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Circular economy contributes to attaining SDGs

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) brought together public and private stakeholders to discuss how circular economy approaches can create global environmental benefits by developing green industries.

“UNIDO promotes circular economy practices and delivers services that address the complete cycle of making and using products, and of disposing of used products – from raw materials extraction to production, distribution, use, waste management and final disposal – so that resources are used over and over as a result of innovative practices,” Director of UNIDO's Department of Environment  Stephan Sicars said on the margins of the 6th Global Environment Facility Assembly .

Professor Ricardo Barra, Member of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel and Dean of the Faculty of Environmental Sciences at Chile's University of Concepción, concurred: “the linear model of take-make-use-dispose is a primary driver of natural resource depletion, waste, environmental degradation and climate change. It has adverse human health effects and significant global environmental benefits could be gained, for instance, by applying circular approaches for production, use and disposal of plastics.”

Panelists and commentators from the audience mentioned that circular economy is directly linked to a number of interventions currently supported by the GEF, such as green chemistry, eco-industrial parks, industrial symbiosis and resource efficiency, and sustainable cities. Joint Secretary for International Cooperation of the Indian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Nikunja K. Sundaray said: “India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change incorporates circular approaches for green industry development, environmental protection, and the Green India Mission that focuses on multiple ecosystem services, especially, biodiversity, water, biomass, preserving mangroves, wetlands, critical habitats, etc. along with carbon sequestration as a co-benefit as well as job creation.”

Le Thi Ngoc My, Heineken Viet Nam’s Head of Sustainability, said: “In 2017, 99% of Heineken Viet Nam’s inputs were re-used or recycled, with only about 1% lost or sent to landfill – diverting more than 235,473 tons of waste. Moreover, the company bought over 52,800 tons of rice husk – valued at approximately VND 42.2 billion – to power its operations, generating 100% thermal energy for four of our six breweries.”

Alejandro Nario Carvalho, Uruguay's National Director of Environment, Ministry of Housing, Land Planning and Environment, and GEF Operational Focal Point, said: “The Circular Opportunities Programme focusing on food, tanneries, plastics, viticulture and the construction sector was launched in collaboration with UNIDO in April 2018. I appreciate UNIDO’s leadership and its role in promoting circular economy approaches in Uruguay, and globally.”

Similarly, circular economy approaches can be a driving force that contributes to a great number of SDGs, including goals 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15. In addition, circularity is already a priority in the global agenda as illustrated by the considerable interest expressed by international institutions, such as the EU with its Action Plan for the Circular Economy, or the G20 Circular Economy Task Force.

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