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WCEF2018: Finland and Japan are committed to advancing the circular economy at their upcoming presidencies of the EU and G20

Japanese and Finnish ministers saw the potential of the circular economy to renew the global economy at the World Circular Economy Forum 2018. The world’s top circular economy event gathered over 1,000 reformers of the global economy to Yokohama, Japan.


Samuli Laita

Senior Lead, Communications and Public Affairs


At the closing event of the WCEF 2018, Japan’s State Minister of the Environment Tsukasa Akimoto stated that Japan will advance the circular economy when the world’s third biggest economy takes up the presidency of the group of 20 countries (G20) in 2019. 

“Japan will bring the output of this forum to various international conferences such as the Asia-Pacific 3R promotion forum, United Nations Environment Assembly UNEA4 and G20, which Japan will be the chair country of next year, and show strong leadership for the circular economy,” the minister said at the closing of the WCEF2018. 

When speaking to the international media at the forum, Finland’s Minister of the Environment Kimmo Tiilikainen stressed that Finland’s EU- and Japan’s G20-presidency in 2019 will be a fantastic opportunity to promote the solutions of circular economy and to fight environmental collapse and climate change. 

On Monday 22 October at WCEF2018, Japan’s Minister of the Environment Yoshiaki Harada and Minister Tiilikainen signed the Memorandum of Environmental Cooperation, which will pave the way for more intensive cooperation between the two countries.

The importance of co-operation was highlighted by Jyrki Katainen, Vice-president of the European Commission. “The circular economy is the industrial leg of fighting climate change”, he stated. “The public sector does not tackle this by itself; we need co-operation with the private sector.” 

WCEF2018 gathered over 1000 world economy reformers from over 80 countries to Yokohama, Japan. The forum presented a plethora of the world’s best circular economy solutions and offered a platform for developing new ideas and partnerships. WCEF2018 focused on building a shared vision for the circular economy towards the year 2050. 

“We need to have something to strive towards and not let our fears of the unknown and of change limit us and our actions”, said Mikko Kosonen, President of Finland’s Innovation Fund Sitra, when he opened the WCEF2018. 

The forum themes included economic benefits and social equity of the circular economy, sustainable lifestyles and consumer solutions, energy and climate, global value chains and trade, as well as the mobility revolution and circular solutions for reducing plastic waste. 

The circular economy decouples virgin and non-renewable resource use from economic growth and puts an end to our era of overconsumption – the era which has caused climate change, alarming loss of biodiversity and the over-use of natural resources. 

“It’s time for us to face the culprit of these crises: the evergrowing consumption of energy and materials, and the unsustainable use of natural resources. We should not only try to treat consequences, but we must address and cure the root cause itself”, said Mari Pantsar, who is leading Carbon-Neutral Circular Economy theme at the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra.  

The World Circular Economy Forum is the global initiative of the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra. The WCEF2018 was hosted by Sitra and Japan’s Ministry of the Environment and co-organized with selected international partners. The World Circular Economy Forum will take place in Helsinki, Finland on 3-5 June 2019 and in Canada in 2020. 

More information about the WCEF2018 can be found on the website and about the WCEF2019 here


Press contacts 

Veera Heinonen, Communications Director, tel. +358 50 372 5244
Samuli Laita, Communications Specialist, tel. +358 40 536 8650 

Further information on the event

Hanna-Leena Ottelin, Project Manager, WCEF2018,,  tel. +358 50 376 9499 

More information on Finland’s work on a circular economy

Mari Pantsar, Director,, tel. +358 50 382 0755 

Kari Herlevi, Project Director,, tel. ‭+358 50 463 9397‬

Contact us
Project Director, Circular Economy, Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra

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