Estimated reading time 4 min

EU Commission’s new global circular economy alliance to convene at WCEF

The World Circular Economy Forum, launched by Sitra in 2017, will become one of the key platforms for the discussions of the global alliance launched today by the European Commission.


Tuula Sjöstedt

Communications and Public Affairs Lead

Mika Sulkinoja

Senior Lead, Global collaboration, Sustainability solutions


Finland has been a circular pioneer in the European Union as well as globally: in 2016, we were the first country in the world to create a circular economy road map, which is now being executed through a strategic programme. As Finland celebrated its centennial in 2017, Sitra launched the World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF) which has quickly taken its place as one of the key platforms for promoting circularity around the globe.

Today, on 22 February, the European Commission, together with United Nations’ Environment Programme UNEP and Industrial Development Organization UNIDO launched the Global Alliance on Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency (GACERE) at a side event of the UNEA5 meeting. The alliance will make WCEF part of global multilateral discussions.

“We are very honoured by this recognition for the WCEF, which is led by Finland and Sitra. Including the forum as one of the platforms for organising discussions around the global alliance GACERE gives Finland a significant role in solving global sustainability challenges,” says Sitra’ President Jyrki Katainen.

GACERE is originally the EU’s idea: it is part of the EU Green Deal and its Circular Economy Action Plan. The EU wants to pave the way to a circular economy on a global level and use its power, expertise and financial resources to fulfil the UN’s Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.

The new global circular economy alliance GACERE combines regional collaboration networks and identifies the knowledge needed to scale up circularity as well as spread good policy practices. The goal is to create a growing group of friends consisting of different types of countries that all want to advance the circular economy. So far, the alliance has already been joined by Canada, Chile, Colombia, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Rwanda and South-Africa.

The members of GACERE will collaborate on a political level on multi-stakeholder platforms, especially at the UN’s General Assemby (UNGA) and Environment Assembly (UNEA) as well as the G7 and G20 groups.

In September, UNEP’s Director General Inger Andersen stated at WCEFonline that “in the future, circularity – sustainable production and consumption – must be embedded in all multilateral international agreements”.

This is exactly what GACERE is aiming for. It also wants to reduce our dependency on virgin raw materials. The alliance will probably also be looking into the possibilities of using trade policy for promoting circular economy trade. Closing material and value loops always demands collaboration, often on a global level, and the WCEF has also wanted to accelerate this collaboration.

As Director General of UNIDO Li Yong said today, the circular economy best provides us benefits, if its principles and practices are adopted globally. EU Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius also reminded us that a circular economy that uses resources more efficiently, is our only future.

In her op-ed in today’s Helsingin Sanomat (available in Finnish only), Inger Andersen also reminded that the world’s leaders need to show they are taking the planetary emergency seriously and are acting to fix it. UNEP’s recent publication Making Peace with Nature contains a scientific blueprint to tackle the climate, biodiversity and pollution emergencies. And the circular economy is one crucial tool for reaching a sustainable future that ensures the well-being of our planet and its habitants.

One of the platforms for organising discussions of GACERE will be WCEF, founded by Sitra.

“The World Circular Economy Forum reaches a wide group of stakeholders around the world. The Commission and UN organisations value especially WCEF’s ability to engage the private sector. This is also an acknowledgement of Sitra’s inclusive working methods: the WCEF is collaboratively produced in a wide international network,” Katainen says.

Canada’s Ambassador for Climate Change Patricia Fuller looks forward to the upcoming WCEF events, the WCEF+Climate on 15-16 April and the annual main event WCEF2021, co-hosted by Sitra and Canada on 13-15 September 2021.

“In the lead up to COP26, WCEF2021 will serve as an important opportunity to demonstrate the value of the circular economy in translating climate ambition into action”, Fuller says.

What's this about?