For four days in 2019, Antwerp was the epicentre of the circular economy. More than 750 company leaders, scientists and policy makers from all over the world came to the city from February 24 to 27 for the World Resources Forum (WRF), organised by OVAM - the Public Waste Agency of Flanders. On the menu? Sessions on the power of the circular economy and the link with climate change, and an introduction to numerous pioneering projects and initiatives that are driving the transition.
Her Majesty the Queen of Belgium, Advocate of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), attended the opening session and engaged in dialogue with international students who were brought together in an “E-Loop Challenge”, supported by Recupel. This bootcamp resulted in concrete proposals for designing out e-waste.
Throughout the conference, participants shared eight overarching perspectives on the circular economy.
- a fully circular economy will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 60%
- circular economy inherently means sustainable consumption
- radical lifestyle changes (reducing Western material footprint by at least 3/4) are necessary
- the Climate Change Conferences must lead to a Convention on Raw Materials
- cities are the engine of a circular economy
- land is a raw material and must be perceived as a valuable resource
- collaboration across government(s), industries and civil society is the lever for a successful circular transition
- Flanders is a circular economy pioneer
Following two days of plenary discussions and workshops, this WRF also featured visits to share best practice from the following circular pioneers:
- Antwerp circular city labs: Circular South and Lageweg
- Circular meets Bio-based in Ghent
- Circular Port Antwerp
- Umicore Hoboken plant virtual tour
- Port of Antwerp industrial steam network
- Blue Gate Antwerp circular re-development
- Ibogem separate collection and reuse
- VITO risk and race game
The conference's website has a full programme and some of the presentations from specific workshops, including those hosted by other ECESP Coordination Group members:
- Ecoembes: making waste smart - how EPR systems are closing the loop
- RREUSE: Setting binding targets to diminish waste and increase re-use as leverage to accelerate changes towards circular economy
- OVAM: Circular procurement and Green Deals - (Next) Challenges
- Eurocities: Unlocking the potential of urban resources through new use of urban spaces
The aftermovie and conclusions below, also shared at the March 2019 Circular Economy Stakeholder Conference, provide further visual impressions from when Antwerp briefly was Europe's circular economy hub.