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Meet the actors: High-Level Panel on Developing and Implementing Policies for Circular Economy Practices

Find out how countries are shifting to circular economy


Why a circular economy strategy?

The Commission is aiming to present a new, more ambitious circular economy strategy late in 2015, to transform Europe into a more competitive resource-efficient economy, addressing a range of economic sectors, including waste. There is much to explore on the different levels from the global UN perspective, to Commission’s perspective and the EU country perspective as well as the perspective of EU neighbouring countries. How will the priority areas of food, housing, mobility, tourism be affected? Which business models will be fostered? What are the expected implementation challenges? How can North and South Mediterranean collaborate to make circular economy a reality?

 

What did we aim at?

The main objectives of the session were:

- To highlight circular economy opportunities in the EU and the neighbouring North African countries

- To point out planned policy interventions in Europe and in the North African countries to support those opportunities

- To explore collaboration opportunities among the EU and the neighbouring countries to support circular economy efforts

 

Find out circular economy initiatives in the Mediterranean Region and Europe

The panel was moderated by M. Enrique de Villamore Martin, Director of the Regional Activity Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production. The panellists were:

H.E. Eng Adalah Atteereh, Chairman of the Palestine Environment Quality Authority of Palestin

M. Mohamed Afanah, Director of Policies & Development, Jordanian Ministry of Environment

Ms. Hanan El-Hadary, Chairman of the Industrial Council for Technology and Innovation of Egypt

Ms. Ester Pozo-Vera, Coordinator for European Neighbourhood Countries and Mediterranean issues, DG Environment- E1 International, regional & bilateral relations

M. Callum Blackburn, Head of Policy and research, Zero Waste Scotland, the Scottish government

 

What measures are Mediterranean countries developing to shift to circular economy?

H.E. Eng. Adalah Atteereh,  highlighted the creation of an organisation within the Palestinian authority with the special mandate to work on this particular matter (Palestine Environment Quality Authority). She highlighted the need for a strategy to be developed. Nevertheless, she explained that in a situation such as Palestine’s, there are other priorities. However, shifting to circular economy has a special importance for Palestine due to resource availability and access are limited. Palestine is betting on circular economy as a way to thrive of a struggle economy.

M. Mohamed Afanah, began answering the question by drawing the big picture for Jordan in terms of GDP, import and exports, explaining through these figures that Jordan is one of the poorest countries in terms of natural resources. He also noted that Jordan faces an additional challenge due to the consecutive waves of refugees that the country faces. In view of these challenges, he informed that Jordan has a new development strategy to 2025. He noted that Jordan has become involved in circular economy based on competitiveness and as a necessity due to geopolitical context.

In implementing circular economy, Jordan wants to go beyond recycling of waste product. To this end exploratory studies on 5 key sectors have been ordered to explore the business case for circular economy. These studies give among others recommendations for green investment and sustainable funding of green economy.

 

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Ms. Hanan El Hadary
,  has enumerated the several milestones at the national policy level toward the shift to a circular economy in Egypt. The latest milestone was the work done under the SwitchMed project to elaborate an SCP Action Plan for Egypt. She also reported on several initiatives which pave the way toward circular economy on the ground. These initiatives tackle a wide range of challenges, from waste management to resource efficiency and renewable energy. They also provide support to important actors of the shift to circular economy such as green SMEs and green entrepreneurs in Egypt. Green entrepreneurs actually benefit from financial mechanisms and venture capital funds to implement their businesses through a project managed by ICTI and the Italian government.

M. Callum Blackburn, added another perspective from Europe. He explained the experience in Scotland where his organisation is designing a zero waste plan with the strong involvement of the Scottish government and ambitious targets the government forces into application. A consultation has been organised with the motto #Makethingslast, with the intention to make circular economy simple for everyone to understand.

He explains that in Scotland there is a political will to move toward circular economy, particularly reuse and remanufacturing, which is seen as a high value step to go towards circular economy.   

Ms. Ester Pozo-Vera,  explained how circular economy has been integrated in the EU policy development. She recalled the Europe 2020 to promote sustainable growth for 2020 and the Roadmap towards a resource efficient Europe. She stressed that we should see circular economy as an opportunity for ecoinnovation. The ecoinnovation industry is the only one that still creates jobs in Europe and has been the most resilient industry in EU during the last years. To exploit this potential in Europe, we need a good regulatory framework, and an adequate mix of measures to boost this industry. Finally, she announced that in the 7th environment action programme, there is a part dedicated to Circular economy that will incorporate not only legislation but also the financial instruments to support research and innovation.


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“We support the business sector meet the challenge of getting away from the landfill”
Callum Blackburn, Head of Policy and research, Zero Waste Scotland, the Scottish government

 

How are they implementing measures to prevent the creation of waste?

M. Blackburn answered evoking that the producer responsibility mechanism is applied in a wide range of products in Scotland. He analysed however that most businesses would like to contribute to preventing the creation of waste through such measures and mechanisms but don’t have the knowledge. That is why Zero Waste Scotland builds capacities in the private sector to fill this gap. Moreover, one of the questions of the consultation currently going on is about setting up a “circular design center” in Scotland to introduce this set of skills in the designs schools in the region.

H.E. Eng. Adalah Atteereh highlighted that shifting to circular economy is made impossible by the current political situation of Palestine. However, when the situation is solved and the country is at peace, she assessed that collaboration with other countries, including the EU will be needed to share experiences and best practices. Moreover, studies and expertise will be needed, as well as setting up the right regulatory framework for SCP, building capacities and designing the right financing mechanisms.

Ms. Pozo-Vera informed that to solve the prevention question, Europe has an extensive product and material design policy in the 7th environment action programme. These policies articulate around the key concepts of design and feature in order to prevention creation of waste while taking into account the consumers’ will.


Finally, Ms. Lamia Mansour, expert on SCP, asked how the Mediterranean countries can implement these policies that have been identified as a priority. 

M. Afanah answered to both panel and audience questions saying that in Jordan, and because of the political situation in the Middle East, environment is no longer a priority. First safety and peace must be secured. He stressed however that despite the current political situation, efforts are made toward sustainable development, namely through the UfM Declaration in Athens in 2014, the Regional Action Plan for SCP developed by UNEP/MAP with the support of SCP/RAC, the Arab strategy for SCP and several other initiatives that work in the right direction despite the situation.

 

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 Let's continue the discussion

You can join and contribute the discussion on the development and implementation of policies for circular economy practices in the session community here. You can also download the presentation here. In that community we encourage you to post your own reflections, experiences and questions. Keep engaging and shaping the content of SwitchMed Connect 2016.