The world needs a circular economy. Help us make it happen

boxed water

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Frans van Houten, Chief Executive Officer, Royal Philips & Naoko Ishii, Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility


As policy-makers worldwide respond to a rising tide of climate activism and extreme weather events, the concept of the circular economy has become a key lever in the climate action tool kit.

Around 50% of the world’s current greenhouse gas emissions result from the extraction and processing of natural resources, with demand for raw materials under a ‘business-as-usual’ scenario predicted to double by 2050. Indeed, the general public is increasingly interested in the concept and its importance in preserving life on Earth. As we enter the decade to deliver on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and climate action, there is an emerging consensus that circular economy solutions are critical to achieving those goals by the 2030 deadline. Business-as-usual is not an option.

Fortunately, businesses are increasingly recognizing the value of going circular – a global growth opportunity valued by Accenture at $4.5 trillion over the next decade. CEOs are receiving detailed shareholder questions regarding their circular strategies, specialized private investment funds are being launched dedicated to circular companies, and public-private partnerships are being established to catalyse circular government and private-sector strategies.

We urgently need to translate this awareness into action. The latest Circularity Gap report from Circle Economy reveals that, faced with the twin headwinds of increased CO2 emissions and increased resource extraction, the global economy is only 8.6% circular. Just two years ago it was 9.1%. The global circularity gap is therefore widening. This is a major concern because of the pressure that natural resource extraction could exert on biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse, large-scale involuntary migration and failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation, as detailed in the latest World Economic Forum Global Risks Report.

With less than 10 years to prevent global warming from exceeding 1.5˚C and only 10 years to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is critical to bring together leaders across industry, government and civil society to shift the global economy more aggressively toward circularity. The Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) has grown quickly and has emerged as an important action hub and engine for change. With more than 70 leaders and 20 communities from across the public and private sectors, PACE has become the place to ensure that good words turn into positive actions at scale.

At the beginning of 2019, PACE moved from its place of inception (The World Economic Forum) to a new host, the World Resources Institute (WRI) in the Hague, allowing it to build out its work into a well-resourced hub. It organizes its strategic activities around four key thematic areas where the circular economy has the greatest potential – electronics and capital equipment, plastics, fashion and textiles, and food and agriculture. PACE has also established a dedicated workstream that addresses cross-cutting system challenges that can unlock scale, including meaningful metrics, business models, innovation (such as the World Economic Forum’s Scale 360 initiative) and regional networks (such as the African Circular Economy Alliance and Latin-American & Caribbean Circular Economy Coalition).

In working with international organizations, including the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the Ellen McArthur Foundation, PACE is underscoring the importance of moving towards a common set of metrics to accurately measure global progress towards the circular economy. While these initiatives focus on company metrics, PACE supports Circle Economy’s annual Circularity Gap report as a key measure of global and regional progress.

Our global resource footprint
Our global resource footprint
Image: Circularity Gap Report 2020

The need for strengthened metrics and natural resource targets to accelerate innovation and more effectively track progress towards a circular economy is emphasized in a joint paper from the International Resource Panel, the World Economic Forum and PACE published earlier this year.

Based on insights from the PACE community and relevant external stakeholders, we have defined the key topics to focus on within the four strategic themes outlined above with the aim of scaling PACE’s global impact. For 2020, we are driving forward a number of key initiatives, including the following:

· The PACE Capital Equipment Coalition will publish a new learning document, including a new transparent reporting mechanism, to help scale up equipment take-back and recycling/repurposing programmes. The Coalition is also looking to expand by adding a new group of companies based out of North America.

· PACE will continue to build on its 2019 work and establish a blended finance Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) to handle e-waste in Nigeria as part of an extended producer responsibility (EPR) system, funded in part by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Environment Programme. Testing this system will allow PACE to scale up EPR systems in other countries across the African continent, achieving scale and impact.

· In alignment with PACE’s affiliate initiative, the Global Plastic Action Partnership, national and municipal action plans will be created through funding from the GEF, multilateral development bank investment and bilateral government support.

Circular economy

What is a circular economy?

The global population is expected to reach close to 9 billion people by 2030 – inclusive of 3 billion new middle-class consumers.This places unprecedented pressure on natural resources to meet future consumer demand.

A circular economy is an industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design. It replaces the end-of-life concept with restoration, shifts towards the use of renewable energy, eliminates the use of toxic chemicals and aims for the elimination of waste through the superior design of materials, products, systems and business models.

Nothing that is made in a circular economy becomes waste, moving away from our current linear ‘take-make-dispose’ economy. The circular economy’s potential for innovation, job creation and economic development is huge: estimates indicate a trillion-dollar opportunity.

The World Economic Forum has collaborated with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation for a number of years to accelerate the Circular Economy transition through Project MainStream – a CEO-led initiative that helps to scale business driven circular economy innovations.

Join our project, part of the World Economic Forum’s Shaping the Future of Environment and Natural Resource Security System Initiative, by contacting us to become a member or partner.

Join in and scale up. Make business-as-usual a thing of the past.

None of this will happen without people – thought leaders, business leaders, politicians, policy-makers, innovators, entrepreneurs and NGO staff with the vision, commitment and determination to make sure we use the world’s natural resources in sustainable and climate-friendly ways. PACE is already a formidable force for change, but we urgently need to harmonize existing efforts and scale up best-practice circular economy solutions to make a truly global impact. We encourage you to join PACE in replacing the business-as-usual model that threatens our very existence on the planet with circular solutions that offer real hope and prosperity for the future.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Climate change update: consistent global actions urgently needed as we are running out of time

“The Sea is vast as it admits all rivers”, Ambassador Yang Yanyi of the Chinese Mission to EU gives her farewell address in Brussels

Cyber-Risk Assessments: the vaccine for companies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Trump badly cornered at home by agribusiness and steel consumer lobbies: Trade

Security Council discusses chemical weapons use in Syria following latest global watchdog report

Political solutions ‘prerequisite to sustainable peace’, Lacroix tells Security Council

Rule of law in Hungary: Parliament should ask Council to act, say committee MEPs

UN celebrates books as ‘bridges across cultures’

This app uses augmented reality to rewrite ‘herstory’

Business leaders join UN to rev up sustainable development investments

OECD employment rate increases to 68.2% in the first quarter of 2018

European Commission statement on the adoption of the new energy lending policy of the European Investment Bank Group

New York’s rooftop farms provide fresh local produce – and help stop a sewage problem

‘Informing is not a crime’ UN chief calls for better protection of journalists, press freedom

Ebola: EU releases additional €3.5 million to tackle epidemic

‘Eco-shaming’ is on the rise, but does it work?

Asian and Pacific economies: decreases in tax revenue highlight need to broaden tax bases

Do we really understand the value of independent journalism?

In New Zealand it takes less than a day to start a business

Why Opportunity Zones could be key to transforming our cities

UN refugee agency presses States to aid 49 refugees stranded on Mediterranean

Q and A: This is how stakeholder capitalism can help heal the planet

GSMA Announces First Keynote Speakers for 2019 “MWC Los Angeles, in Partnership with CTIA”

ECB with an iron hand disciplines the smaller Eurozone member states; latest victim: Greece

The Eurogroup+ is born to govern the EU Banking Union

These are the next big products in consumer technology

Veteran public official from Portugal elected to lead UN migration agency

Some Prevailing Arguments and Perceptions over the South China Sea Issue Are Simply Wrong

Daughter of 2019 Sakharov Prize winner Ilham Tohti receives prize on his behalf

Strengthen inclusion, participation of people with autism to ‘achieve their full potential’ says UN chief

How personalized care can tackle the late-life loneliness epidemic

GSMA announces new keynote speakers for 2018 Mobile World Congress

Scientists are growing meat on blades of grass

North Korean families facing deep ‘hunger crisis’ after worst harvest in 10 years, UN food assessment shows

A 3-step path to securing critical infrastructure

These are the benefits of learning a second language

Opening – EP remembers Nelson Mandela and mourns attacks on Roma in Ukraine

Half of Eurozone in deflation expecting salvation from monetary measures

The Commission breathless behind the horsemeat scandal

How the EU crisis hit countries saved the German and French mega-banks from bankruptcy and still pay the costs

There are more than 1 billion guns in the world and this is who owns them

A brief history of cryptography and why it matters

Countries urged to make ‘digital world’ safer for children

Financial services: Commission sets out its equivalence policy with non-EU countries

There is a forgotten solution to climate change that we must invest in – nature

Japan should reform retirement policies to meet challenge of ageing workforce

‘Refrain from violence’ UN chief urges, as presidential election result is announced in DR Congo

The new European Union of banks is ready

Khashoggi murder trials must public and meet international standards, UN expert urges

This is the world’s greenest football club – and you’ve probably never even heard of it

Alexis Tsipras against internal and external “enemies” in pursue of a two-phase deal now

Reject passivity and embrace ‘responsibility for our future,’ Lithuania’s President tells UN Assembly

EU citizens disenchanted with Economic and Monetary Union over rising poverty and high unemployment

EU Ombudsman must continue push for more transparency in Council and Commission

EU budget: Reinforcing Europe’s cultural and creative sectors

Safer roads: EU lawmakers agree on life-saving technologies for new vehicles

Brexit: new European Parliament reaffirms wholehearted support for EU position

An Easter Special: Social protection of migrants in Europe as seen through the eyes of European youth

Dual Food Quality: Commission releases study assessing differences in the composition of EU food products

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s