CCD report presents circular economy practices across European cities
21 Feb 2023
The newly published Circular Cities Declaration (CCD) reportcelebrates and highlights the great steps cities across Europe are taking to support the transition to a circular economy. From Maribor’s circular economy strategy and Budapest’s community composting initiative, to Ghent’s repair cafés and Haarlem’s world-leading target for 100% of local procurement to be circular by 2030, the report and the city profiles present many exemplary and replicable solutions.
Throughout 2022, CCD signatories have been submitting individual reports sharing their key activities and interventions in the field of circular economy, and the challenges they have experienced. In total 40 reports were submitted, covering activities from 2021 and 2022. ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, with support from Ellen MacArthur Foundation, led a comprehensive analysis of these submissions, with the CCD report as a result. The two organisations note that this is the widest ever assessment of circular economy practices across European cities. It has identified eight key trends for how circularity is implemented in Europe’s urban areas, as well as the four main barriers hindering a circular economy.
The report’s great emphasis on the role of cities in achieving the circular transition fits the broader aims of the Circular Cities Declaration. It was set up to not only support cities in achieving circularity, but also to highlight the crucial role they have in this process. Cities are hubs of humanity and centers of economic activity. They represent two thirds of global energy demands and are responsible for 70% of GHG emissions. At the same time, they manage a number of key sectors with circular potential, are responsible for land use and management and have significant public procurement and investment budgets. As such cities’ adoption of circular economy principles can drive change across nations and sectors.
The report can be downloaded here
The report, with a foreword from the vice-Mayor of Porto, shows progress is being made. Half of the 40 cities discussed in it have circular economy strategies in place or in development. Cities who need support with the development of one can benefit from the increasing amount of circular initiatives set up at European level to support them. Moreover, the report makes evident that there is a lot of potential to accelerate the circular transition. Beyond just city authorities, residents, national governments and the private sector all have levers they can pull to help achieve circularity.
By the end of 2025, the CCD aims to have 150 signatories. The report shows this is an achievable goal. The circular transition is happening across all of Europe in big and small cities, and across different sectors. For example, Leuven (Belgium) is setting up digital platforms to support repair services; Torres Vedras (Portugal) is using public procurement to invest in sustainable school meals; Copenhagen (Denmark) is using innovation to find radical new solutions for waste management; Ljubljana (Slovenia) encourages citizens to create their own circular solutions; La Spezia (Italy) requires the reuse of existing structures in construction; and Helsinki (Finland) enables food redistribution to make local food systems more regenerative.
Despite all this good news, the report does not turn a blind eye towards the challenges. Progress towards making cities circular is not as fast as it could be due to a lack of skills and knowledge. Furthermore, a lack of finance options is holding back the pace of transition to a circular economy. The private sector and national governments must help unlock new opportunities. As purchasers of goods and services, cities can contribute to this by using their buying power to lead by example and drive change among their suppliers. Finally, citizens must be aware of their own crucial role. They shape cultural norms and political expectations – these need to adapt alongside the changes brought in by urban authorities if cities are to become truly circular.