WCEF2019 stressed the urgent need to scale up the circular economy.
Participants frequently noted that the time to act is now, as there are opportunities to mainstream circular solutions such in filling the massive global infrastructure gap.
Participants emphasized the private sector’s role in promoting the leap from linearity to circularity.
4 June 2019: “Living instead of consuming” was a popular refrain heard during the 2019 World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF2019), a two-day event attended by more than 2,000 “doers and thinkers” who considered ideas to reduce the overuse of raw materials, stem overconsumption, and move from ownership to sharing, among other goals that fall under the circular economy framework.
WCEF2019, which convened in Helsinki, Finland, from 3-4 June 2019, stressed the urgent need to scale up the circular economy. Participants frequently noted that the time to act is now, as there are opportunities to mainstream circular solutions such in filling the massive global infrastructure gap. In this regard, participants emphasized the private sector’s role in promoting the leap from linearity to circularity.
Participants shared solutions that included actions such as moving away from linear business models, ending perverse economic incentives, mainstreaming the circular economy in trade, encouraging disruption in business, collaborating with the private sector, and educating consumers to change mindsets and behaviors.
During 16 plenary and parallel sessions, panelists highlighted that the transition to the circular economy should become fairer and more inclusive, while supporting the SDGs. Discussions focused on:
- Methods for growing investments into circular economy businesses;
- Ways to spread and scale up new technologies; and
- Tools for making significant regulatory changes that enable scaling up the circular economy.
Other key messages included the importance of international trade and investment, as well as broad engagement by governments, the private sector, and consumers.
Speakers highlighted that Finland’s upcoming Presidency of the EU and plans by the European Commission to update its second circular economy plan both present key opportunities to promote circularity. The discussions will continue at the fourth WCEF, to be held in Canada in 2020.
WCEF2019 was a global initiative of the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra. The event was supported by the European Investment Bank (EIB), Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland, Ministry of the Environment of Finland, Nordic Innovation, and partners Climate-KIC, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the European Commission, the European Environment Agency, Helsinki Metropolitan Smart & Clean Foundation, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and the World Bank. [IISD Meeting Coverage]