Sitra encourages the EU to adopt a key role in building a global circular economy
With the action plan for the circular economy, the European Union aims to turn into a sustainable, low-carbon, resource efficient and competitive economy. Taking advantage of its leading role, the EU can pave the way for the international community in building a global circular economy. This future key role of the EU was underlined at “Beyond WCEF2017: The European Union advancing a global circular economy”, a seminar organised by Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra in Brussels on 11 October 2017.
The Beyond WCEF2017 seminar, building on the World Circular Economy Forum 2017 held in Helsinki in June, discussed the accomplishments, enablers and obstacles as regard to the development of global circular economy from the policy, business, financing and research perspectives. Sitra recommends that the EU should take the lead in a global transition to a circular economy as the value chains of the modern economy are global.
The Vice-President of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen highlighted that the circular economy is a megatrend just as strong as digitalisation. He also emphasised the need to renew the EU’s bioeconomy strategy due to major technological development since 2012. Sitra agrees with this need and strongly believes that the circular economy can and should play a key role in the new European industrial policy strategy, introduced in Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s State of the Union Speech 2017.
A world that is currently being challenged by stronger protectionism and closing of borders should be quick to seize the remaining opportunities for international collaboration. Circular economy solutions pose vast economic opportunities for industrial activities of the future – increasing efficiencies and unlocking additional value through new innovative business models. Kimmo Tiilikainen, Minister of Housing, Energy and the Environment of Finland raised some of the actions that are already being implemented in Finland, such as the circular economy roadmap and action programme. But a giant leap forward is still required.
Sitra, a future-organisation under the Parliament of Finland, is pushing Finland to act as a forerunner in the circular economy. Finland created the world’s first national road map to a circular economy last year and is now on its way to convert plans into concrete actions. Sitra sees circular economy as the next success factor of Finland’s economic, social and environmental development. Drawing from Finland’s reputation in the education sector, similarly the country’s accomplishments in circular economy should not be limited only to Finland. European nations and other nations around the world can benefit from the learnings made in Finland.
The discussions of the seminar emphasised the inevitable development of a global circular economy – both in our mindsets and policy-making. The imperative for a circular economy is becoming clearer to the global audience – our economies cannot keep on wasting natural resources through a linear model or we will destroy the foundation for human well-being.