After our second out of three workshops we now stand in the middle path of our Policy Lab period. Our Regional officers have both expressed positive progress and highlighted the existing and upcoming challenges. It seems that the current situation surrounding the field of circular economy around the Regions is constantly changing and our Regional officers face new obstacles everyday. 

Meanwhile we are addressing the regions as key actors in promoting, facilitating and enabling circular economy from ideas to action. The 2nd digital workshop demonstrates that the Regions are not afraid of playing a pivotal role in achieving a circular model. However, they are aware of their own capacity of fostering the shift by themselves. Although adequate governance and economic conditions are factors that can unlock the potential of a circular economy, other private and public actors must be receivable and accountable for the common goal of a circular vision. 

The potential of a circular economy lets your hope grow for a sustainable future in our rural and urban areas. The tool, framework or system that we have been looking for are now possible to grasp. However, the Regions stressed during our session about the substantiveness in the matter – we can dream of a common and just circular economy that functions in the future, but have to face the realities of today. What are the issues and solutions in the present? For regions tackling challenges concerning circularity it means the need to take on different methods and skills depending on the extent of a specific topic. 

Main highlights

The 2nd digital workshop focused on setting up offices/services in the regions. Depending on the progress in each regional context, different approaches have been made by the Regions. Regardless of the approach, each region designs different starting points for the development of an internal capacity building and a circular economy action plan to be applied. Nevertheless the common thread through both approaches remains the urge to involve all possible actors in the implementation of circular economy strategies.

In order to have an efficient and effective progress, the Regional officers emphasised the need for involving not only local actors but also those working at an interregional level, in line with the ultimate goal of reaching a shared global vision of what circular economy entails. The regional officers also highlighted that circular economy is business driven, hence the importance of spreading information about the possible benefits of shifting into a circular model for businesses.

The Regional officers also stressed the crucial issue of the availability of common data. The goal for a circular model is based on using not only common materials but also data and procedures. The difficulties that Regions highlighted is that the current situation is the result of individual strategies, rather than being a joint effort involving all the actors needed. This develops the mindset of having local companies not realising their role on how a circular model could be beneficial. Other inputs during the workshop orbited around the relationship between producers and buyers. The Regions emphasised that there is a gap between them and proposed a solution based on the idea of processing a logistic framework that would facilitate companies in getting closer for the two.

There are also difficulties regarding the acquisition of the needed data. The issue lies not only in the availability but also in determining what kind of data is needed. This leads to Regions being willing to obtain and collect data wherever possible. Policy labs, international cooperation and interregional collaborations are, to mention a few, different examples that can function as platforms for sharing skills, experiences, and tools. 

The theme, topic, system, framework, whatever a circular economy is called, continues to stress the importance of cooperation, collaboration, regardless of the lesser or greater impact. Involving the current actors and future generations is the key to enhance and enable circularity on a broader scale. We face challenges today and in the future, but we have also overcome obstacles on the way. New challenges will arise and further solutions will be applied.