Circular Cities - The sustainable future of Cities

Published on Friday, 5 May 2023

In the contemporary world, the most essential territories have been cities. Their trajectory has been through a long historical, political, social, cultural, and economic construction process. According to the World Urbanization Prospects report, 54% of the world's population lives in urban areas. By 2050, we expect this proportion to reach 66%. The world's current urban population is 3.9 billion and by 2050, an estimated 2.5 billion people will join.

We see enormous challenges facing cities, which imply complex changes to rethink their development model. In this context, the "Circular Cities" concept arises, which seeks to transition from a linear economy model to one that promotes circularity in all processes. The main objectives of circular cities are combining economic development, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion to combat climate change and promote just transition and equity.

With cities’ multiple realities come different solutions that, when shared, can pave a faster and smoother transformation path for those who start the journey later. Some institutions play an essential role in these integrations, such as the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean - ECLAC, one of the United Nations’ five regional commissions. The latter aims to contribute to Latin America and the Caribbean's peripheral countries economic development to ensure insertion through cooperation and technological and industrial development, turning them into emerging powers.

Declaration of the Circular Cities of Latin America and the Caribbean

Following the perspective of joining forces, the Declaration of Circular Cities of Latin America and the Caribbean was born. A voluntary commitment document of the region's cities, open to new members, to contribute to the transition from a linear to a circular economy.

ECLAC's commitment, promoted in partnership with Enel and the International Italo-Latin American Organization - IILA, with Latin American cities for transitioning to circularity, has among its main points:

·       Jointly define priorities and main lines of action on a circular economy, with the participation of leading departments of municipal administrations.

·       To elaborate together, guidelines on how our cities will participate in a broad participatory exchange process will allow us to define a long-term perspective for developing the transition.

·       Include stakeholders to develop a shared vision of how to make this transition to circularity.

·       Implement actions to raise public awareness on this issue.

·       Share progress on topics in this section and be featured in publications and events.

Decarbonization and just energy transition

By reflecting on the region’s urban model and proposing a redesign of the evolution parameters of cities, so it remains the engine of innovation and opportunities for all citizens, the signing of this document represents a crucial step in the strategy of municipalities. They will have reference points to develop actions in their territories promoting circular economy, decarbonization, and a just energy transition.

In addition to the relevant cities in Latin America and the Caribbean, in Brazil, for example, the movement already has five major participating cities: Santo André, São Caetano, Rio de Janeiro, Maricá, and Curitiba. Together, they add up to a population of approximately 10 million. In other words, the scale potential for this issue is enormous.

Through structured dialogues, Declaration will play an essential role in promoting consensus, increasing the city administration's and other stakeholders' active engagement, and underlining the importance of collaboration to achieve global and inter-city objectives.