Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday said small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can play a crucial role in checking climate degrading practices in the industrial sector and ensuring a "greener future".
Addressing the 21st International Conference on Small and Medium Enterprises organised by the World Association for Small and Medium Enterprises, Naidu said that people are now waking up to the reality of climate change, which was not the case till a few decades back.
"Few decades ago, discussions on these topics remained confined to scientific conferences as the general public either remained blissfully indifferent or were not fully aware about the disastrous consequences," he said.
"But gradually people have started to realize the dangers of indiscriminate depletion of natural resources and that it cannot be business as usual. In sustaining this planet and ensuring a greener future for posterity, the SMEs can play a crucial role by adopting practices that will not impact the environment and harm the present and future generations," he added.
Terming them as the "backbone" of the country's economy, Naidu informed the people that SMEs contribute up to 45 per cent in the country's GDP and the sector employs nearly 46 crore people, becoming "the second largest workforce in the country after the agricultural sector".
He said the sector was growing at 11.5 per cent annually.
Citing the numbers from World Bank, he said: "600 million jobs will be needed in the next 15 years to absorb the growing global workforce, mainly in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa."
He also conceded the problems ailing the sector which is "handicapped by skill gaps, poor technology, regulatory complexities and trade barriers", and said these challenges needed to be assailed for SMEs to realise their full potential.