Parallel Session 11: The international dimension of resource efficiency- Policies and best practice examples from all over the world

Dr. Detlef Schreiber of GIZ GmbH, Germany, the Chair of this session, introduced the audience to MoniRess, a collaborative project partnership between UBA (which is the German Environment Agency) and GIZ (Deutsche Gesselschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) which surveys countries on a global scale and monitors international development policies and raw resource policies amongst other things. This session was all about looking beyond Europe, particularly towards the East, the necessity of international cooperation and systemic learning from each other. A poll was posted in the beginning in which it was asked of the audience to choose how much percentage of the world’s countries they think have resource efficiency policies in place. 57% of the audience voted for 25% of the world’s countries to have such a policy into place but surprisingly, Dr, Schreiber informed us that about 75% of the countries have such a policy into effect to varying degrees in the form of waste management, circular economy and policy of manufacturing segments. The Indian speaker, Dr. Khosla, said that to better foster international policies, the European Resources Forum could have a convention to which the panel could report back to, as is the case with the UNDP and UNFCCC.

We start off with Russia with Prof. Dr. Olga Sergienko from ITMO University, who talked about indicative characteristics such as adoption of UNEP SDGs, strategy characteristics such as waste management and climate change and about institutional support, and the need for documnetation of best available techniques, and circular economy reforms. Russian example of waste management policies and practices was highlighted where the territorial waste management as well as ban on waste disposal containing useful components were key aspects and food waste reduction within the food supply chain was stressed upon. Dr. Sergienko stressed upon scientific research, awareness of consumers and increasing interest in business ciruclar models as areas to focus on going forward.

In the Indian context, we are illuminated on the resource efficiency/circular economy policies and approaches by Dr. Ashok Khosla, a member of the UNEP International resource Panel, who says that India’s resource productivity, despite being a developing country, is increasing and not bad in comparison to China and Germany. He expounds on the fact that the country being people rich and resource poor, it had already had to effect into place laws and regulations for resource efficiency as early as 1958. One of the key players of bringing about a change in the resource efficiency and circular economy system has been the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who have contributed, and continue to contribute, significantly to land and water management, energy provision for cooking and lighting, reycling, construction material innovations. Development Alternatives, founded by Dr. Khosla in 1983, is a good practice example of the construction material innovation use in that the building of his organisation has been built using 50% of recycled materials and used foundry slag, fly ash, etc. as materials as well. In collaboration with the Swiss Government, they have come up with a first new cement in 200 years, LC3 which is a very good low carbon building material. Dr. Khosla closed his session by saying that “Efficiency is meaningful only if it is built on sufficiency” and “Resource productivity is meaningful only if it raises human productivity and well-being as well”.

From India, we moved on to China which is the third economy to include circular economy laws after Germany and Japan, Prof. Dr. Bing Zhu, Director and Professor of the Institute for Circular Economy, stated. The Chinese policy has three main components of industrial recycling system, urban recycling system and resource recycling industry. It also has an ‘evaluation indicator system of circular economy’ in which the good practice example of Industrial Parks (IPs) in China were taken. Within the circular economy, such industrial parks would be key to resource efficiency implementation and sustainable development by the three parameters of circular transformation, establishment of eco-industrial parks and pilot projects of national low-carbon industrial parks, in-short, a circularity of circular economy, green economy and low-carbon economy. The circular economy policy is also reported by Dr. Zhu of supporting China’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2060. He was most enthusiastic about plastic policy collaboration between China and Europe.

Lastly, Ms. Chika Aoki-Suzuki of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, presented to us the case of Japan’s circular economy policies. ‘Policy for sound material cycle society’ which has been in effect since 2001 has the fundamental approach of 3Rs i.e. reduce, reuse, recycle coupled with renewables, alongwith various indicators, investment guidelines, labelling to help effectively implement the policies laid out. One of the fundamental measures introduced into this policy was the measures for marine plastic. Material flow in Japan has seen an increase in circular usage rate and reduced waste productivity and in turn, increased resource productivity. Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is also an important incorporation for the effectiveness of a circular economy policy and it brings under its belt initiatives such as Plastic Smart and CLOMA (Japan’s Clean Ocean Material Alliance). Two best practices examples that she has highlighted are those of UNIQLO’s measures of recycling their own products and Kao and Lion, a toiletry goods company, that is to be commended for its efforts at recycling material and packaging redesign.

Reported by: Shelly Debbarma, The Energy and resources Institute, India.