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Global leaders seek transition to circular economy

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Pollution. Photo: PIXABAY

Global leaders have highlighted the important role that the just transition to a circular economy can play in ensuring that the high-emitting, and hard-to-abate sectors reach climate goals.

They also emphasised the need for collaboration, innovative partnerships and enabling conditions, along the value chain to catalyse these efforts.

The leaders include policymakers, representatives of governments, international organisations, the private sector, knowledge institutions, and civil society.

They participated in the virtual World Circular Economy Forum + Climate (WCEF+Climate) hosted by the Netherlands and The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra.

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The conference focused on demonstrating how a just transition to a circular economy is a necessary prerequisite for achieving climate neutrality and the goal of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

Participants welcomed the objectives of the conference and noted its timeliness, especially in the context of the many challenges the world will face in a post-COVID-19 era.

Discussions highlighted how a just transition to a circular economy, enabling a more efficient use of resources and driving sustainable consumption and production, as well as inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, contributes significantly to combating and mitigating climate change and achieving climate neutrality; halting and reversing biodiversity loss and pollution; and creating enabling conditions for business and decent jobs.

Ultimately, the conference showed the crucial contribution of a just transition to a circular economy in building forward better and greener – for people and planet in this crucial moment in history.

Participants called for stepping up ambition through circular solutions to achieve particularly: Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8 on decent work and economic growth; SDG 9 on inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, resilient infrastructure and innovation; SDG 12 on ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns; and SDG 13 on climate action.

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They underlined the interlinked nature of the SDGs, particularly aspects related to: reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, building climate resilience, promoting adaptation, safeguarding biodiversity, ensuring the sound management of chemicals and waste, eradicating poverty, promoting economic growth and decent jobs, ensuring food security and good health and promoting inclusivity and sustainable lifestyles.

Additionally, participants called for enhanced efforts, including circular and resource-efficient solutions, for achieving climate neutrality and the goal of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

They demonstrated their commitment to developing, implementing, and enhancing circular economy policies, strategies, and solutions, and in doing so, complementing ongoing actions and efforts on mitigation and adaptation to achieve climate neutrality.

Participants recognised the importance of harnessing the potential of a circular economy as a tool for enhanced climate action and as such, considered the importance of integrating the circular economy in national climate plans and strategies, such as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), NDC Implementation Plans, National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), and Long-term Low GHG Emission Development Strategies (LT-LEDS).

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In this regard, key players from the built environment sector agreed to work in partnership with all relevant public and private parties to accelerate new approaches.

Participants recognised the specific challenges facing small island developing states (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs) in realising the just transition to a circular economy, specifically those related to financing, addressing specific vulnerabilities of these countries, and issues related to economies of scale.

Participants further recognised the importance of an inclusive approach in the just transition to a circular economy, and highlighted the need to effectively consult and include youth, women and other marginalised groups in the just transition to a circular economy and climate neutrality.

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