- Aasavari Joshi
WCEF2022 - Partnerships for a Global Circular Economy
Day 2 of the World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF) 2022, which took place from December 6th to 8th 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda, explored how nations can create effective and cogent circular economy policies as well as increase regional and global collaboration through partnerships. The importance of partnership platforms in fostering more regional and international cooperation and aiding nations in the creation of successful circular economy policies was addressed in the session on “Partnerships for a global circular economy”, which took place from 9:15 to 10:30 CAT on December 7th. It explored how partnerships facilitate policy discourse, peer-to-peer learning, innovation, and information sharing to support a global and equitable transition to a circular economy. The session was moderated by Amelia Kuch (Policy Insights Manager, Ellen Macarthur Foundation) and was organised by GACERE, UN Environment Programme, and UNIDO.
The speakers of the first panel on “The role of global and regional alliances in the development of national circular economy policies” included Hyacinth Mboh (Director of Standards and Control, Ministry of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development, Cameroon), Kgauta Sylvester Mokoena (Chief Director, Chemicals and Waste Policy Specialist Monitoring Services - Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, South Africa), Gaëtan Ducroux (International Policy Officer, Africa and South Asia, European Commission, DG Environment), Beatrice Cyiza (Director General of Environment and Climate Change, Ministry of Environment, Rwanda), Maisa Rojas (Minister of Environment, Ministry of Environment, Chile), Dilshod Sharifi (Head of the International Economic Cooperation Department, Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of the Republic of Tajikistan), and Ha Tran (Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Vietnam).
The first panel consisted of a detailed discussion of the upcoming developments of global and regional circular economy (CE) alliances and how one can begin to apply all the policy changes agreed upon within these alliances. For example, Cameroon committed to CE in 2016 by organising a first world forum that brought together academia and regional authorities to exchange views on CE and mitigate harmful impacts on the environment. The local authorities want to promote CE in networks which will help Cameroon achieve a more efficient CE and are supporting the development of the nation’s CE food roadmap.
In the past 2-3 years there has been momentum in CE in the context of many African countries joining the African CE alliance and working towards adopting CE in a holistic approach. Rwanda is one of the founding members of the African CE alliance. From the country’s perspective, collaboration is key to expanding CE at a regional as well as a national level. The African CE alliance has come up with 5 initiatives to support circularity and job creation. These are -
The alliance seeks to bring all African country members together and is trying to lead by example by creating policies and incentives for businesses that will help them embrace circularity. The alliance offers members many opportunities and enables them to transition to CE with the help of best practices and mutual learning.
The panel discussion highlighted the identification of a few sectors causing a large carbon footprint. There is ongoing work being made to make the plastics, textiles, and electronics sectors more circular. The food sector, in particular, has seen global efforts within the African CE alliance to unite the industry at a national level. An annual action plan has been established by the alliance that highlights different activities to be completed. These are based on the alliance’s legal framework for CE that supports the application of policies. The panel speakers, however, agreed that we need more financing and support to continue to make African countries more circular.
The second panel on “Public-private partnerships as enablers for a successful transition to a global circular economy” saw the participation of Karin Boomsma (Director, Sustainable Inclusive Business, KEPSA), Ramona Liberoff (Executive Director, Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy PACE), and Israel Olagunju (Research and Operations Supervisor, Hinckley E-Waste Recycling). The panel discussed the shift that has happened over the last 5 years in which CE-related conversations were started but were not put into practice. In Kenya, the government and the private sector know that without each other they can’t make the change and progress that is needed. It's important to design solutions that work for everyone. However, in Kenya, there aren't enough resources to implement such solutions and, thus, new facilities and increased collaboration are needed.
The panel further highlighted that the shift towards CE requires a multi-stakeholder approach including the cooperation between brand owners, producers, manufacturers, and recyclers. The speakers highlighted 4 main targets relating to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) within the plastics sector that must be aligned with country-specific national policies:
Eliminate unnecessary plastics and ban single-use plastics.
All plastics being used should be reusable or recyclable. Designing guidelines for recyclability and uniformity will further support recyclers in plastic waste management.
By 2030, 40% of plastics should be recyclable (the current value lies at 9%).
15% of recycled content should be used to make the same item it was used for before to reduce the demand for virgin materials.
The panel also addressed a pressing question on waste management from a Nigerian perspective. According to studies, 250 000 tons of electronic waste are found in Nigeria and only two formal recyclers are recognised by the government. Most of the waste ends up in landfills. One challenge experienced by recyclers is that larger recycling facilities as well as equipment such as cooling systems, lamps, and IT equipment are needed to enable the appropriate recycling of electronic waste.
The session concluded with closing remarks by Her Excellency Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya (Minister of Environment, Ministry of Environment, Rwanda). She stressed that CE can help our society and environment. We know that the challenges cannot be solved individually. That is why partnerships and collaboration are of utmost importance. She underlined that no single country or company can make the transition alone. That said, the interdependent nature of value chains means that any action taken has a global as well as local effect. She concluded that “the session aimed at promoting CE with cooperation between the public and private sector. We learnt that we need to work collaboratively. The African alliance gives us the opportunity to support the transition to CE by sharing ideas, starting conversations, and taking action. We need a strong partnership to apply such solutions”.