Our daily lives, decision-making practices and business can fit within the earth’s carrying capacity. It pays to seize sustainable solutions right now, as they can help us stop overconsumption and biodiversity loss and mitigate climate change.
New report suggests four ways for the EU to support a circular transition through trade and international co-operation
What is it about?
We have set off on a journey towards a society based on the limits of the earth’s carrying capacity. We need to act more swiftly and efficiently to lower emissions in a world ravaged by the climate crisis, diminishing natural resources and biodiversity Biodiversity The diversity of wildlife that safeguards the preconditions for life on Earth. Open term page Biodiversity , and population growth. This means that our well-being can no longer be based on overconsumption Earth overshoot day The calculated date on which humanity’s ecological footprint exceeds the earth’s annual biocapacity; that is, its capacity to produce renewable natural resources and process the greenhouse gas emissions caused by the use of fossil fuels. Open term page Earth overshoot day and fossil fuels.
We at Sitra, through our work with our Finnish and international partners, are the first in the world to offer the means for this new kind of daily life, where companies’ business models are based on the circular economy and offering services rather than just manufacturing new products. We help people find their own ways of living sustainably, increase the demand for environmentally friendly solutions and challenge the public sector to create a functional framework for the new economic model – a carbon-neutral circular economy A carbon-neutral circular economy An economic system that works on a carbon-neutral basis – i.e. produces net zero emissions – and has adapted to the earth’s carrying capacity and the planetary boundaries. Open term page A carbon-neutral circular economy .
Our aim is for Finland to be an international trailblazer for a new kind of sustainable society in 2025.
What are we doing?
We raise awareness and inspire people, companies, research institutions and government to identify opportunities in a new kind of low-carbon lifestyle and related business. The world’s growing cities increase demand for more sustainable food production, for example, which is a significant market opportunity for Finnish businesses as well. Succeeding in this requires a new kind of co-operation between companies and research institutions and cities, municipalities and government.
Our means of achieving this goal include challenge prize competitions, development programmes, experiments, events, reports and opinions. We work to bring all the various interested parties together, as encounters give rise to the kind of new activity that will build the carbon-neutral Carbon-neutral Describes, for example, a product, company, municipality or state that only emits as much carbon dioxide as it can offset. The carbon footprint of a carbon-neutral product during its entire life cycle is zero. Open term page Carbon-neutral circular economy. In fact, together we have succeeded in creating operating models with which societal change can be achieved while ensuring competitiveness. Now, we will offer and export these proven ways of working and tools to other countries to use in order to accelerate the transition towards a global carbon-neutral circular economy.
In 2021, we will also be looking at sustainability from the viewpoint of halting biodiversity loss. Stay tuned!
What has been achieved?
Since 2013, we have been developing practical tools for companies and industry so they can transform into carbon-neutral businesses. Companies also play a significant role in making smarter and more sustainable choices more attractive. We have also encouraged Finns to live good and more sustainable lives and investigated how sustainable Finns already are and the kinds of feelings climate change causes. Sitra’s lifestyle test has been taken more than a million times, and thousands of Finns have prepared a personal plan to reduce their carbon footprint.
In order to build a climate-positive Finland that supports biodiversity, we need proven solution models. We investigate new and innovative measures that encompass the whole of society to significantly reduce climate emissions. We have proposed a sustainable development tax reform (in Finnish) for Finland and have investigated the scaling-up of proven solutions, such as the Green to Scale projects.
According to our report, the circular economy can increase the value of our national economy by at least 3 billion euros annually by 2030. The world’s first road map to a circular economy, created under Sitra’s lead, was published in the autumn 2016, and its version 2.0 updated Finland’s route to sustainable success and the transformation of the economy. The main attention is on the role of government as a facilitator, encounters between different parties in society and co-operation between companies.
To celebrate the centenary of Finland’s independence, we instigated the World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF), an annual event that brings together business leaders, policymakers and experts from around the world to discuss today’s best circular economy solutions.
Together with education institutions, we have created materials for teaching the circular economy in Finnish primary schools, upper secondary schools and vocational schools and created the Climate.now teaching module with universities to ensure that Finnish students of all disciplines are given up-to-date information about climate change and its impacts on their own fields.