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Circular Flanders moves into a next phase

Thursday 3 December 2020

Circular Flanders, the partnership of government, business, civil society, and academia driving the circular economy, is getting a new boost. We’re shifting the focus from trials to scale-ups and generalising best practices. That calls for a diversification of activities, a new Chairman – Paul De Bruycker (Indaver CEO) – and an updated steering committee.

The Flemish Minister for the Environment, Zuhal Demir, and the Flemish Minister for Economy and Innovation, Hilde Crevits, are taking the next step for Circular Flanders today, from a focus on trials to scale-ups and a generalisation of best practices. Paul De Bruycker (Indaver CEO) will be the new chairman.

With both Minister Demir and Crevits at the helm, it’s clear that the transition to the circular economy is not only an environmental imperative but an economic opportunity as well. And that’s especially true in terms of innovation and employment.

It’s for this reason that all relevant sectoral federations (VCB, Essenscia, Agoria, Fedustria, Fevia, Denuo, Vlaams Werkgeversplatform [The Flemish Employers’ Platform], Febelfin), research institutes (VITO and the CE Center), the Alliance for a Healthier Living Environment (BBL), and the VVSG are participating in Circular Flanders’ updated steering committee.

Circular Flanders was launched in 2017 to ensure Flanders’ transition to the circular economy by 2050. Check out our retrospective report on 2017-2019's activities here. The current Flemish Government confirmed this objective and voiced their ambition to transform Flanders into a circular trendsetter in Europe by 2030. To do that, they aim to separate the material footprint created by Flemish consumption from economic growth and reduce that footprint by 30% by 2030.

‘Flanders must lead the way at a European and global level in the transition to a circular economy. Now, more than ever, Circular Flanders has become the partnership that continues to define how to mould that transition in concrete terms. Investing in the circular economy means investing in our environment,’
- Flemish Minister for Environment Zuhal Demir

Today's new start is perfect timing. ‘Once the pandemic is over, we’ll need to powerfully, and above all, sustainably, kick-start our economy. To that end, circular economics may represent a tremendous opportunity and we make no secret of the fact that Flanders has got grand ambitions when it comes to the circular economy,’ says Flemish Minister for Economy, Hilde Crevits.

The circular economy’s ability to contribute to greater economic resilience was demonstrated by a Circular Flanders and VITO survey conducted among 500 respondents in May 2020. It showed that companies employing a circular business model or business operation suffered considerably less from the lockdown's restrictions. 66% of these companies indicated that they didn’t suffer any losses due to the pandemic, compared to a mere 2% of ‘non-circular’ companies.

“Once the pandemic is over, we’ll need to powerfully, and above all, sustainably, kick-start our economy. To that end, circular economics may represent a tremendous opportunity."  

- Flemish Minister for Economy, Hilde Crevits.

‘The enthusiasm among stakeholders I've seen to roll up their sleeves and get cracking on the circular economy gives me hope that we'll be able to achieve quick results,’ says Chairman Paul De Bruycker.

So, who sits on the Circular Flanders steering committee? 

The steering committee reflects the ‘social pentagon’, including government, business, civil society, knowledge institutions, and the financial world. 

Steering Group

What's our strategy from now on?

STRATEGIC AGENDAS

Thematic agendas

The circular transition is far too big to assign to a single team or organisation. For the next step – the scale-up and mainstreaming – we need lots of assistance and many different types of expertise. And that’s why Circular Flanders is splitting up the work into six themed strategic agendas:

  1. circular construction
  2. chemicals and plastics
  3. water cycles
  4. biobased economy
  5. food chain
  6. manufacturing (textiles, furniture, electronics, batteries, etc.)

Each strategic agenda is a partnership in itself and is assigned a public and a private lead. They come up with targets together, define strategy, but first and foremost, they get things moving.

That’s all well and good, but it’s no coincidence. The topics covered by the Circular Flanders strategic agendas coincide seamlessly with the priorities advocated by Europe in, among others, the Green Deal.

LEVERS

Strategic Levers

Drawing up and implementing strategic agendas, however, doesn’t guarantee success. To make the transition to the circular economy a reality, there is a whole series of habits, rules, and barriers native to the ‘linear economy’ that need to be tackled. What’s more, support in the areas of communication, funding, and robust scientific research are also required. For that reason, we are juxtaposing the strategic agendas with seven levers:

  1. financing
  2. communication
  3. research
  4. jobs and skills
  5. circular procurement
  6. innovation and entrepreneurship
  7. policy instruments

The project leads of the strategic agendas and levers will assemble under Transition Manager, Brigitte Mouligneau's leadership to harmonise their efforts and learn from each other. The Circular Flanders coordination team will remain part of OVAM.

Governance

Circular Flanders will present its roadmap during its first State of the Union in the summer of 2021. The strategic agendas will be announced after the summer. However, the work? That’s already underway! And that’s a great reason to be sure to check out the Circular Flanders website and the related thematic subsites:

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