Circular economy offers an alternative to the current linear “take, make, use, dispose” economy model, and aims to keep resources in use for as long as possible, to extract maximum value from them whilst in use, and to recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of their service life.
While circular economy will help in ‘closing the material loop’, i.e. to minimize waste and to keep materials in the economy and out of landfills and incinerators, the development, implementation and scaling up of the solutions remain challenging because the whole world is on this fast track of linear production, consumption and disposal model. An all-encompassing solution should seek to ‘slow the material loop’, that is to reduce demand and produce only essential products, while discouraging non-essential production and use of such products, and promoting the use of renewable and recyclable alternatives.
Where waste management is not developed and implemented, it is often the poorest people that bear the greatest cost of pollution and environmental degradation.
Local innovations can play an essential role in circular economy, which could prove critical for long-term sustainable development. City and community innovations stemming from traditional local knowledge as well as from the application of modern science and technology, awareness raising, and advocacy are having tremendous, positive impacts. Many UNDP projects focus on working with various stakeholders, including local authorities, private sector, non-profits, women, youth, and people with disabilities. For example, in Burundi a women’s association undertook forest reforestation by using ecological alternatives to plastics in packaging seedlings. The central innovation of this project was to replace plastic bags with bags made of banana bark. This practice was replicated in many other communities, resulting in the avoidance of the use of three million plastic bags throughout Burundi.
The circular economy is a core concept in the sustainability agenda and contributes to the achievement of several Sustainable Development Goals. But what exactly is the circular economy, and how can we apply it in real life?
05 May 2020 - The lockdown has thrown us all into a real-time laboratory full of living examples of what a more sustainable future might look like. We have a perfect opportunity to study and explore which of these could be locked in to build sustainable, and safer, cities.
UNDP initiatives, local governments, and partners support Malaysian cities on a low-carbon path in response to the climate crisis, in a country where the temperature, rainfall, and sea levels have been rising for decades.
UNDP is working with local governments and citizens to counter unplanned urbanization, turning neglected urban spaces into parks and green zones that use recycled waste in Lalitpur near Kathmandu, Nepal.
17 Feb 2020 - The Guangzhou Award serves as a platform for the sharing and exchange of innovative practices in the local implementation of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and New Urban Agenda (NUA). Its objective is to contribute to the creation of inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and human settlements.
17 Feb 2020 - The Tenth World Urban Forum wrapped up in Abu Dhabi with delegates urging action on all aspects of rapid urbanization, recognizing that an increasingly urbanized world is a ‘transformative force’ that can be harnessed and steered to boost sustainable development.
The Dubai International Best Practices Award for Sustainable Development is looking for the most innovative practices around the globe that improve the living environment with $1M worth of prizes to be awarded at the Dubai Expo 2020.
12 Nov 2019 - The United Nations estimates that two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. In line with this prediction, more than 40 countries have built hundreds of new cities since the early 2000s, according to Forbes.