VAIVÉN 2023: Circular Economy Festival

Published on Wednesday, 22 November 2023

The Circular Economy Coalition of Latin America and the Caribbean recently hosted the Third Edition of the Circular Economy Festival in collaboration with various stakeholders. The festival was held in San José, Costa Rica, on October 9-10 and aimed to promote regional and systemic integration towards circularity. The event was a hybrid affair, bringing together professionals from the field of economics to engage in meaningful discussions and exchange ideas on creating a more sustainable future.

The Circular Economy Festival has been a continuous event since its first edition in 2020, organized in partnership with the Regional Energy Security and Climate Change Program of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. This year's forum aimed to provide a platform for interaction, discussion, and knowledge sharing, celebrating the advancements made in the circular economy in the Latin American and Caribbean region.

The first day of the event focused on "The Circular Economy facilitating the systemic transition." This included several panels that discussed essential topics such as the circular economy's role in the climate agenda, the Global Plastics Treaty, and ways to strengthen the plan for Latin America and the Caribbean. Other topics included regional synergies to facilitate the circular economy and financing as a crucial aspect of the transition to circular models in the region.

Various institutions and organizations made presentations during the event, including the Environmental Directorate of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Ministries of Environment of Chile, Peru, and Brazil, WRAP, the Ellen McArthur Foundation, the Quality Infrastructure Council of America (QICA), IDB, and UNEP FI. Private companies such as FIFCO, Enel, and Banco Popular also participated in discussions regarding the progress and challenges in this area.

During the following day, the main topic of discussion was "Upstream solutions in national agendas." The conversation mainly revolved around the circular economy strategies of Latin American and Caribbean countries. The day was divided into three blocks of discussion. The Plastics Block prioritized reuse as a strategy to eliminate plastic pollution. The Construction Block centered on the development of circular public infrastructure in cities. Lastly, the Industry Block discussed the sector's transformation to strengthen the circular economy.

The event was concluded with the launch of the Circularity Gap Report for Latin America, presented by Alvaro Conde - a researcher of Circle Economy's Circularity Gap Report Initiative. The Colombian Ministry of Environment, ECLAC, UNIDO, and the Circular Economy Coalition also participated in the discussion. The study analyzed data from 33 countries recorded in 2018 and found that implementing circular economy strategies in the agri-food and manufacturing sectors could reduce LAC's material and carbon footprints by one-third each. Renewing waste management could raise the circularity metric from less than 1% to 6%. The report also emphasized the importance of shifting to a circular food system, developing the circular economy in manufacturing, reducing waste generation, and improving its recirculation.

Beatriz Martins Carneiro, the Coordinator of the Circular Economy Coalition in Latin America and the Caribbean, has stated that the study demonstrates the potential of the circular economy to create job opportunities. However, she also emphasized the need for an inclusive and fair transition, particularly in regions where inequality is prevalent. The food, construction, mobility, and waste management sectors alone can create 8.8 million new formal jobs. Therefore, cooperation and collaboration between countries are essential to accelerate this transition, and the Coalition plays a vital role in promoting such exchanges.

Julia Sandner, Director of the Regional Program Energy Security and Climate Change (EKLA) of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, delivered the closing remarks at the festival. She concluded that the event provided a platform for learning, collaboration, and inspiration to drive the circular economy in the region and beyond. Sandner expressed her gratitude for the participation of representatives from 13 countries and other countries worldwide. She urged all attendees to continue to be agents of change in their countries, establish and cultivate alliances formed during the festival, and work together to build a better future for the next generations.