On Monday 22 February 2021, in the margins of the fifth UN Environment Assembly, a new international collaboration has been brought to life: The Global Alliance on Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency (GACERE), the result of the cross-border synergic cooperation between the European Commission, the United Nation Environment Program (UNEP) and the United Nation Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

The Alliance is one of the results of the Circular Economy Action Plan adopted by the EU Commission in March 2020 as part of the European Green Deal.

By bringing together governments and international networks and organizations, the Alliance takes the form of a meeting room in which all the relevant actors can put their efforts together to drive change at multilateral level and advocate global initiatives aimed at promoting a circular approach to consumption and production intended to designing out waste and keeping the products for as long as possible within the economy.

Behind its foundation lies the need to identify knowledge and governance gaps to be addressed, alongside any possible bottlenecks in the economic system to be taken down, in line with the common goal of fast-tracking a just and equitable circular economy transition.

Eleven are the countries that, together with the EU, decided to join the Alliance: Canada, Chile, Colombia, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Rwanda and South Africa, all of them prompted by the desire of achieving a common goal: accelerating the journey towards a circular world.

In launching the alliance, EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, Executive Director of United Nations Environment Programme, Inger Andersen, and Director General of UNIDO, Yong Li, gave their own conceptualization of the Alliance:

“The transition to a resource-efficient, clean and circular economy is increasingly recognised as a must to address the ecological crises the world is confronted with. The circular economy offers opportunities for spurring innovation and making the transition more equitable by creating green jobs and lowering environmental impacts. With today’s launch of the Global Alliance on Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency, the EU shows its commitment to work on those matters globally.” — EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius

“Just transition is the key word: that means helping countries that depend on resource export and production to diversify their economy, protect those working in industries destined to decline and ensure safe and decent jobs. Circularity and sustainable consumption and production are essential to deliver on every multilateral agreement, from the Sustainable Development Goals, to the Paris Agreement to the post-2020 global biodiversity framework that we must agree on soon. They are essential to a sustainable recovery from the pandemic. — Executive Director of United Nations Environment Programme, Inger Andersen

“Circular Economy is not just an environment-related term. It stands for inclusivity, sustainability within the economic paradigm. It means increasing productivity and reducing resource use, implementing circular business and job opportunities. It means helping industries to implement green and circular design, efficient manufacturing process, devise digital technologies across value chains and networks, together with the life-time extension of circular economy consumption practices, by sticking to the CE motto: repair, reuse, recycle. All of this to mitigate climate change, fight against land and ocean degradation, enhance the wellbeing of citizens. Transition can only occur if the business community, governments and consumers act together.” — Director General of UNIDO, Yong Li

Why should we all benefit from it?

Circular economy means a lot of things: among them, low emissions, technological advances, less destructive resource extraction, more jobs, are the ones that stand out the most and are worth emphasising. For the achievement of a global transition, sharing experiences, learning from each other’s practices at international, national, regional and local level is the key. Principles of Circular Economy can be tapped globally only if countries and industries share the knowledge with those that, aware of their limitations, can be inspired by successful stories of circular economy accomplishments. In 2020, global consultations to engage policymakers, industrial leaders and civil society representatives have occurred in the form of regional meetings. The purpose now extends to the global level.

Circular Economy and Climate neutrality: what is GACERE’s role?

Wait for the next blog post to get an in-depth insight into the issues and topics discussed during the event.