SWITCH-Asia Programme

About the Organization

The European Commission is part of the executive of the European Union, together with the European Council. It operates as a cabinet government, with 27 members of the Commission headed by a President. It includes an administrative body of about 32,000 European civil servants.

About the Grant

The coronavirus pandemic and the recent war in Ukraine caused unprecedent socio-economic impacts testing the resilience of societies and economies and disrupting Global Value Chains (GVC). In addition, natural catastrophes such as floods and droughts heavily affected the development of many countries (Pakistan, Indonesia, Philippines, Bangladesh, Kiribati, Fiji, just to name few) and accelerated the need to urgently address the causes and effects of climate change and consider models of economic growth decoupled from environmental degradation.

Micro-small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are the backbone of economies and the engine of growth in the Asia-Pacific region. Overall in the region, they comprise 98% of enterprises contributing from about 17% to national GDP in the low-income countries to about 40 to 50% in the countries like Malaysia. MSMEs have generated the largest number of employment opportunities, second only to agriculture, employing more than 50% of the workforce.

In this regard, at the recent United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC/ COP 27) in Egypt in November 2022, the international community acknowledged “the importance of the transition to sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption and production to address climate change” as well as the key role played by the private sector in this transition. In addition, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework adopted in December 2022 also includes relevant targets to notably reduce pollution (target 7), to encourage and enable businesses to reduce their negative impacts on biodiversity (target 15), to establish frameworks to encourage people to make sustainable consumption choices, including through reducing overconsumption and waste generation, notably food waste (target 16) to which this Action will contribute.

According to research by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, 45% of the carbon emission reductions will need to come from the Circular Economy transition, in order to reach the 2050 targets. In this context, it is important to recognise that the extraction, processing, and manufacturing (including final consumption and recycling and/or disposal) of goods and services accounts for close to 50% of the Worlds carbon emission, which highlights the importance of supporting MSMEs (being the backbone of production) in greening their businesses. Furthermore, companies adopting a greener business concept are likely to also invest in renewable energy solutions or apply measures for better energy efficiency. Overall, 70% of all global greenhouse gas emissions are related to material handling and use. So, unless we radically transform how we use materials to satisfy our needs, we cannot meaningfully cut emissions.

Since 2007, the EU launched the “SWITCH-Asia Programme” aiming at supporting the transition of energy-intense and high polluting industries in the Asia-Pacific region such as plastics and waste, textiles and leather, agri-food and beverage (most of which are women-oriented sectors).

Over the last 15 years, the programme has supported over 500 organisations in the region and provided technical assistance to more than 20 countries across Asia in adopting national plans on circular economy and sustainable production, green building codes and frameworks for alternative non-plastics packaging. Successful examples, among others, include the reduction of marine litter in the South Asia Sea, the integration of green technologies in the tanning processing in India and of monitoring, reporting and verification frameworks in the garment sector in Cambodia and a National Standard for Sustainable Textile Production in Mongolia.

The 2022’s review of projects funded by the programme so far showed a clear alignment between projects and EU policies supported under the EU Green Agenda. 63% of completed projects reported quantitative data on the adoption of SCP practices by business units and about 43.000 companies engaged in activities through organisations implementing SWITCH-Asia grants reported the adoption of SCP practices. 27.000 MSMEs engaged in the 31 projects focusing on sustainability standards certifications declared having integrated them as a regular practice. Finally, the 39 projects specifically focusing on CO₂e emission reduction reported to have collectively saved about 25.867.552 t CO₂e.

Based on this successful experience as of 2023 the programme entered its Phase III being extended to additional countries in the Pacific, raising the ambitions of the EU to support small island countries and fragile States in integrating more sustainable GVCs.

During the Phase III, the SWITCH-Asia programme will be structured around two components: (i) the “Policy Support Component” (Commission Implementing Decision C(2021)9580 adopted on 16/12/2021) providing direct support to national Governments and regional organisations, complementing bilateral actions and strengthening policy dialogues with policy-makers regionally; and (ii) the “Grants Scheme” component (corresponding to this specific AAP/Action) aiming at supporting the green transition of export-led valuechains across the region ensuring that financial instruments available in the market may respond to the real needs of MSMEs and that consumers are capacitated in their choices and protected from greenwashing.

This call for proposal will support priorities of the Global Gateway by strengthening the resilience and integration of value chains and promoting EU interests and values by ensuring that supply chains of EU companies in third countries may comply with EU standards and norms (avoiding the disruption of EU value chains in the long term) and in ensuring the import of more sustainable products to the EU market. The Action will also help in countering the perception in partner countries that standards are protectionist measures and it will help demonstrating that investing in the transition to more sustainable and circular models and higher standards both in production processes and in products will instead in the long term allow the private sector in these countries to be part of relevant GVC supporting also their internal economic development.

The call for proposal will also directly support the implementation of the external dimension of the European Green Deal such as the Farm to Fork Strategy, the EU Strategy for Sustainable Textiles, the EU Consumer Agenda, the Green Deal Industrial Plan, the Net Zero Industrial Act, the Circular Economy Action Plan and related initiatives, among which the EU Ecodesign for sustainable product Regulation, the Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence (CS3D), the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, upcoming actions on the unintentional release of microplastics, legislations on the Right-to-Repair, the Green Claim Initiative, just to name few. Important links exist also with the EU Trade Policy. In this regard, the results of projects may advise chapters on Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) as well as activities under the European Partnership Agreements (EPAs), the Free Trade Agreements (FTA) – and related Sustainable Food Systems (SFS) Chapters, when existing.

In addition, policy and regulatory aspects of the EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) will eventually be considered in activities implemented by the Policy Support Component of the programme5 , while projects eventually selected under this Action will rather support deforestation-free products and processes. The programme will consider also how to address future priorities of the European Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM)6 shall this mechanism focus on economic sectors supported by the programme.

This call for proposal will also underpin goals of several EU regional strategies such as, the Indo-Pacific Strategy and the EU-ASEAN Partnership (including its Plan of Action 2023-2027). Awarded projects contribute mainly to the achievement of the SDG12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production) and SDG13 (climate change), while supporting the specific targets of SDG7 (clean energy), SDG8 (decent work & economic growth), SDG9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), SDG11 (sustainable cities and communities).

Finally, this call for proposal will encourage applicants to associate Financial institutions to their applications and potentially link them with the European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus (EFSD+)7 , as well as other financial schemes, aiming ideally to the future creation of a pipeline of bankable projects for financial institutions.


The SWITCH-Asia Programme is currently organised around 2 components:

  • A Grant scheme component supporting the greening of value-chains between Europe and the region underpinning goals of the Global Gateway
  • A “Policy Support Component” providing direct support to governments and regional organisations in adopting sustainable policy and regulatory frameworks as well as facilitating policy dialogues between countries in the eligible regions

This call for proposals is proposed within the programme’s grant scheme.

The global objective of this call for proposals is: to support the transition of the region to a low-carbon, resource efficient and circular economy, whilst promoting more sustainable value chains and products between the region and Europe, contributing to the recovery of local economies.

The specific objective(s) of this call for proposals are:

  • support the green transition of key economic value-chains either within the eligible region or to the EU to reduce their carbon and environmental footprints.
  • ensure that available or new green and climate finance instruments will respond to the needs of MSMEs in the region.
  • support local consumers in acting more responsibly in choosing low-carbon and environmentally and socially sustainable products and services.

In line with the priorities of Global Gateway, the European Green Deal, and the EU’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, the priorities of this call for proposals are:

  • Priority 1: Support MSMEs in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and the environmental impact of their industrial production, improving resource mobilisation and efficiency and adopting circular economy practices
  • Priority 2: Engaging with consumers on low-carbon practices and sustainable consumption and production practices

Applicants proposing projects should address one of the aforementioned priorities.

Grant Size

The overall indicative amount made available under this call for proposals is EUR 24 million. The contracting authority reserves the right not to award all available funds.

Indicative allocation of funds by lot: Lot

  • 1: EUR 20 million for Asia Lot
  • 2: EUR 4 million for Pacific

If the allocation indicated for a specific lot cannot be used due to insufficient quality or number of proposals received, the contracting authority reserves the right to reallocate the remaining funds to another lot.

Any grant requested under this call for proposals must fall between the following minimum and maximum amounts:

  • minimum amount: EUR 500.000
  • maximum amount: EUR 1.500.000

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)8 (see also Section 2.1.4.).

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 Fund9 .


In order to be eligible for a grant, the lead applicant must:

  • be a legal person and
  • be non-profit-making or
  • be a specific type of organisation such as: non-governmental organisation, public sector operator. or
  • be established in a Member State of the European Union or
  • be established in one of the following Asian-Pacific countries or
  • be established in a Member State of the European Economic Area or
  • be established in countries from the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance
  • 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 countries from the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA II) (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Türkiye) 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.

How to Apply

Deadline for submission1 of concept note:

12 December 2023 at 12:00 (Brussels time and date)

For more information please check the Link


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