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Policy Lab with Regions: a few nuggets!
Two Fridays ago, on the 19th of March, Veltha held the first online workshop out of three as part of the Policy Lab 2.0.
For those that are not familiar with it, the Policy Lab is an engagement platform in which European Regions and private stakeholders eager to foster the policy-making process towards a circular economy, can communicate and exchange ideas to identify possible scenarios and co-design solutions for a more circular future.
A short rundown of the session:
The first session involved thirty diverse participants, spanning different representatives from different Regions around the EU: Greece, Portugal, Germany, Sweden to name a few. Everyone with different inputs and expertise, nevertheless equally important for the common understanding of the present issues and solutions for a just transition towards a circular economy in Europe.
The goal for this first session was to outline and map out the present circularity tools being used in the Regions that will enhance the process, but also to identify what kind of improvement is needed to bridge the gap between current issues and future solutions.
Is the understanding of circular economy deep enough?
Regional officers explained the urgent need of acknowledging and improving the incumbent understanding concerning circularity. Even though the knowledge about the concept is present, it still lacks an established and widespread interest throughout the Regions. The Regions stressed the urge of identifying and achieving a baseline of research and evidence of where there is need for improvement. The possibility of capacity building circular economy may be easier than we thought, due to the desire for a circular transition stressed by the Regions. Even though the indications differ between and within different Regions, there is still an established willingness to embrace the concept. A potential strategy to enhance the willingness is the perspective of looking beyond our current situation. Strategies need to be formed and defined for the future generation, in order to guarantee that our present implementations fit our future cities and Regions, but more importantly, the citizens of the future.
Who is to be involved?
To make sure that the implementations and understanding of circularity is up to date and kept in check, the Regions suggested a closer cooperation with not only bigger companies and smaller local ones, but also the collaboration and exchange of important information and research between the regional Universities and local authorities. The Regions emphasised Universities’ important role as not only educators of the concept, but also leaders in changing the approach from a “bolt on” aspect to a deeper and broader scale. Meaning, circular economy needs to be viewed through a lens and be referred to and studied within all different themes and subjects.
The role of the EU and European Regions: a top-down approach
Furthermore, the Regions proposed that the shift towards circularity needs to be supported on both Regional and EU-level, for enabling and easing the transition process for companies. The Regions have an important function to support and facilitate the work for companies and entrepreneurs who are willing to change their company to fit into a circularity framework.
The support could consist of circular procurement or other economic benefits that can strengthen the cooperation between private and public actors.
Finally, the first session of the Policy Lab outlined not only the issues and solutions described above, but marked the strength and possibilities presented by the Regions concerning their willingness and desire to shift their region to a “circular region”. There is a will of leading the fostering process from a top-down approach instead of being passive spectators in a bottom-down one. They emphasised the importance of not only being in front line of the change, but together with the EU and private actors make sure that the transition to a circular economy will be successfully achieved.