Executive summary from the report “THE CIRCULARITY GAP REPORT”:
“Today, the global economy is only 8.6% circular — just two years ago it was 9.1%. The global circularity gap is widening. There are reasons for this negative trend, but the result remains the same: the news is not just bad, it is worse. The negative trend overall can be explained by three related, underlying trends: high rates of extraction; ongoing stock build-up; plus, low levels of end-of-use processing and cycling. These trends are embedded deep within the ‘take-make-waste’ tradition of the linear economy — the problems are hardwired. As such, the outlook to close the circularity gap looks bleak under the dead hand of business as usual. We desperately need transformative and correctional solutions; change is a must.
Countries are critical facilitators of the circular economy. This is not because of what they have achieved in the past, but what they could deliver in the future. An initial cohort of countries have engaged with the circular agenda, ranging from individual nation states in Europe, to the giant economy of China. Yet recent years have witnessed a steady stream of new players adopting circular economy policies and roadmaps.
The opportunity is real. The Circularity Gap Report will provide on the ground examples across the globe to illustrate how the practical implementation of circular economy strategies and solutions is an everyday reality — right now. This global groundswell of positive action is happening bottom-up: from waste processing in Nigeria, to a digital solution that empowers informal trash collectors in Brazil. Today, we see entrepreneurs, businesses and communities coming together with city officials leading the way, followed by an increasing number of countries and national governments that are shaping their strategies to support investment towards sustainable and specific circular economy agendas.
We are all developing countries now. Closing the circularity gap serves the higher objective of preventing further and accelerated environmental degradation and social inequality. The end goal is to establish an ecologically safe and socially just operating space for mankind.1 As laid out in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, countries have an important and pivotal role to play.
Some countries operate well within the ecological boundaries of our planet, but without satisfying certain basic social needs. Conversely, other countries increasingly provide basic levels, but do so by overshooting the sustainable means of the planet. Effectively, therefore, all countries are developing now: each starts from a different point on the map; many share commonalities in their journey; but, all have a distance to go.
Different countries, common needs. In principle, all countries are unique when it comes to their ecological footprint and ability to provide for their people. In practice, some face similar barriers and many are confronted with the same global trends. So, zooming in from the global footprint to look at satisfying national, regional and local societal needs, this Circularity Gap Report examines and extrapolates common challenges and opportunities experienced by distinct country groups. When circularity goes from bad to worse, we explore the power of countries to change the global game.”
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