April 22, 2020

Covid-19 and the circular economy

An open letter to anchor our reflections and invite dialogue around the covid-19 pandemic and the circular economy

We stand in solidarity with everyone affected by the pandemic. Covid-19 has plunged the entire world into a state of flux. Today, we are more aware than ever of the interdependencies binding our natural, social and economic systems. We are all connected and only as strong as our most vulnerable citizens.

Business as usual is failing both people and the planet. The covid-19 pandemic has further exposed how the linear economy cripples economic resilience, exacerbates social inequality and depletes natural resources. Under the collective experience of the pandemic, there has never been a more salient time to imagine a more sustainable ‘new normal’. 

The circular economy allows us to collectively reimagine and redesign our world. As we reflect on what this redesign could mean for a post-pandemic world, one critical question is: How can the circular economy shape a more resilient, socially just and environmentally safe world?

This is an open invitation to share your reflections. As the situation continues to unfold, we call on our readers, partners, stakeholders and community to join us in an open dialogue and together navigate the transition to a safe and just post-pandemic world. We will be using the hashtag #circularpostcovid to share our thoughts, questions and ideas around the subject, and invite you to do the same. 

If all the world’s a stage, now is a time to retrain the actors, adapt the script and rewrite the story.


Update July 1st, 2020

Following this open letter, we published a series of reflections on covid-19 and the circular economy, which you can find below.

Patrick Chapatte on Der Spiegel

An overview: Opportunities and reflections In light of rising inequality, climate breakdown and fragile economies, how could the circular economy shape a more resilient, socially just and environmentally safe world?

An essential worker in Beijing. Photo by Tedward Quinn on Unsplash

What has the pandemic unearthed about the labour market and the circular economy? Widespread lockdowns have been devastating for many sectors and workers have felt the brunt of this. A just transition for workers must drive post-covid recovery.

Photo by Daniel von Appen via Unsplash

Beyond the pandemic, a new materialism awaits fashion The fast-paced mass production in fashion has been hit hard as consumer spending has abated. Could this influence responsible consumption in the long-term?

How circular design can help us in times of crisis

Reuse, repair and refurbish have the potential to alleviate shortages in healthcare.

Where are we coming from and where are we going in the post-pandemic age? We have seen green initiatives being both fast-tracked and paused during the pandemic: what does this mean for renewable energy?

The tragedy to end all tragedies of the commons? Could the crisis accelerate value shifts toward the environment that were already underway in many societies?

Transforming cities into thriving circular societies: Five lessons from covid-19 Impacts of the pandemic have not been distributed equally among communities and this has been starkly exposed in cities.

All business can benefit from resilience, regardless of size The covid-19 pandemic has shown that value chains can be disrupted by surprise. How can SMEs build a buffer against future crises and threats?

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