10 November 2022, Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt - The PAGE and UN partners' side event at the COP27, on November 9, discussed how circular economy principles and practices can serve as a catalyst to promoting human well-being, preserving nature, cutting pollution, and making economies more competitive. By bringing together representatives of governments, UN agencies, the private sector, think tanks and youth, the event explored the enabling factors for accelerating the global shift towards the circular economy, within the context of just, inclusive, and sustainable development.
“We also need to look not only at how we power the system […] but also how we run the system, so how we produce and how we consume. […] we need to think to move from a linear system where we take, make and waste to a circular system” said Miranda Schnitger, Climate Lead at the MacArthur Foundation who moderated the session.
The discussion included Mr Gerd Mueller, Director General UNIDO; the H.E. Dr Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, Minister for Environment, Republic of Rwanda; HRH. Ms Mashael bint Saud AlShalan, Co-Founder, Aeon Collective, Kingdom Saudi Arabia; Dr Medrilzam, Director of Environmental Affairs, Ministry of National Development Planning, Indonesia; Mr Xuan Zihan, YOUNGO Cities and Green Jobs Working Groups representative and Mr Robert Marinkovic, Adviser, Climate Change, IOE. Ms Miranda Schnitger, Climate Lead, Ellen MacArthur Foundation acted as the moderator.
Mr Gerd Mueller, Director General of UNIDO opened the event with a keynote in which he also pointed out the multidisciplinary nature of the circular economy. “Addressing the climate challenge presents a golden opportunity to promote prosperity, security and a brighter future for all. Climate action can bring more than USD 26 trillion in economic benefits by 2030. 65 million new green jobs could also be created through our efforts”, he said.
In the opening of the panel, the minister of Environment Dr Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya shared barriers and actions related to the circular economy in Rwanda. For instance, the ban on plastic bags has unveiled the potential of a circular economy. “We make sure that no waste is wasted. Everything is used, re-used and repaired because it creates green jobs”, said the minister whose country will host the next World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF) in December.
In the panel discussion, the participants declared that transitioning from a linear to a circular economy requires a coordinated effort to leverage systemic action across government, the private sector, and civil society.
“Circular Economy is a global challenge, one that requires clarity, inclusion and consistency […] we need to rise to the responsibility to tackle these complex triple threats”, said HRH. Ms Mashael bint Saud AlShalan, Co-Founder of Aeon Collective, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Commenting on the implementation of the circular economy in Indonesia, Dr Medrilzam, Director of Environmental Affairs at the Ministry of National Development Planning of Indonesia, highlighted that “there are many aspects that we are implementing to push the circular economy, but certainly collaboration is key. We believe that it can strengthen the implementation of circular economy”. Indonesia aims goal to become a fully circular economy in the coming years.
There are many aspects that we are implementing to push the circular economy, but certainly collaboration is key. We believe that it can strengthen the implementation of circular economy”, said Dr. Medrilzam, Director of Environmental Affairs at ministry of National Development Planning of Indonesia.
Xuan Zihan brought the youth perspective into the discussion. He highlighted political and societal shifts that young need when it comes to the circular economy. This includes reskilling young professionals, providing education on the circular economy in schools and supporting young innovators. Robert Marinkovic believes that all the elements to implement a circular economy exist. “With the circular economy we have many good examples that we can push further and scale. […] We need to intensify our efforts and work together”. He also mentioned the importance of standards and clear objectives for the private sector as well as stronger monitoring of policy implementation.
In the closing remarks, Ms Olga Algayerova Executive Secretary of UNECE stressed that “We need to accelerate, and we need take action” and indicated that mindsets must change and that policies, standards, guidelines, as well as frameworks, are strong tools to promote circularity.
Other thematic areas such as financing, policy incentives, investment, capacity building, knowledge sharing, traceability, and education on circular economy drove the discussion amongst the panellists.
The COPs are the biggest and most important annual climate-related conferences on the planet. This year marks the 27th annual summit. The previous COP was held in Glasgow.
PAGE brings together the expertise of five UN agencies UNEP, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNDP, and ILO. Currently, 22 countries joined PAGE, including Indonesia and Rwanda which were represented in the panel discussion.
This COP27 side-event was organized by UNITAR, PAGE, UNIDO, GGKP, UNECE, ESCWA, and UNOHRLLS.