Sitra winning last year’s The Circulars Awards was proof of Finland’s strong will to resolve the global sustainability crisis through a transition towards a carbon-neutral circular economy. Each year, the initiative ranks the world’s leading drivers of the circular economy in seven different categories.
With its work, Sitra has set the goal of making Finland lead the way towards a new kind of society based on a more efficient economy. Success and maintaining competitiveness require not just immediate action to address climate issues but also a new economic approach. In this, the circular economy plays a key role.
“The European Commission has shared a similar view for all of Europe – it has considered the circular economy to be a key source of Europe’s competitiveness,” says Mari Pantsar, the director of carbon-neutral circular economy at Sitra, who was on the jury of The Circulars this year.
Leadership builds the global circular economy
Fighting climate change requires international co-operation more than ever. At the same time, the foundations of co-operation are at risk as isolation and extreme nationalism seemingly continue to rise. The circular economy can be one of the keys to a new era of co-operation. Sitra congratulates the EU Commission for its leadership in making Europe a circular economy pioneer.
“Sixty per cent of the world’s circular economy projects are in Europe,” Pantsar says. “The EU Commission is in a league of its own in terms of impact. The majority of the world’s circular economy projects have been accelerated by the Commission’s circular economy package.”
The Commission’s ambitious Circular Economy Package, announced in December 2015, includes measures to promote the circular economy throughout the life cycle of products, from production and consumption to waste management and the development of a market for secondary raw materials. The package aims to maximise the value of raw materials by keeping them in circulation as long as possible, to improve energy efficiency and to reduce climate emissions.
The new era can yield tremendous benefits. It has been estimated that the economic net benefit to Europe alone could be as much as 1.8 trillion euros by 2030. A survey recently commissioned by Sitra and the European Climate Foundation also shows that reaching the objectives of the Paris Agreement requires the adoption of circular economy principles for the use of four of the most essential materials – aluminium, plastic, cement and steel.
Finland inspires Europe
Already 11 European countries have prepared their own national circular economy road maps or action programmes. Finland was the first country in the world to prepare a national road map in 2016, under the leadership of Sitra, and the lessons learned have been used by several countries to create their own road maps. The next version of Finland’s road map will be published in March.
Under Sitra’s leadership, the world’s circular economy experts now have their own top-level event – the World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF), which was held for the first time in Helsinki in June 2017. In 2018, a thousand participants convened in Yokohama for the second event, organised by Sitra and the Ministry of the Environment of Japan. And from 3 to 5 June this year, WCEF2019 will bring around two thousand experts in the field to Helsinki again. We would like to extend a warm welcome to the representatives of the award-winning Commission to this year’s event!