• Sophia Vlieger de Oliveira

WCEF Side Event 2022 - Advancing Discussions on Circular Economy Policies and Legislations


In anticipation of the World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF) 2022 main event scheduled to take place from the 6th to the 8th of December in Kigali, Rwanda, Circular Innovation Lab and Chatham House jointly hosted a WCEF side event on the 21st of July 2022. Under the topic ‘Circular Economy Policies and Legislation: Experiences from Emerging Economies’ the online event hosted insightful discussions on the need for circular economy policies and legislation in emerging economies and the challenges as well as benefits of implementing them. The event counted with the presence of over 200 attendees, 12 speakers from different national governments, and 5 speakers from international think tanks and institutions.

The event was organized into three panel sessions. Since the WCEF 2022 main event will take place in Africa and will focus on emerging economies, this side event began with a session exclusively on Africa. Government representatives from Senegal, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, South Africa, Zambia, and Trinidad and Tobago presented their experiences and challenges in implementing circular economy policies and legislation in their countries. The main common barriers were related to a lack of infrastructure, financing, as well as knowledge and technology transfer. If such aspects were improved they would facilitate the implementation of circular economy policies across multiple sectors in these economies. A further interesting insight was the challenge that many products are imported into these countries which are produced in other countries. This makes the control over producers’ responsibility as well as the generated waste difficult. A continent-wide standardization of rules would help tackle this issue.

The second session advanced the discussion towards the developments in Latin America, East Asia as well as Eastern Europe. Policymakers and government representatives from Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Georgia reflected on their own country’s experiences and challenges. They agreed that making producers responsible for the impact of their products is an essential action in addition to providing appropriate incentives to entice industries to incorporate circular economy practices. The panel session also counted with the participation of a representative from the Japan International Cooperation Agency who shared Japan’s experience in sharing its expertise on circular economy policies and legislation with emerging economies.

The event concluded with a valuable discussion between representatives from UNEP, UNCTAD, the Ellen McArthur Foundation, and the African Circular Economy Network on their contribution to promoting circular economy policies and the key role that international institutions play in supporting emerging economies in their transition towards a circular economy. The speakers stressed the importance of collaboration between national and international actors to enable the transition to a circular economy. They reinforced that a circular economy is the key to solving environmental issues such as greenhouse gas emissions, food waste, and the degradation of ecosystems, amongst others.

These valuable discussions offer a detailed and in-depth understanding of the successes and challenges faced not only by larger international organizations but also by national actors. The move towards a circular economy must be facilitated by removing the barriers currently faced by emerging economies and supporting them in implementing effective policies and legislations.

Click here to watch the full recording of the event and discover all the shared insights.