The Circular Hotspots of the world: Catalysing the circular transition

October 01, 2020

Together with Holland Circular Hotspot, the Nordic Circular Hotspot co-hosted a virtual WCEFonline Side Event on September 30. ‘The Circular Hotspots of the World: Catalysing the circular transition’ brought together a dozen leading experts from Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia Pacific to talk about the state of play (and future) of the circular economy in different parts of the world. They convened to explore ways on how the circular economy will bring a new economic, social and ecological balance.



The Circular Hotspots of the world: Catalysing the circular transition

What is needed to accelerate the transition from our broken linear model to a circular economy in every part of the world? And what role do hotspots, initiatives and hubs play as catalysts for circular change?

“The circular economy is not a destination, it is a journey,” says Bezawit Gizaw, Ethiopia Representative, African Circular Economy Network (ACEN). “On this journey, if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together. In African and other emerging regions, the transition to a circular economy requires a different approach than in the West.”

“Every country has its own distinct circular economy journey, yet we all still share a common vision and shared values,” says Ladeja Godina Košir, founder and Executive Director, Circular Change, Institute for Circular Economy, Slovenia. “Only by listening to and learning from each other can we move forward to achieve an inclusive, circular future.”

Some of the key insights and future forecasts from the participating circular hotspots, initiatives and hubs include:

  • The need to go beyond raising awareness and experimentation: the next step is scaling up as well as circular economy mainstreaming in policy-making, business and society.
  • A continued shift in the regulatory focus on waste management to the circular economy and an urgent need for a set of interventions aimed at removing barriers and advancing the transition to a circular economy.
  • Establish national actors in each country of the world to promote the circular economy, provide a platform for learning and knowledge exchange, and bring actors together and scale-up initiatives.
  • National circularity ambitions can only be achieved through international collaboration.
  • Circular frontrunners will have the biggest market opportunities.
  • The circular transition needs to be fair and inclusive.
  • Cities will be the place of action. There is a need for setting-up value-chain initiatives as well as getting local communities, cities and local governments involved in the circular transition and circular procurement.
  • A move from the linear understanding of value chains to a circular perspective of value- creating networks is needed. To achieve full circularity, the whole value chain needs to be redefined and redesigned.
  • A circular economy transition is 20 per cent about technical innovation and 80 per cent social innovation.

Additional insight from the event:


Examples of international collaboration, inspiration and cross-pollination

Australia is taking its first steps towards a climate-neutral, circular economy, which is good for jobs and prosperity. “Australia, a very big island that is in the midst of a waste crisis, has a lot to learn from Taiwan, a small island,” says Steve Morriss, Head of Circular Economy Development, Planet Ark Environmental Foundation, which is building the Australian Circular Economy Hub (ACE Hub). “Taiwanese companies are already starting to collaborate with Australia,” says Shadow Chen, CEO, Circular Taiwan Network. “Taiwan is uniquely positioned for the circular economy as we have a solid foundation in manufacturing, service and recycling industries. We strongly believe that Taiwan can take the circularity lead in the wider region.”

Another example is Brazil, where the international debate on the circular economy has proven to be essential for the Brazilian transition. “The Brazilian circular journey has been a rollercoaster over the past five years,” says Beatrice Luz, founder and Executive Director, Exchange 4 Change Brasil and founder, Brazilian Circular Economy. “The international circular knowledge exchange between Brazil and Slovenia, which is 420 times smaller than my country, has been crucial. Brazilian industry needs to move away from taking a reactive to a pro-active stance.”


Regional circular collaboration

The Nordic Circular Hotspot was launched during the World Circular Economy Forum in Helsinki in June last year and is at present run by eleven Managing Partners from four Nordic countries plus The Netherlands. “We truly believe a collaborative approach is very relevant and needed in the Nordics,” says Dr. Katherine Whalen, Managing Partner, Nordic Circular Hotspot. “As a regional hotspot, we have a key role to put the circular economy into practice. The Nordic countries need to work more closely together and promote cross-border synergies.”


Want to learn more?

Both webinar sessions were recorded and you are most welcome to download the entire PDF presentation with valuable insights, experiences and knowledge on the circular economy.