WCEF 2019: The challenges and potentials of circular procurement in cities

Increasing population growth and urbanisation intensifies the pressure on cities globally. In addition, resources are used inefficiently in the current linear system, which makes cities largely unsustainable. Considering their high concentration of citizens and businesses, and the ability of city administrations to enact large societal transitions, cities should seize their potential as cradles and catalysts for circular change.

Two weeks ago, EIT Climate-KIC’s Circular Cities project hosted a side session on Innovative Circular Procurement in Cities at the World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF) in Helsinki, Finland. The session introduced five speakers with hands-on expertise in circular procurement and the rationale for an approach to circularity in cities.

In order to highlight the important role of public authorities in the transition to a circular economy, a white paper on circular procurement in public construction projects was launched at the session. The report was produced as part of the EIT Climate-KIC Circular Cities project and was launched by Leona Silberstein, City of Helsinki.

DOWNLOAD THE WHITE PAPER

The City of Helsinki has pledged to integrate sustainability in 100 per cent of its procurement processes by 2020, and scaling-up already existing solutions and processes were highlighted both throughout the main WCEF conference, as well as the side session on circular procurement in cities. At the same time, implementation is not always without difficulties.

“When you do new things, you make mistakes. But we learn from them,” said Silberstein. “It is all about taking action and daring to try and learn from the mistakes and successes.”

Linear to circular

One of the key messages from several speakers during the WCEF was that circular procurement is one of the main tools that cities should use to transition from a linear to a circular economy. The circular procurement white paper also underlines that circular procurement can be the instrument to address many of the pressing waste and circularity challenges facing growing cities today, including reducing waste, rethinking resources and creating green growth.

Circular procurement will accelerate the circular transition and can thereby lead to not only creating new jobs, but also to improving circular investment and entrepreneurship, as well as the liveability and attractiveness of cities.

According to Roy Vercoulen, Founder of Circular IQ, our current resource use is a huge problem on a global scale:

“The amount of resources we take from the earth has tripled in the past years and 91 per cent of all the material we mine is wasted”.

He continued: “We need to help the right people accelerate change in the right direction, and there is huge potential in cities and governments, as procurement professionals, to act as agents for change.”

Changing the mindsets and practices of procurement is key, as cities can create demand and be the launching customer for products and services, according to Oriana Romano from OECD. Charlotte Breen, Head of Green Growth at C40, was on a similar line: “Circular procurement practices can push new innovation and green growth – if a city would demand electric buses, there will be a shift in the market and service flows.”

From vision to action

The City of Helsinki has an ambitious aim of becoming carbon neutral by 2035. According to Mira Jarkko from the City of Helsinki, the new programme offers an umbrella for the city’s circular economy activities:

“We need to take a look at our resources in a totally different way and to allocate them accordingly, in a way we’re not used to. Circular economy allows us to distribute these resources more efficiently and effectively than we have in the past.”

For the City of Helsinki, improvements in energy efficiency, investments in renewable energy and retrofitting are high on the circular economy agenda.

While cities can guide markets and service flows by implementing circular procurement practices, organisations like Circular IQ can help procurement officials actualise their circular economy visions. To date, they have helped allocate €430 million of government purchasing budgets to circular procurement in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Making goals and visions related to circular economy more tangible is important for a successful transition, as is being clear on how to measure these targets. While ambitious targets set the stage for clearer focus, they may sometimes prove unattainable for the set timeframe.

“If we don’t achieve some of our targets, we don’t want to put these under the carpet, but instead, place them on the table as our next set of goals,” said Alice Grindhammer, Co-founder and CEO of CRCLR.   

Game changer

While public authorities, cities and organisations are key to transitioning towards integrated circularity practices, the public also has an important role to play. At times, however, the subject matter might be hard to grasp, which can hinder implementing circularity on a societal level simply due to the lack of knowledge.

To make the subject of circularity more tangible and approachable, Serious Games Interactive has specialised in combining learning, games and technology in digital learning experiences in order to deliver real impact.

“We need to understand the subject in a rational, emotional, physical and more tangible way. We also need to take the information and turn it into knowledge, and then turn that knowledge into behaviour. Finally, we need to turn that behaviour into real action,” said PJ Kuczynski, Creative Director at Serious Games Interactive.

As an interactive finale to the session on Circular Procurement in Cities, the audience took part in one of Serious Games’ prototype games on circularity in cities called the Mayor’s Table.

In the game, the audience became the mayor of the City of Helsinki and got a first-hand experience of what their decisions about circular topics would mean for the future of Helsinki – including its economic, social and environmental realities.   

As a continuation to the WCEF collaboration, Serious Games Interactive will develop a pilot game for the Circular Cities project using the 10 bottlenecks identified in the circular procurement white paper. The pilot will be available for testing in September 2019.

 

For more information on the circular procurement white paper and about EIT Climate-KIC’s work with Circular Cities, please contact Peter Vangsbo, Circular Cities and Business Developer Lead. For pictures from the WCEF and the session on Circular Procurement in Cities, please follow the link below.

GET IN TOUCHPICTURES

 
Location
Finland
Related Goal
Goal 9: Reboot regional economies
Articles you may be interested in
In The News
A new air and climate plan for Milan

The City Council of Milan approved the Air and...

A new air and climate plan for Milan
In The News
Meet the three EIT Climate-KIC innovators nominated for EIT Awards

Three innovators from EIT Climate-KIC’s community have been nominated...

Meet the three EIT Climate-KIC innovators nominated for EIT Awards
In The News
100 European cities take up the challenge to become carbon neutral by 2030

On Monday 13 June, the representatives of the 100...

100 European cities take up the challenge to become carbon neutral by 2030
In The News
The role of cities and regions in transforming wood value chains

Climate smart forest economies It’s a crucial decade for...

The role of cities and regions in transforming wood value chains
In The News
Glasgow City Region pioneering forest economy innovation to drive climate acti...

Scotland’s largest city region is actively tackling climate change...

Glasgow City Region pioneering forest economy innovation to drive climate action
In The News
Forging sustainable timber construction in Europe

EIT Climate-KIC and Built by Nature, announce an initiative...

Forging sustainable timber construction in Europe
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC launches new Circularity Thinking training programme

EIT Climate-KIC is launching Circularity Thinking courses to tackle...

EIT Climate-KIC launches new Circularity Thinking training programme
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC announces four winners of EIT Community Booster

EIT Climate-KIC selected four cleantech start-ups to be part...

EIT Climate-KIC announces four winners of EIT Community Booster
In The News
Science reveals last paths to stop irreversible planetary damage

Climate change is going to get worse, but curbing global warming is...

Science reveals last paths to stop irreversible planetary damage
In The News
EIT Community presents New European Bauhaus Ideation Awards winners

Supported by the EIT Community, the New European Bauhaus...

EIT Community presents New European Bauhaus Ideation Awards winners
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC joins forces with the Government of Ireland to stimulate clima...

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Marine of...

EIT Climate-KIC joins forces with the Government of Ireland to stimulate climate innovation in the agri-food sector
In The News
Climate Lab: EIT Climate-KIC co-initiates hotspot for Vienna’s climate ambit...

Climate Lab in Vienna will give climate actors an...

Climate Lab: EIT Climate-KIC co-initiates hotspot for Vienna’s climate ambitions
In The News
Seven takeaways from the latest IPCC report

On 28 February, the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6)...

Seven takeaways from the latest IPCC report
In The News
EIT launches new Global Outreach website

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has...

EIT launches new Global Outreach website
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC and Amazon launch call for sustainable start-ups

Working on transformative, systemic innovation to accelerate a net-zero...

EIT Climate-KIC and Amazon launch call for sustainable start-ups
In The News
Votes open for the 2021 New European Bauhaus Ideation Awards – Audience Awar...

Do you want to support innovative solutions that integrate...

Votes open for the 2021 New European Bauhaus Ideation Awards – Audience Award
In The News
Brill Power’s new innovation radically increases battery life and storag...

Brill Power, supported by EIT Climate-KIC, has launched the...

Brill Power’s new innovation radically increases battery life and storage capacity
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC CEO Dr. Kirsten Dunlop gives TEDx Talk

EIT Climate-KIC CEO Dr. Kirsten Dunlop delivered a talk,...

EIT Climate-KIC CEO Dr. Kirsten Dunlop gives TEDx Talk
In The News
Putting theory into practice: EIT Climate-KIC Pioneer innovating the Greek mar...

To tackle complex climate challenges, we need a broader...

Putting theory into practice: EIT Climate-KIC Pioneer innovating the Greek maritime sector
In The News
EIT launches call for proposals to boost innovation in Higher Education Instit...

Unlocking the potential of higher education institutions for innovation...

EIT launches call for proposals to boost innovation in Higher Education Institutions
In The News
Dolomites forging climate resilience

The Italian Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are...

Dolomites forging climate resilience
In The News
People-powered resilience: Andalusia announces new climate action plan

The region’s climate action plan has been announced, with...

People-powered resilience: Andalusia announces new climate action plan
In The News
Built by Nature: new initiative to accelerate the transition to sustainable co...

The built environment accounts for close to 40 per...

Built by Nature: new initiative to accelerate the transition to sustainable construction in cities
In The News
The State of California and EIT Climate-KIC advance partnership for climate in...

Glasgow, 8 November – The California Governor’s Office of...

The State of California and EIT Climate-KIC advance partnership for climate innovation
In The News
COP26: UN Climate Change and EIT Climate-KIC partner to establish new Global I...

A new digital Global Innovation Hub has been launched at...

COP26: UN Climate Change and EIT Climate-KIC partner to establish new Global Innovation Hub
In The News
ClimateLaunchpad announces 2021 competition winners

EIT Climate-KIC’s ClimateLaunchpad – the world’s largest green business...

ClimateLaunchpad announces 2021 competition winners
In The News
EIT Cross-KIC New European Bauhaus launches Ideation – Deadline Extended

EIT Climate-KIC has launched a call for ideas on...

EIT Cross-KIC New European Bauhaus launches Ideation – Deadline Extended
In The News
Call for proposals: Scaling the New European Bauhaus Ventures

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has...

Call for proposals: Scaling the New European Bauhaus Ventures
In The News
Glasgow City Region in the race to resilience

Glasgow, which is hosting this year’s UN Climate Change...

Glasgow City Region in the race to resilience
In The News
Gipuzkoa’s quest for sustainability

Gipuzkoa, the smallest Spanish province located in the Basque...

Gipuzkoa’s quest for sustainability