A NEW INITIATIVE to support Latin America and the Caribbean in the transition to a circular economy as part of the Covid-19 recovery was launched on 1 February 2021.

The Regional Coalition on Circular Economy will support access to financing by governments and the private sector, with special emphasis on small and medium enterprises (SMEs), in order to promote resource mobilisation for innovation and the implementation of specific projects in the region.

“As extracting, wasting and ‘doing business as usual’ can no longer be supported by the planet, it is key to build a common regional vision on circular economy. The Coalition we are launching today will help precisely to do that and to implement concrete and measurable practices,” said Carlos Correa, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of Colombia and Chair of the Coalition.

Coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Coalition will be led by a steering committee composed of four high-level government representatives on a rotating basis, starting with Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Perú for the 2021-2022 period.

A circular economy is a resilient, diverse and inclusive economic model that creates opportunities for sustainable growth that moves away from a ‘take, make, waste’ mentality. It fosters long-term economic productivity and green jobs, while tackling global challenges like climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss.

The initiative will count on eight permanent strategic partners: the Climate Technology Centre & Network (CTCN), the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy Coalition (PACE), the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), the World Economic Forum (WEF) and UNEP.

Driven by eco-design, a circular economy eliminates waste and pollution, keeps products and materials in use, and regenerates natural systems. Adopting these principles can reduce the use of raw materials by up to 99 per cent, contributing to protect biodiversity, according to UNEP’s International Resource Panel.

While the current climate discussions focus on switching to renewable energy and energy efficiency matters, which will tackle 55 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions, circular economy can help address the remaining overlooked 45 per cent, which are generated by the way we make and use products and the way we produce food, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

The Coalition aims to implement a circular economy approach through collaboration between governments, businesses, and society as a whole.

“The creation of this coalition reaffirms the region’s commitment to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, with special emphasis on SDG 12, Sustainable Consumption and Production, through the promotion of innovation, sustainable infrastructure, and an inclusive and circular economy,” said Leo Heileman, UNEP Regional Director in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Acknowledging that unsustainable consumption and production patterns are the root cause of the three planetary crises we face today  –climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss – we have a unique opportunity to rethink our linear economy and reshape our unsustainable consumption and production patterns”, he added.

* Source: United Nations Environment Programme