After three months of dialogue and discourse surrounding circular tools in EU regions, the Policy lab period for this term has come to an end. Regional officers and private stakeholders from all parts of Europe have come together to foster sustainable policies concerning circularity.

The main research question for this term orbited around the identification of the most suitable tools for an equitable transition towards a circular economy in the EU.

The previous sessions addressed different topics – from data capacity building for regions and local stakeholders to the need fot a clearer definition of circular economy, from the creation of a common language to the importance of cooperation between academia, local authorities and private actors. Different aspects and methods on circular economy were discussed in order to identify functioning and practical tools to enhance the transition towards a new economic system.

Closer cooperation and networking between public and private actors was the constant theme of this Policy lab session. Regardless of different aspects and inputs collected, the Regions and private stakeholders agreed that there are important roles to play for everyone included in the ecosystem of a Region not just at a local level but also on an international level, within Europe’s borders.

The ambition lies in not only creating a sustainable and circular economy in Europe’s Regions but also competing on a global scale. With an attractive alternative route from linear to circular economy, the Regions and private stakeholders expressed their belief that European regions can be the frontrunners in reducing the CO2 emissions.

Our final Policy lab session was divided in two parts: the first half was focused on shedding light on the circular economy forum in the region of Alentejo, Portugal. Rosa Onofre demonstrated how 160 partners in the region had come together during the past four years to try together to understand the difficulties of circularity and co-create new solutions together. The partners range from academia, NGOs, local authorities to local companies and civil society. The regional officers acted as facilitators and coordination support for the forum’s practical needs.

The second part of the Policy Lab highlighted digital circular economy services for Regions and local stakeholders. The presentation was a description of the EU project DigiPrime connected to the H2020 programme. Digiprime aims to develop a new concept of circular economy digital platform in cross-sectorial value chain networks, with a view to overcoming the current information asymmetry among stakeholders from different value chains. The goal of the project is to ease the information exchange between local authorities and private actors in order to enhance the transition process and the information exchange for the design of new circular business models.

The two themes of the last Policy lab showed examples of two different yet successful methods of handling circularity in the regions. Regardless of the approach, both methods rely on the inclusion from all available sources. The lack of information exchange and a close-up cooperation between private and public actors will restrain the progress. The presentations and outcome of the Policy lab shows that a well operated infrastructure is one of the main keys of not only promoting a circular economy in the regions but also stimulating development and social innovation.

Veltha would like to thank all those that participated in our 3-month workshop. We are looking forward to kickstarting it again in September!

See you very soon!