How can a circular economy present new opportunities to create wealth and support sustainable development? This was the theme of The World Circular Economy Forum 2017 (WCEF2017) that took place from 5-7 June 2017, in Helsinki, Finland and in which the Center for Collaborative Learning about Sustainable Development participated.
The WCEF meeting brought together a total of 1,500 participants from over 100 countries many of whom were convinced that a circular economy could deliver benefits across all sectors of business and society.
WCEF2017 featured 17 plenary and parallel sessions showcasing circular economy solutions for business, cities and finance. A wide variety of topics were addressed, including: integrating the circular economy into the 2030 Agenda; innovation challenges for the circular economy; circular cities; economic research on the circular economy; and financing the circular economy.
Meetings were held using innovative formats, including a game show, talk shows and “table talks.” Workshops and side events were also on the agenda, as well as organized networking opportunities such as a Marketplace with 24 selected exhibitors, an Opportunities Stage for short pitches, and “lakeside chats.”
A BRIEF HISTORY OF CIRCULAR ECONOMY
(from the IISD Reporting Services Report on the WCEF)
The world economy currently totals an estimated US$80 trillion–a figure that has doubled since the turn of the 21st century. The world population increased nearly four-fold in the 20th century and is expected to grow by another 50% to around 11 billion people by the year 2100. Against this background, the current economic model of ever-increasing production and consumption and acute patterns of unequal distribution are already presenting substantial challenges. These include scarcity of and unequal access to natural resources and energy, as well as environmental, social and geopolitical concerns.
In response, the concept of “circular economy” has been coined to provide an alternative model based on entirely different principles. Rather than using up natural resources and disposing of products when they are damaged or no longer needed, a circular economy maximizes the use of materials and retains their value for as long as possible. A circular economy is based on the use of services and intelligent digital solutions, and the design and production of more durable, repairable, reusable and recyclable products. Waste is regarded as a valuable resource. Products are shared, leased or rented, rather than owned by an end user.