WCEF2022 - Circular Economy for Climate and Nature
The World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF) 2022 took place from December 6th to 8th in Kigali, Rwanda. The three days saw a host of sessions on various topics around circular economy (CE). On December 6th, which was the first day, the discussion topics ranged from CE for climate and nature, trade and value chains, and circular cities shaping the future. The session on “Circular Economy for Climate and Nature” counted the participation of 7 speakers along with 1 moderator, Wanjira Mathai (Managing Director for Africa and Global Partnerships, World Resources Institute). The speakers engaged in different discussions based on the topic of each of the sub-sessions.
The first sub-session was a dialogue on the takeaways for Africa from COP27, which took place from November 6th to 18th 2022 in Egypt. Panellists Adriana Zacarias Farah (Senior Programme Manager, Head of GO4SDGs, Deputy Head of 10YFP Secretariat, United Nations Environment Programme) and Davinah Milenge (Principal Programme Coordinator, African Development Bank) shared their highlights from this year’s COP27. They spoke about climate adaptation as being the most cost-effective approach and that investing in CE is also about adaptation. Since 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) come from food systems – involving manufacturing, processing, transportation, retail and food waste - this is a key area in which climate and circularity are interconnected.
They also highlighted how we must think about nutrition and food insecurity, another area where we must adopt a circular approach within food systems. Adaptation is the most important word for the coming years in the context of circularity. The panellists also highlighted how the past COP27 was an African one, not in terms of location but because of the key issues discussed during the event. The two panellists argued how we need solutions to find an open door for smaller businesses and the grassroots and youth entrepreneurs who want CE initiatives to be less donor-funded and more shareholder-funded. They stressed the fact that we have a limited time to tackle climate change. This closing window means that CE has a real chance of being increasingly implemented in diverse sectors and creating long-lasting sustainable change. By focusing CE efforts on sectors such as construction, food, electronics, and mobility their carbon footprints can be reduced by 50%.
The second sub-session saw the participation of Kari Herlevi (Head of the Global Collaboration Unit for Sustainability Solutions, The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra) and Maxwell Gomera (Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme UNDP). The session was a dialogue on CE as a tool for adaptation and biodiversity in the African context. Amongst other factors, the panellists mentioned that we need sufficient resources for continued production as well as CE approaches for environmental solutions. The development choices we make now are important for the future of developing countries. In that context, what's important is how we can finance needed technological solutions and ensure that these are available and easily accessible. For this to happen it is paramount that we have a common reference point on what the most pressing issues at hand are.
The panellists stressed the fact that farmers, who are simply trying to make a living, are not being unreasonable when they demand changes in food policies. The transformations already happening in the food sector around the world are increasing and by adopting a CE we can safeguard the hopes and dreams of generations to come.
The closing remarks of the event were given by Her Excellency Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya (Minister of Environment, Ministry of Environment, Rwanda). She stressed the importance of having conversations around CE. She argued that in all corners of the world we have a diverse ecosystem. The degradation of natural resources is detrimental to worldwide well-being. To counter the unthinkable scenarios we must adapt CE in policies and strategies. We have a unique opportunity to apply the advancements and decisions achieved in COP27 through CE efforts. She also added that by pairing CE with climate action and circular solutions, there is a huge potential for green job creation. She called for all stakeholders to work together and be at the table to make evidence-based decisions towards a more circular economy as well as ensure collaboration across borders.