Circular society – transitioning jobs & skills
A circular economy is about consuming and using differently, with a much greater focus on the life cycle of products, to reduce consumption of raw materials. This will lead to changes in the value chains of products, with implications for jobs and skills in various sectors. In some sectors, we are likely to experience job losses. At the same time, vital work streams in the circular economy related to product design, repair, reuse and recycling which are all labour intensive will become more prominent providing job gains at all skills levels. To sustain a process towards a more circular economy, shifting the current tax burden from labour to resources will be important and require courageous political decisions.
A move away from a consumption model based on take, make, dispose to one that is based on using rather than owning, for example via collaborative consumption networks and sharing models, can also have positive benefits for the social cohesion in neighbourhoods and local communities.
MODERATOR: Karl Falkenberg
Circular partnerships – breaking silos, creating communities
Transition to a circular economy requires the involvement of all sectors of society – citizens, civil society, entrepreneurs, business, financial institutions, all strands and levels of government. At European level, the Commission has set up a multi-stakeholder platform, bringing together the EU level umbrella organisations of the relevant stakeholders, to support the process of implementing the circular economy package. Citizens have a vital role to play as consumers and users of products and services. Citizens at times embrace consumption and service concepts, with little regard to the production model on which they are based. Citizens thorough their purchasing power can drive industry to embrace more circular products and services. Based on this link local governments often work in a multi-stakeholders approach to understand their input in transition to a circular economy.
New technologies and open data empower stakeholders to engage directly in the transition of a circular economy. In addition, if we combine the principles of a regenerative and restorative economy, with Internet of Things technologies, which provide information about the condition, location and availability of assets, there is potentially an opportunity to scale new models more effectively.
MODERATOR: Igor E. Bergant
Circular business – the power of public procurement
For business models to become more circular, companies need to increasingly design products with asset recovery in mind, to source material in regenerative loops and develop revenue models that protects value up and down the chain. Products are services and leasing rather than owning will become increasingly common. Companies are beginning to work also on the basis of next life sales, where products can we reconditioned or transformed for reuse. Technological developments are bringing recycling to the next stage, and collaborative consumption has been scaled up dramatically through digital platforms.
City authorities play a strong role in terms of building capacity with local companies to become more circular. City authorities are also procurers and through their important spending power can unleash the potential of the circular business models by applying EU’s guidelines for green public procurement. As part of the circular economy package, the Commission has committed to taking further action on green public procurement in 2018-2020.
MODERATOR: Ladeja Godina Košir
Circular growth – developing the urban model
The built environment shapes and conditions the growth of our cities in terms of population and area. Most cities seek to densify their urban environments and prevent urban sprawl to support more sustainable ways of living when people live closer together, e.g. by reducing energy consumption for heating and pollution from private cars when people live in compact neighbourhoods.
The circular economy principles are to preserve natural capital, to optimise resource yields and to foster system effectiveness. When these principles are applied to urban development and to how we manage growing cities, it can trigger new approaches with less pressure on urban resources, reducing for example waste and carbon emissions and strengthening an integrated approach to growth.
One precondition for applying circular principles to urban growth, will be to improve our ability to join forces across sectors such as energy, taxation, employment, economic development and waste management. This is challenging at all levels of government, but city authorities, with the insights and knowledge of local conditions, needs and challenges, are well-placed to lead the process towards more joined up policy making.
MODERATOR: Chris Wherry