On the occasion of the Green Week 2014 conference “Circular economy – saving resources, creating jobs”, organised by the European Commission’s Directorate General for the Environment
The global economic model needs an overhaul. Current linear production and consumption patterns, in which products are used for a short time and then discarded, result in massive waste. At the same time, a rising world population, the emergence of a global middle-class (set to reach 5 billion by 2020 according to some estimates) and emerging economies’ quest for prosperity are increasing pressure on the environment and on natural resources. Breaking the vicious circle requires the adoption of a “closed-loop” thinking, which decouples economic growth from resource consumption by encouraging reusing, remanufacturing and recycling. Such an approach could bring important benefits as regards cost-saving, job creation, innovation, productivity and resource efficiency in both developed and developing countries. Translating the circular economy concept into practice requires however business leadership, smart regulation, international cooperation and spreading best practices.
How should the private and public sectors be working together to move to the circular model of economic growth? What measures and incentives at international, national, local levels have proven most successful in encouraging the transition and in unlocking investment and innovation? What are the best examples of product redesign, transformation of waste into resource and company-to-company cooperation? Which barriers are blocking the scaling up of circular economy practices worldwide and what support do developing countries need to adopt a less resource-intensive model of development? Can the new model be a win-win solution to stimulate economic growth and competitiveness while protecting the environment?
Natural Resources Specialist at the European Investment Bank (EIB)
Director of Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP), Germany
Vice President for Strategic Environmental Planning at Renault-Nissan Alliance
Director of the Department of Social Development Research at the Development Research Centre of the State Council of China
Valdemar De Oliveira
Impact Business Director for the Latin American foundation ‘Fundación Avina', Brazil
President of the European Alliance to Save Energy, former co-president of the European Green Party, former member of the European Parliament and Trustee of Friends of Europe
Jane Feehan is a natural resource management specialist with expertise in sustainable land use, the challenges of meeting future basic resource needs in an increasingly resource-constrained world, and in meeting the investment needs that arise from this. She previously worked for the European Environment Agency, the Irish Environmental Protection Agency and the European Commission Directorate General for the Environment.
Michael Kuhndt has more than 15 years of project development experience in the fields of international cooperation, development and sustainability. He is currently Director of CSCP, an international institution jointly founded by the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to provide scientific research and knowledge transfer on sustainable consumption and production patterns. It supports development, implementation and monitoring of concrete projects and programmes, in particular in developing countries.
Since joining Renault in 1996, Jean-Philippe Hermine has led the environmental audits during the corporate restructuring and coordinated the implementation of Renault’s recycling policy and the creation of innovative and strategic partnerships on materials recycling and recovery. As Vice President for the Renault Group and CEO of Renault Environment he is now in charge of Strategic Environmental Planning and responsible of the implementation of circular economy practices in the company.
Zhou Hongchun is an internationally recognised and rewarded expert in sustainable development, circular economy, low carbon economy, natural resources utility and environmental protection, and author of many books. He works as a Professor and Director at the Development Research Centre of (DRC), a leading policy research and consulting institution directly under the State Council, the central government of the People’s Republic of China.
Valdemar de Oliveira created and for many years headed the international recycling program at Fundacion Avina, a leading international organization encouraging alliances between social, political and business leaders to contribute to sustainable development in Latin America. He is now Avina’s Impact Business Director, as well as Chief Executive Officer of World Transforming Technologies, a sister organization investing in technology-based solutions for the poor and the environment.
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