• Davide Bonesi

CE in COP27 Series - Accelerating Circularity as a Holistic Response to the Triple Planetary Crisis

The circular economy is a key factor in the green transition. Looking at the zero-waste solution as an aim, recycling is not enough. However, the efforts of the world economy towards sustainable progress are now in danger, as we face a triple planetary crisis. The latter is a context of mounting debt levels, food hazards, and energy breakdowns that is shifting the goals of economic plans to meet the short-term needs of the people.

In order to address this triple hazard, representatives of governments, UN agencies, the private sector, think tanks and youth discussed the importance of accelerating a circular economy transition in a high-level United Nations side event at COP27 titled “Accelerating Circularity as a Holistic Response to the Triple Planetary Crisis: The Economic Case”, which took place on the 9th of November from 11:30 to 13:00 CET. The event aimed at addressing different strategies and principles to accelerate the global shift towards a circular economy. Miranda Schnitger, Climate Lead at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, opened the panel discussion by stating that "we really also need to look not only at how we power the system…but also how we run the system, so how we produce and how we consume.” Thus, circularity can reshape our economies by constructively managing the different outputs of production while improving the inputs. In order to achieve these goals, the clue is shifting from a linear productive system to a circular one, aimed at eliminating waste, regenerating natural systems, and integrating circularity in every product.

As Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, Minister for Environment of the Republic of Rwanda, shared in her contribution, “circularity is something Rwanda already has in its culture." For instance, household re-using behaviors let us think that circularity is embedded in people’s values. Given the proclivity of single behaviors for circularity, the question is how to enable it as a system. Here, all the speakers agreed that collaboration is fundamental, and that it has to be found not only across a firm’s departments, but between entire economies.

Only by connecting the different agents in society is it possible to reach a higher target for green jobs. In this regard, panelists shared how important it is to create new skills through the education of younger generations, and update the existing skills. Therefore, the creation of green jobs is only one of the possible links between the green transition and economic growth. In fact, “addressing the climate challenge presents a golden opportunity… Climate action can bring more than US$26 trillion in economic benefits by 2030”, stated Gerd Müller, Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

Increasing the inclusion of circularity in our economies is critical to meeting our global population goals. The need to accelerate is frequently associated with the need to act, and collaboration can be an enabling factor for both. Through its principles and strategies, the circular economy contributes to decoupling the existing link between economic growth and CO2 emissions.

Watch out for our next news piece in the Circular Economy in COP27 Series, where we will dive deeper into the discussions on circular economy during COP27.