The ECESP Annual Conference 2024: Circular Economy - from Visions to Actions

Catch up with a session? Recordings of EU-track and main plenary sessions are available in the agenda below.

The European Circular Economy Stakeholder Conference took place in Brussels on 15 and 16 April 2024, with a twist!
The seventh edition of the most awaited Circular Economy conference in Europe joined forces with the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF) to bring policy makers, industry leaders, academics and activists from all corners of the world to Brussels to turn circular visions into actions.
Online and on-site attendees could enjoy keynote speeches, panel discussions, workshops and networking opportunities. These kick-started engaging discussions and inspired change with a mix of policy-oriented sessions and stakeholder dialogues, highlighting the key role of a legislative framework for the circular economy.
The European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform (ECESP), powered by the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee, showcased and discussed Europe's progress in the transition in dedicated EU-focused sessions.
On 17 April, the Belgian Presidency of the European Union organised sessions and site visits to local circular businesses. The agenda can be consulted here. In addition, accelerator sessions were held by WCEF collaborators on 17 and 18 April in Brussels, online and around the globe.

Watch our sum-up video

Check detailed programmes on our partners' websites:

WCEF2024  EU BE Presidency

See the agenda for more information on the EU-focused sessions and WCEF plenaries. You can also access the recordings (click on a title for more information).

  • Day 1 - 15 April - The Square, Brussels
    • Workshop - 09:30 – 10:45 - The ECESP: a success story

      The EU Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform (ECESP) is a successful initiative to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. The session covered the challenges overcome and how the initiative successfully offers a wealth of best practices for policy makers, businesses, academia and civil society, and translates dialogue into cooperation. The aims, structure and deliverables of the platform were illustrated by those who make it work: two EU institutions and 24 representatives of the ECESP's Coordination Group.

      Ladeja Godina Košir and Freek van Eijk, ECESP Coordination Group co-chairs

      ECESP from 2017 to today:progress and history
      Open discussion with Paola Migliorini, DG Environment, EESC representative and ECESP co-chairs

      Townhall discussion
      Participants and in-house moderator elaborated upon three key questions
      With members of the ECESP Coordination Group, EESC representative and European Commission representative

      Reporting and closing of the workshop
      ECESP co-chairs

    • Plenary session 1 - 11:00 – 12:00 - Turning circular visions into actions
      The science is clear: material overconsumption is driving the planetary crisis. At the same time many people don’t meet basic well-being thresholds. How can we build a future where well-being soars without accelerating material consumption and its impacts? In the opening plenary, a critical discussion with global policy and thought leaders aimed to help shape an actionable vision for the future role of governance, economics and society in building a just, circular future.

      Organisers: International Resource Panel, Circle Economy Foundation and Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund

      Check the WCEF2024 website for lineup details
    • PS4 - 13:30-14:30 - The circular economy we want for Europe 2024-2029

      Embark on a journey into the future, taking stock of the strides made in the European Union's commitment to the circular economy and reflecting on where we go next. The session offered a critical exploration of the role of the circular economy in tackling climate change and competitiveness in Europe. It focused on identifying gaps in the current policy framework, pinpointing areas that demand urgent EU action to propel the world towards a truly sustainable and resilient future.

      Organiser: European Commission's Directorate-General for Environment

      Pep Rosenfeld, Moderator

      Discussion panel, Q&A
      Florika Fink Hooijer, Director General, DG ENV, European Commission
      Françoise Bonnet, ACR+
      Ambroise Fayolle, Vice-President, EIB
      Pascal Bourguet,VP, International Markets COO and Global Channel Chief, Lenovo
      Sandra Dokic, Secretary of State, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Serbia

      Key takeways - wrapping up
      Pep Rosenfeld, Moderator
    • PS8 - 15:15-16:15 - A legislative framework for sustainable trade

      This session unravelled the transformative effects on Europe and third countries of key European circular economy regulations, such as the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation and its Digital Product Passport requirements, and explored how the EU is preparing to support this shift. Experts analysed the challenges and opportunities for businesses and economies in this dynamic regulatory environment, and gave insights into the future of international trade of sustainable products.

      Organiser: European Commission's Directorate-General for Environment

      Pep Rosenfeld, Moderator

      Discussion panel, Q&A
      Aurel Ciobanu Dordea, Director Circular economy, DG Environment, European Commission
      Sarah Negro, Head of Public Affairs Production, H&M Group
      Dochul Choi, Senior Vice President, Samsung Electronics
      Francesca Poggiali, Chief Public Policy Officer Europe, GS1 Global
      Aik Hoe Lim, Director of Trade and Environment Division, WTO

      Key takeways - wrapping up
      Pep Rosenfeld, Moderator
    • Plenary Session 2 - 16:45-17:45 - European and global perspectives on policy, investment and innovation
      With increasing global demand for natural resources, the transition to a circular economy requires predictable and coherent regional and global policies which trigger innovation and investment. What kinds of policies are needed next to manage the growing demand for natural resources, such as critical raw materials, and how do businesses see the regulatory changes ahead? A high-level discussion to hear more on the role of policy in enhancing the transition to a circular economy.

      Organisers: Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, with the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and European Commission's Directorate-General for Environment

      Check the WCEF2024 website for lineup details
  • Day 2 - 16 April - The Square, Brussels
    • Plenary Session 3 - 09:00-10:00 - Ensuring a peaceful transition
      There are both tensions and opportunities for peace and resilience in the transition to circular economies. Shifting to less extractive and less inter-dependent economic systems introduces geopolitical transition risks over the next 15 years. Simultaneously, circular economic design can be compatible with peacebuilding initiatives aiming for community resilience, socio-economic fabric reconstruction and dialogue support at micro-levels. What are the risks and opportunities that circular economic designers need to be aware of to navigate tensions?

      Organisers: Circle Economy Foundation and International Resource Panel, with Carnegie Europe

      Check the WCEF2024 website for lineup details
    • PS12 - 10:45-11:45 - How can circular business models cater for critical raw materials?

      To do more with what we have, economic and social actors must find the right balance to maximise the value of resources. In Europe, who reconciles circular business models and material governance, and what role do they play? This session gave insights from entrepreneurs with upscaled solutions to close the loop and save critical raw materials.

      Organisers: European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform, with EuRIC, Holland Circular Hotspot, Circular Flanders, RREUSE and European Remanufacturing Council

      Opening remarks
      Florian Marin, EESC Member

      Setting the scene
      Karl Vrancken, Professor Waste Management and Circular Economy - University of Antwerp

      Discussion panel, Q&A
      Claire Downey, Rediscovery Centre 
      Peter Tom Jones, Director of the KU Leuven Institute for Sustainable Metals and Minerals
      Rikarnto Bountis, Senior Technical Adviser - Recycling / Policy
      Owain Griffiths, Head of Circular Economy - Volvo (TBC)

      John Wante, Member of Minister Khattabi cabinet - BE Government
      Janet Kes, Batteries and Quality Assurance Manager - ARN (TBC)
    • PS16 - 13:15-14:15 - Effective and inclusive circular transition governance in cities and regions

      Local and regional authorities wield significant influence over circular systemic changes rooted in community initiatives. Therefore, a bottom-up strategy based on accelerated uptake, replication, scale-up, and monitoring of successful initiatives are key elements in achieving circular economy objectives at all levels of governance. This session highlighted lessons learned on the ground, challenges related to public-private partnerships and network governance, the application and use of financial resources, and methods for monitoring circular transformation.

      Organisers: European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform, with Holland Circular Hotspot, Circular Change, Circular Flanders, RREUSE, European Environment Agency, ACR+ and Interreg MED

      Pep Rosenfeld, Moderator
      Zsolt Kükedi, EESC Member

      Presentation of the Report on ''Accelerating circular economy in Europe. State and outlook 2024"
      Daniel Montalvo, Head of Group Clean and Circular Economy, EEA

      Case study pitch ''Regional and local circular hubs: the case of Flanders’’
      Brigitte Mouligneau, Transition Manager Circular Economy, Circular Flanders

      Discussion panel, Q&A
      Uxue Itoiz, General Director of Energy, RDi and entrepreneurship, Navarra Circular
      Guido Rink, Vice Mayor of Emmen
      Daniela Sani, Senior Project Manager in Sustainable Innovation Area in ART-ER, Emilia Romagna
      Janja Ribič, Slovenian Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Energy

      Closing remarks
      Loredana Capone, President and member of the Regional Council of Puglia, rapporteur for the opinion from the Committee of the Regions on 'the role of local and regional authorities in the transition towards a circular economy'
    • Plenary Session - 14:45-15:45 - Rethinking our futures

      We cannot build a future we cannot imagine. To succeed in these complex times and drive the much-needed fundamental shifts, we need to challenge existing assumptions about the future and explore radically different futures. The closing plenary explored how futures thinking and foresight can add to our ability to drive change, and reflected on the actions presented over the two days of the Conference.

      Organisers: Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund

      Check the WCEF2024 website for lineup details
  • 15 and 16 April - The Square - Exhibition Area
    From visions to actions: Cities, regions and stakeholdersleading the circular transition
    The EU corner in the Exhibition Area hosted some special guests and topics and gave the attendees a chance for lively interaction. 
    See below which topical meetings were held at the ECESP/CCRI booth, with some members of our Coordination Group.
    The European Commission also held two exhibition booths in the WCEF2024 Expo Area - see below for details.
    • 15 April - ECESP/CCRI booth

      Citizen engagement & circular behaviour (with CSCP and the Rediscovery Centre)

      The role of social enterprises in the circular economy (with RREUSE) & the need for economic incentives in the circular economy (with Ecopreneur)

      'ECESP's Textiles Leadership Group - Meet the members and discuss EU policies on textiles' (RREUSE and EuroCommerce)

      Bioeconomy (with INNOWO)
    • 16 April - ECESP/CCRI booth

      ‘Circular batteries for a sustainable and resilient value chain' (with Holland Circular Hotspot)

      The Biodiversity-Climate-nexus (with IUCN)

      Accelerating the circular economy in Europe (with the European Environment Agency)
    • European Commission stands at WCEF2024

      Stand 13 - EU Partnerships: Catalysing the Circular Economy together
      Building a circular economy for Europe is a priority for the European Commission. The Circular Economy Action Plan, launched in 2020, includes a significant international dimension. The European Commission's #WCEF2024 expo stand highlighted key EU policy proposals and showcased selected key initiatives funded by the EU to accelerate the circular economy.

      Key supported initiatives on the circular economy include:

      For example, the Global Alliance on Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency (GACERE), an alliance of governments initiated by the EU providing global impetus for policy initiatives on circular economy; the successful regional and global programmes: SWITCH to Circular Economy Value Chain, SWITCH-Asia, SWITCH Africa Green and SwitchMed; programmes such as EU4Environment and EU4Green support circular development in the neighbourhood.

      Stand 12 - EU funding for circular economy
      The European Commission’s Executive Agency representatives presented the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA), the REA and the EIC, as well as their thematic funding opportunities aiming to build a greener, more sustainable and decarbonised Europe.

      List of projects:

      • CINEA LIFE
      • LIFE-IP Cmartlife (Project)
      • LIFE – PlasPLUS (Project)
      • LIFE Waste to Resources Latvia (Project)


      • EIC
      • ECOSYSTEX (Project)
      • CIRSEAU (Cluster)
      • Circular Plastics (Cluster)
      • BiobasedCert (Cluster)


      • Resortecs (Project)
      • Circularise (Project)
  • 17 April - Belgian Presidency, The Square and other locations
    On 17 April, we took part in the plenary and following sessions:
    Procuring change: Navigating the circular economy through a strategic and social lens
    Towards a circular built environment using bio-based and reclaimed materials
    Information flows in a circular economy: Monitoring, Metrics and Digital Evolution

    View the recordings of the opening speech and panel discussion here

    BE Presidency programme