WCERE session urges new policy measures to promote circular economy
As part of the 6th World Congress of Environmental and Resource Economists (WCERE) held in Gothenburg on 25-29 June, Green Budget Europe (GBE) and the Finnish Innovation Fund (Sitra) organised a policy session on Best practices and policy requirements to achieve circular economy objectives.
The session, which was chaired by Janez Potocnik (Co-chair of UNEP International Resource Panel and former EU Commissioner for Environment), began with Aldo Ravazzi-Douvan (Chief Economist of the Italian Ministry of Environment, and President of GBE) presenting an overview of the potential and use of market-based instruments at international level to enhance environmental sustainability. After him, Professor Paul Ekins (Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy and Director of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources) provided an outlook on current experiences and main challenges in introducing circular economy measures in Europe.
Susanne Åkerfeldt (Senior Advisor of the Ministry of Finance of Sweden) discussed Swedish experiences in promoting circular economy objectives. Likewise, Matti Kahra (Leading specialist on circular economy at the Finnish Innovation Fund) introduced the extensive work that Sitra has done so far in Finland in the field of circular economy. Finally, Sarianne Tikkanen (Project manager at Green Budget Europe) presented preliminary results from GBE’s project, which aims to provide recommendations on best practices that could be introduced in the Finnish context to promote circular economy objectives.
In the presentations, Mr Ravazzi-Douvan stressed the role of economic instruments to promote decoupling of economic growth and environmental degradation. Professor Ekins pointed out the need to keep resources in use as long as possible, and to recover and regenerate products to the extent necessary. “Current practices are far from economically and environmentally viable. Enormous improvements can be made, but they require appropriate policy measures to take place,” he stated.
The presentations were followed by a panel discussion and a lively debate with the audience.
At the end of the session, Eero Yrjö-Koskinen (Director of Green Budget Europe), summarised the main conclusions raised at the event. He stressed the importance of collaboration between EU Member States to exchange and disseminate national experiences of best practices on the one hand and mistakes to be avoided on the other. Furthermore, he suggested that this cooperation should be extended to international organisations, such as OECD and the International Resource Panel, that have extensive expertise in the field and can help in the implementation of circular economy objectives in practice.
Photo: Panelists at the WCERE policy session on circular economy (from left to right): Paul Ekins, Sarianne Tikkanen, Aldo Ravazzi-Douvan, Matti Kahra and Susanne Åkerfeldt.