiatives and due diligence across the production chain, promoting international transparency standards, addressing regulatory fragmentation and ensuring that consumers can enjoy a broader choice of sustainable products and be confident in the products they buy in a global economy.
However, the transition to a low-carbon economy will require a great deal of financing. To help investors and public institutions to understand which companies are taking effective measures to reduce their carbon footprints and contributing to environmental sustainability, the European Commission is currently developing an EU Taxonomy12 in areas such as circular economy and climate change mitigation and adaptation. To encourage this dialogue internationally and to promote green finance, in 2019 the Commission launched the International Platform on Sustainable Finance (IPSF)13. In Asia, China, India and Indonesia are already members of the platform while some other countries in the region are currently developing a National Roadmap on Sustainable Finance (such as Myanmar) or using taxonomies as regulatory guidance for green credits to support companies and organisations in going greener.
The SWITCH-Asia Programme, launched in 2007, is part of the EU Flagship Initiative SWITCH to Green14 and of the Commission’s contribution to the achievement of the SDG12 on Responsible Consumption and Production15 in Asia. Therefore, through technical assistance and innovative projects, the Programme supports the transition of the region to a low-carbon, resource efficient and circular economy whilst promoting more sustainable supply chains and products between Asia and Europe by “Trade for all - Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy” - engaging with various actors (the industrial sector, consumers, financial institutions, national governments and regional organisations).
Funded projects are expected to develop and ensure adoption of SCP practices by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and consumers’ organisations across the region and to prepare viable and bankable business cases to be proposed to investors for their replication. Innovative SCP practices are already available both in Europe and in Asia. However, their adoption, their scale-up and commercialisation require often very significant investments that MSMEs are not able to pay for. On the other hand, investors are often reluctant to invest in new green products and practices that are not mature enough and which represent a high investment risk due to their unpredictable financial return. In this regard, SWITCH-Asia provides a great opportunity for Asian companies to overcome the so-called “Manufacturing Valley of Death16” and to avoid market gaps. The increase of access to finance for MSMEs and consumers organisations to scale-up their SCP solutions will be a key priority within projects. For this reason, projects are expected to initiate dialogues with local, national, regional and international financial institutions and investors in order to secure viable financial opportunities for their replication and/or influence new financial/ credit schemes to support sustainable production and consumption practices in the region in the future.
Finally, the evidence provided by projects will also feed into policy and regulatory discussions with national governments and regional organisations to support the green transition in the region. Working closely with the EU Delegation in the country(ies), the SCP Facility and the Regional Policy Advocacy Component of the Programme, projects will be key in demonstrating how the adoption of successful SCP practices by both producers and consumers can reduce their impacts on the environment while ensuring green economic growth and poverty reduction in Asia. Inspired and supported by this evidence, national governments and regional organisations would then be able to formulate and implement greener strategies, action plans as well as adapting their legislative and regulatory frameworks.
1.2. OBJECTIVES OF THE PROGRAMME AND PRIORITY ISSUES
The SWITCH-Asia Programme is currently organised around three components:
A Grant Scheme supporting collaborative innovative projects between stakeholders in Europe and in the region.
A SCP Facility working closely with the EU Delegations in the eligible countries and supporting national governments in the formulation and in the implementation of SCP-related policies and action plans based on the results of projects.
This call for proposals is proposed within the Programme’s Grant Scheme.
The global objective of this call for proposals is to support the development of a green, low-carbon, resource-efficient and more circular economy, and to contribute to economic prosperity and poverty reduction in Asia.
The specific objectives of this call for proposals are: (1) to develop and adopt less polluting and more resource-efficient and circular products, processes and services by MSMEs allowing their integration to global greener value and supply chains and, (2) to promote more sustainable consumption patterns in Asia.
In line with the priorities of the European Green Deal and notably with the Circular Economy Action Plan, the Farm to Fork Strategy and the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030, the priorities of this call for proposals are:
Priority 1: « Support MSMEs in reducing the environmental impact of their industrial production, improving resource efficiency and adopting circular economy practices »
Priority 2: « Engaging with consumers on sustainable consumption and production practices »
Project proposals should address only one of the mentioned priorities.
To avoid duplication with ongoing and past projects, applicants are invited to check the activities already
financed under the SWITCH-Asia Programme17.
The target groups of this call for proposals are: Micro-Small-and-Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs), retailers, chambers of commerce, industrial clusters or associations, national and regional clean production centres, farmers associations, universities, research centres, centres for technology transfer, I/NGOs, consumer organisations, development organisations, trade federations, labour organisations.
1.3. FINANCIAL ALLOCATION PROVIDED BY THE CONTRACTING AUTHORITY
The overall indicative amount made available under this call for proposals is EUR 32.600.000. The contracting authority reserves the right not to award all available funds.
Size of grants
Any grant requested under this call for proposals must fall between the following minimum and maximum amounts:
minimum amount: EUR 1.000.000
maximum amount: EUR 2.500.000
Applications that do not meet this criterion will be rejected on this sole basis.
Any grant requested under this call for proposals must fall between the following minimum and maximum percentages of total eligible costs of the action:
Minimum percentage: 50% of the total eligible costs of the action.
Maximum percentage: 80% of the total eligible costs of the action and 90% if all activities of the action take place in Least Developed Countries (LDC)18 (see also Section 2.1.5).
Applications that do not meet this criterion will be rejected on this sole basis.
The balance (i.e. the difference between the total cost of the action and the amount requested from the contracting authority) must be financed from sources other than the general budget of the Union or the European Development Fund19.
2. RULES FOR THIS CALL FOR PROPOSALS
These guidelines set out the rules for the submission, selection and implementation of the actions financed under this call, in conformity with the practical guide, which is applicable to the present call (available on the internet at this address http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/prag/document.do?locale=en).20
2.1. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
There are three sets of eligibility criteria, relating to: (1) the actors:
The ‘lead applicant’, i.e. the entity submitting the application form (2.1.1),
if any, its co-applicant(s) (where it is not specified otherwise the lead applicant and its co- applicant(s) are hereinafter jointly referred as ‘applicant(s)’) (2.1.1),
and, if any, affiliated entity(ies) to the lead applicant and/or to a co-applicant(s). (2.1.2);
(2) the actions:
Actions for which a grant may be awarded (2.1.4);
(3) the costs:
types of cost that may be taken into account in setting the amount of the grant (2.1.5).
(1) In order to be eligible for a grant, the lead applicant must:
be a legal person, and
be non-profit-making, or
be a business and for-profit organisation (e.g. Micro-Small-and-Medium-Sized Enterprises/MSMEs, retailers, chambers of commerce, industrial clusters or associations), national and regional clean production centres, universities, research centres, centres for technology transfer, consumer organisations, development organisations, trade federations and labour organisations, or
be a specific type of organisation such as: non-governmental organisation, public sector operator.
International organisations (as defined by Article 156 of the EU Financial Regulation) are not eligible under this call for proposals,
2.1.1. Eligibility of applicants (i.e. lead applicant and co-applicant(s))
be established in21 a Member State of the European Union (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden) and United Kingdom.
For UK applicants: Please be aware that following the entry into force of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement22 on 1 February 2020 and in particular Articles 127(6), 137 and 138,
the references to natural or legal persons residing or established in a Member State of the European Union and to goods originating from an eligible country, as defined under Regulation (EU) No 236/201423 and Annex IV of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement24, are to be understood as including natural or legal persons residing or established in, and to goods originating from, the United Kingdom25. Those persons and goods are therefore eligible under this call; or
be established in one of the following Asian countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Indonesia, India, Lao PDR, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam, or
be established in member countries of the OECD, in case of contracts exclusively implemented in a Least Developed Country or a Highly Indebted Country as included in the list of ODA recipients, or
be established in a Member State of the European Economic Area (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway), or
be established in countries from the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA II) ( Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), and
be directly responsible for the preparation and management of the action with the co- applicant(s) and affiliated entity(ies), not acting as an intermediary.
(2) Potential applicants may not participate in calls for proposals or be awarded grants if they are in any of the situations listed in Section 220.127.116.11 of the practical guide;
Lead applicants, co-applicants, affiliated entities and, in case of legal entities, persons who have powers of representation, decision-making or control over the lead applicant, the co-applicants and the affiliated entities are informed that, should they be in one of the situations of early detection or exclusion according to Section 18.104.22.168 of the practical guide, personal details (name, given name if natural person, address, legal form and name and given name of the persons with powers of representation, decision-making or control, if legal person) may be registered in the early detection and exclusion system, and communicated to the persons and entities concerned in relation to the award or the execution of a grant contract. In this respect, provisionally selected lead applicants, co-applicants and affiliated entities are obliged to declare that they are not in one of the exclusion situations through a signed declaration on honour (PRAG Annex A14) together with the full application. For grants of EUR 60 000 or less, no declaration on honour is required.
In Annex A.1 Section 2 and Annex A.2 Section 5 (‘declaration(s) by the lead applicant’), the lead applicant must declare that the lead applicant himself, the co-applicant(s) and affiliated entity(ies) are not in any of these situations.
The lead applicant must act with co-applicant(s) as specified hereafter
If awarded the grant contract, the lead applicant will become the beneficiary identified as the coordinator in Annex G (special conditions). The coordinator is the main interlocutor of the contracting authority. It represents and acts on behalf of any other co-beneficiary (if any) and coordinate the design and implementation of the action.
Each proposal should be submitted by a partnership/ consortium composed at least by one lead applicant and one co-applicant. The partnership/ consortium has to include:
at least one organisation from a Member State of the European Union, the United Kingdom or the European Economic Area;
at least one organisation from an eligible Asian country originating from the country/ies where the action is implemented (’action location’ as per guidelines 2.1.4).
The role of each partnership/ consortium member organisation must be clearly explained in the proposal. Even though the contracting authority concludes a contract with the lead applicant, the co- applicant(s)/affiliated entities should be shown to actively contribute to the implementation of the project. It is strongly recommended that the applicant and its co-applicant(s) draw up an agreement defining the technical and financial rights and obligations of each partnership member. A clear written allocation of responsibilities and a balanced distribution of costs will contribute to the partnership’s success.
Co-applicants participate in designing and implementing the action, and the costs they incur are eligible in the same way as those incurred by the lead applicant.
Co-applicants must satisfy the eligibility criteria as applicable to the lead applicant himself. Co- applicants must sign the mandate in Annex A.2 Section 5.
If awarded the grant contract, the co-applicant(s) (if any) will become beneficiary(ies) in the action (together with the coordinator)
(3) Applicants included in the lists of EU restrictive measures (see Section 2.4. of the PRAG) at the moment of the award decision cannot be awarded the contract26.