The World Circular Economy Forum 2019 just held said urgent action is needed to push back against the growing climate crisis, with a massive investment in the circular economy the solution.
Held in Helsinki, the Forum was in its third annual outing. Finland has committed to 100 per cent circular economy by 2030, and in a key development, will assume the presidency of the EU Council on 1 July.
The event hosted 2200 business, industry and government leaders and policymakers, coming from 90 countries. Its theme was Scale it Up, and the Forum says large scale investment is now needed to follow through on initial ideas and programmes.
“The science is screaming at us: our current growth pattern is unsustainable,” said Laura Tuck, vice president for Sustainable Development at the World Bank. “We need to change our policies, which gives incentives for the overuse of resources. We must also value our natural capital such as air, land and water. The cost of depleting our natural capital must be properly accounted for.”
In Australia, the South Australian and Victorian governments are working on circular economy positions and action plans, with NSW and Queensland also taking steps to move in the circular direction. All are driven by the waste crisis that has erupted since China, then a host of Asian nations, stopped taking Australian post-consumer plastic; however, there is as yet no federal initiative.
The WCEF2019 said the solution to the climate crisis is the circular economy. Organisers said the event saw many good ideas shared about the core philosophy of WCEF2019; in particular, the actions that can be taken to scale up solutions and make a fair transition to a circular economy to mitigate climate change. However, it said cooperation and global leadership is needed in order for the circular economy to be realised.
“For most countries their economies are too small to be self-sufficient in circularity. In order to have full circularity there’s a need for co-operation across borders,” said Elliot Harris, UN assistant secretary-general and chief economist. “For that to happen, there needs to be global consensus and understanding that we want to create the circular economy with each other, not separate from each other.”
The WCEF2019 was hosted by Sitra, and co-organised with selected international partners. Next year WCEF2020 will be held in Canada, where circular solutions are already a priority. Catherine McKenna, minister of environment and climate change, says, “We all know we have too much waste – it is piling up in landfills, and ending up in our environment. Canada is looking forward to welcoming WCEF 2020 delegates to North America, to expand circular economy networks, partnerships and opportunities. By working together we can find ways to recycle and reuse our resources and create great jobs. Let’s work together and turn that trash to cash."