Circle Economy and ICLEI embrace a global approach to create circular cities locally

July 8, 2018

On July 8, at the Eco Forum Global Annual Conference in Guiyang, China, Circle Economy and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability officially launch their partnership to accelerate the global transition to a circular economy through cities. In addition, the announcement also kicks off collaboration with ICLEI East Asia on developing the first regional partnership towards the practical implementation of the circular economy within East Asian and European cities.


The announcement marks the beginning of a multi-year collaboration between Circle Economy - an impact organisation committed to delivering practical and scalable solutions to transition towards a circular economy - and ICLEI, a leading global network of 1,500+ cities, representing 25% of the global urban population and committed to building a sustainable future. The partnership will leverage the expertise, experience and ambition of both organisations, with the objective to support local governments in decoupling urban economic development from resource consumption and environmental degradation.

We all overuse our resources. “Overshot day,” the day we’ve spent more resources than we can renewably supply, arrives on the 10th of August this year. Every day after that is a day we live from the earth’s substance itself.Thus, we all have to change the way we purchase, consume, and manage our resources and waste. This is the responsibility of individuals, citizens, inhabitants, businesses, and governments, and this change must be focused through local governments.As ICLEI we are committed to supporting our Members and all other committed cities to develop and implement strategies towards sustainable procurement, avoiding waste, and creating synergies in which the output of the one becomes the input of the other - in brief, creating the "cyclical economy".ICLEI Deputy Secretary General Monika Zimmerman

Cities are now responsible for 70% of resources that are consumed globally and 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Acknowledging the huge environmental footprint of cities, both organisations recognise the crucial role of the circular economy to help close the global resource Circularity Gap, as well as create liveable and future-proof cities that also provide employment opportunities for every citizen. During the ICLEI World Congress in Montreal in June 2018, ICLEI reaffirmed its commitment towards the circular transition in cities, underlining Circular Development as a fundamental transition pathway within ICLEI’s Strategic Vision 2018-2024. Embodied in this partnership is the commitment to deep collaboration through the sharing of knowledge, resources, good practices and expertise to drive the co-development of urban circular economy initiatives. With this agreement, Circle Economy also becomes an official partner of ICLEI’s Urban Transition Alliance, which empowers cities with industrial legacies across the world to become leaders of sustainable urban development. Taken together, this partnership creates a global approach in the creation of the circular cities of the future and presents a key step in the pathway towards circular urban developmentContinued work surrounding circular cities is continuing to demonstrate the many tangible benefits a circular economy can bring to cities. Not only can circularity make huge contributions in the reductions of greenhouse gases to achieve the Paris Climate Agreement as 67% of these emissions are related to material management, but within the socio-economic sphere, circular strategies can also generate net increases in employment throughout a city to support the creation of a competitive and future-proof workforce.

Harnessing the power of cities is vital towards a sustainable future that can thrive within the boundaries of our planet for all its citizens. This partnership between Circle Economy and ICLEI enables an actionable approach to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy in cities. The impact for cities is clear: improvements to net employment and social cohesion as well as reductions in carbon dioxide emissions - in short, answers to the big challenges cities face today” Annerieke Douma, Director Programme Development, Circle Economy

Recent decades have witnessed dramatic urban growth, particularly in East Asian cities. To support this growth in a sustainable way, these cities should strive towards circular economies that are productive and human-centered instead of extractive driven. Cities alone have the potential to reduce China’s CO2 emissions by 30%, which is a practical and realistic answer to environmental degradation and will provide solutions for job creation. Today’s announcement also marks the beginning of a close collaboration between Circle Economy and ICLEI East Asia with the goal to facilitate the practical implementation and measurement of circular economy strategies within the member cities of ICLEI East Asia. These innovative methodologies, developed by Circle Economy, have been applied in cities throughout Europe, and ICLEI East Asia will utilize their local expertise, and that of their member cities, to jointly apply these practices into regional action and create feedback loops to further improve the approaches.

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