A Poignant Opening to the ERF 2020

The forum started with a strong message from Prof. Dr. Dirk Messner, President of the German Environment Agency, resonating throughout the first five speeches: we are not doing enough, but achieving resource efficiency is possible.

The implementation of the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan aims to bring about change by improving resource efficiency through increasing the use of sustainable resources, ensuring less waste by targeting product design, and focussing on the potential for circularity in sectors not reaching their full recycling potential, such as the construction industry.

Staunchly put by Stientje van Veldhoven, The Netherlands Minister for the Environment, “For climate change, there is no vaccine”. Although parts of Europe are on the right track, international exchange and a global circular economy alliance are also required to achieve climate goals. Existing challenges include the uneven distribution of efficient resource across Europe, global inequalities in supply chain knowledge, and demographics, such as the rising middle class, increasing projected resource use.

By means of green deals encouraging circular economies, implementing resource use thresholds on local, regional and global scales, integrating policy approaches, and achieving efficient greenhouse gas neutrality, systemic change can be delivered.

Rachel Fishman, University of Bristol, UK