On the 17th of May, Veltha hosted the 2nd Policy lab workshop for private stakeholders. The issues discussed emphasised the theme of this Policy lab period – Circular tools for the transition to circular economy.

During our 2nd digital workshop for Regional officers the following topics were discussed: 1) how a specific office/service should be structured; 2) Data capacity building with private and public actors; 3) what kind of data the regions want/need and how they want to acquire it; 4) how to involve the future generations.

The participants of the May 17 workshop session reacted and responded on the outcome of the Regional officers.

The setup of a new office/service

The private stakeholders highlighted three different approaches to how the local authorities can structure their office or service considering circular economy goals.

  • For already existing infrastructure and labour division, appointing a focal point for Regions to reach out where it is needed can help facilitate the connection and information flow between local companies and local authorities.
  • Since companies are already well connected regarding information exchange about circular economy in the Regions, the issue lies not in holding one officer or department responsible for CE in each region alone, adopting an horizontal approach is the ideal solution. That means that knowledge, expertise and data recovery should be shared among all the Regions involved with a view to fostering circular economy implementation.
  • Establishing of a well-functioning circular economy network is crucial for stakeholders in need of help and support in circular economy programmes. Hence, the Regions need to facilitate and promote network building, together with competent stakeholders that lead the way towards the achievement of circularity and make it easier for Regions to get there as fast as possible.

The issue of data recocery

When it comes to data capacity building and the relationship between local compeanies and local authorities, the private stakeholders emphasised the need of looking at circularity from the production side and from the necessity measures. It is not easy to know which data is needed, especially when considering that regional officers often have two jobs – check regulations and make circularity flourish. The issue here is also collecting data from companies, especially consumption-related ones, as it enters in conflict with some EU laws regarding data protection of consumers. What needs to be achieved is a continuous flow of information between both sides.
Additional observation on the matter consisted of the already existing data collected by public authorities. They already collect economic data from companies each year due to the draft of the GDP. The additional step now is to collect circular economy-based data and not only those related to money flow and supply. The data, in other words, should be more specific and circular economy targeted. But how should the data be shared?
The private stakeholders and experts noted that sharing means understanding how others operate in order to learn and realize what works and what doesn’t concerning circularity for local companies. The role of central governance, as highlighted, is crucial. National officers are in some countries educated on how to operate circularity with local stakeholders. These are then teaching the entrepreneurs and stretching the understanding of the topic to a broader cluster. But the private stakeholders emphasised that entrepreneurs go where opportunity is, therefore skills are shared naturally. Training the policymakers should therefore be of the interest of the EU Commission.

The role of future generations

The final topic discussed during the session orbited around the hope for the future. How? By involving the future generations and making sure that the policies implemented now, will function in the best way possible for the upcoming years. The importance lies in making it clear that circularity is horizontal, that it is an educational matter and not only a production issue. Doing so means that children will become green entrepreneurs.

On the contrary, others in the session argued that hopefully circular economy will  become the standard economy and therefore there is no need to commit to that. That is the mindset we should perpetrate. The issue lies in converting and motivate the older generations. They are the ones making the most resistance and the one that have to change. The younger generation is already aware of sustainability, the problem is rather to grasp how circular economy can help sustainability. The public sector should invest more money on communicating circular economy so that more people can understand how much of a tool it can become to reverse climate change. Launching specific competition or challenges, for instance, eco-design challenges can be a great way to promote education and awareness at the middle-school or primary level but also at the university and academia one. Of course, this also means to better direct investments towards academia and recognize the role it can have to fight climate change. At a regional level, it is a matter of recognizing and researching what kind on bonds they already have with the educational system and then exploit the possibilities.