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Retrace partners at the event ‘’Circular Regions on the Way’’

Brussels, 23 March 2018 – Retrace partners, including Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy, yesterday gathered at the first Retrace interregional dissemination event ‘’Circular Regions on the Way – A Vision on Cohesion Policy Beyond 2020’’ which marked the closure of the first phase of the project and aimed to present the results of this phase. The keynote session ‘’Circular Economy Shaping EU Regions’’ featured the contribution of former EU Commissioner and Co-Chair of the UN Resource Panel (UNEP) dr. Janez Potočnik.

The interregional event was hosted in Brussels by project lead partner University Politecnico di Torino with a view to disseminating the results achieved by the project during the first phase of work (2016-2018). This includes a publication called ‘’Systemic Design Method Guide for Policymaking: A Circular Europe on the Way’’ which is available in hard and online version and is a result of fruitful dialogue of partners from partner regions in Spain, Italy, France, Romania and Slovenia and acts as a collection of good practices of systemic design as the main driver of transition to a circular economy. The book helps policy makers integrate systemic design in the complex political, design and decision-making processes. The event featured the thirty best practices of circular economy that were identified in the scope of the project Retrace (A Systemic Approach for Regions Transitioning Towards a Circular Economy).

The event brought together a number of different actors. Michal Kubicki, policy officer from DG Growth (EC) stressed that the EC is well aware of the gaps identified by project partners and that it is working hard to address them. Indeed, circular economy is one of the pillars of the renewed EU Industrial Policy Strategy which includes a new series of actions on circular economy, including a set of fiscal measures speeding the transition to a circular economy. One of the future steps is to reflect on including the circular economy issues in the debate on the future of EU Cohesion Policy beyond 2020.

The keynote session ‘’Circular Economy Shaping EU Regions’’ featured the contribution of former EU Commissioner and Co-Chair of the UN Resource Panel (UNEP) dr. Janez Potočnik, who warned that our planet has already reached its carrying capacity in certain areas, and that current production and consumption patterns coupled with the rapid population growth will only lead to further environmental degradation. Dr Potočnik also highlighted that financial capital is still overvalued, while the relevance of social and natural capital are too often overlooked. Dr Potočnik recalled the importance of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Paola Migliorini, Team Leader Circular Economy, DG Environment (EC) emphasised that most of the planned actions set out in the EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy have already been delivered. She outlined the key elements and objectives of the new EU Plastics Strategy, and the initiatives that are to be implemented in the area where waste and chemicals-related regulations overlap. She highlighted the role of circular economy in creating jobs. Eva Revilla Peñaranda, policy officer from DG Enterprise (EC) closed the policy panel session by presenting the activities related to establishing clusters and outlined the support activities provided by EC in this respect.

The second phase of the project that will last till March 2020 will witness the implementation of five Regional Action Plans facilitating the transition of individual regions to a circular economy through systemic design.

A Retrace-related conference and workshop ‘’Sustainable Design for Transition to a Circular Economy’’ will be held under the auspices of Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy on 27 March 2018.