“If you think you are leading in the circular economy but no one is following, then you are just taking a walk by yourself,” warned Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director, European Environment Agency, at the WCEF2019 closing session.
The second and final day of the 2019 World Circular Economy Forum opened with the session “International Trade of Circular Economy Goods and Services,” highlighting interlinkages between trade and the circular economy. Panelists recommended avoiding trade barriers; eliminating perverse subsidies; and using existing trade policies to enhance the circular economy, noting the success of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal to strengthen the regulation of trade in plastic waste. They also discussed the potential role of the World Trade Organisation and recommended engaging trade ministries in the discussions on circular economy.
Several parallel sessions took place throughout the day, including on the themes related to: circular bioeconomy and plastics; metrics and fair use of data for circularity; education; business investments; circular economy for water; carbon neutral industry; and circularity in people’s daily lives.
Key highlights of the day include:
free and fair trade is a pre-condition to accelerate a circular economy in particular for smaller economies;
the necessary metrics for measuring circular economy are not yet in place and need to be developed;
materials will play an important role in carbon-neutral industrial transformation in line with the Paris Agreement’s goals;
identifying and addressing real-life barriers to scaling up is crucial to promote circularity holistically;
technological solutions exist to ensure plastic never becomes waste, and these must be scaled up;
the role of consumers as agents for change is important;
an interdisciplinary perspective and lifelong personal education about circularity are often overlooked dimensions;
bringing positive messages about circularity, instead of the “doom scenario” of environmental degradation, has greater chances to drive change.
The WCEF2019 closing plenary concluded with key messages from the event, with speakers calling for fairer consumption patterns; community empowerment; and enabling environments for scaling up the transition towards a circular economy “for all.”
During the final key messages during the closing panel discussion, Kimmo Tiilikainen, Minister of the Environment, Finland, emphasized the need to act now. Vincent Biruta, Minister of the Environment, Rwanda, called for the participants to be leaders in driving the circular economy. Secretary General Paula Lehtomäki, Nordic Council of Ministers, urged participants “to do something that takes us to the right direction.”
In her closing remarks, Director Mari Pantsar, Sitra, praised the energetic engagement of all participants, inviting them to continue this conversation at the next WCEF, which will take place in Canada in 2020.
IISD Reporting Services, through its ENB+ Meeting Coverage, provided daily web updates from WCEF2019. In addition, IISD Reporting Services has published a summary report from the meeting, which is available in HTML and PDF.
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Specific funding for IISD Reporting Services coverage of WCEF2019 has been provided by the Sitra