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A guide to help any country create a national circular economy road map 

Sitra has put together a guide based on what has been learned from Finland’s circular economy road map process. 


Antti Lehtinen

Specialist, Communications and Public Affairs


The change towards a circular economy The circular economy An economic model which does not focus on producing more and more goods, but in which consumption is based on using services – sharing, renting and recycling – instead of owning. Materials are not destroyed in the end, but are used to make new products over and over again. Open term page The circular economy is not only a wise move for well-being and competitiveness, but also essential for a sustainable future. The circular economy provides solutions to the biggest challenges we are facing – overconsumption of natural resources, climate change and biodiversity loss.

But how do you actually make the transition to a circular economy? Where do you start, what do you aim for and how do you know if you are there? 

Finland’s answer was to create a national road map to a circular economy, the first country in the world to do so.

The road map, published in 2016 and subsequently updated in 2019, outlines the circular economy measures to which Finnish state administration, municipalities and businesses have already committed themselves.

Now, Sitra has compiled a guide based on what has been learned from Finland’s circular economy road map process. The guide features tools, guidelines and inspiration for countries that want to move towards or are already taking their first steps towards a circular economy.

The road map and the drawing-up process have attracted a lot of international interest and enquiries,” says Kari Herlevi, Project Director for the circular economy at Sitra.

 Most of the interest and questions have been about the overall process and particularly how to get started and how to achieve a broad society-level impact with a transformative process. This guide is our answer to those enquiries. 

A hands-on guide for ambitioucountries 

A circular economy road map is a tool for change: it helps define the required steps and compiles key stakeholders’ views on the essential changes and actions required for the circular transformation. It is a document that includes a vision as well as goals and tangible actions that will accelerate a country’s transition towards a circular economy.

The guide “How to create a national circular economy road map” was created for those who are planning and executing a circular economy road map process – governments, ministries, think tanks, NGOs or independent experts. It is especially useful in a phase where a decision to create a national circular economy has been made but the process is yet to start.

The guide can be used as both an inspiration and a guide that walks the reader through each phase of the road map process. It provides detailed information about the different phases of building a road map and specific examples of how it was done in Finland. With the advice and encouragement provided, countries starting their journey towards a circular economy do not need to start from the scratch.

However, it can also be used to support an intention to start a circular economy road map process or when updating or revising a circular economy road map. 

Finland continues to support a more sustainable economy 

The guide is being published during WCEFonline, an online event bringing together over 5,000 global economy reformers to discuss the most important tool for sustainable recovery: the circular economy.

“The circular economy should play a key role in a sustainable recovery. And national circular economy road maps are an important tool for accelerating a circular transition. We hope the guide and Finland’s example will inspire many countries to start creating national circular economy road maps, says Herlevi.

The World Circular Economy Forum WCEF was established in 2017, the year marking Finland’s centenary of independence, as a gift from the then 50-year-old Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra to the world. 

Sitra continues to support a global transition to a more sustainable economy: this year the contribution of Sitra is the guide to drawing up a road map to a circular economy.

Download publication: How to create a national circular economy road map.

Read summary: How to create a national circular economy road map (summary).

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