Transitioning to circularity as a key to attain the SDGs

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Circular Economy representation



Successfully limiting global temperature rise to as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times is not going to be an easy task.

Signatories to the Paris treaty are still not close to meeting this target as evident on their initially submitted NDC Nationally determined contribution reports early last year. The circular economy is important towards achieving the SDGs because it enables more efficient use of resources and driving sustainable consumption and production, as well as inclusive and sustainable industrialization, contributes significantly to combating and mitigating climate change and achieving climate neutrality; halting and reversing biodiversity loss and pollution; and creating enabling conditions for business and decent jobs.

Transitioning to a circular economy has proven to be the best way out towards hitting this target as it ensures the avoidance of excessive consumption, waste, and use of fossil fuels by leasing, reusing, repairing, and recycling existing materials and products.

So far, it has been proven that the extraction and processing of natural resources cause half of the global emissions and over 90% of biodiversity loss.

On the occasion of the World Circular Economy Forum held in April last year, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa urged all Parties especially major emitters to work towards increasing their efforts at meeting the goals of the Paris Treaty.

“The circular economy plays a definitive role here. It must expand if we are to reduce emissions across sectors as it is an essential component to achieving climate neutrality.” She added

On his part, UN Climate Change Deputy Executive Secretary, Ovais Sarmad, highlighted the role of the circular economy in implementing the Paris Agreement in the following words

“The Paris Agreement calls for a transformation of our production and consumption patterns –particularly in developed countries. That means circular economy principles: using fewer resources, more sustainable materials, and recycling the ones we have used. Energy supply, transport, buildings, and waste management remain priority sectors for immediate climate action.”

According to the World Circular Economy Forum, Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our times. A circular economy can play an important role in addressing this crisis. By designing out waste, avoiding pollution, and keeping materials in use as long as possible, we can reduce climate emissions by about 20%. To achieve climate neutrality, we need to look beyond energy efficiency and all work towards a circular shift across the world.

With a shift towards the circular economy, they are increased chances for the UN SDGs to be achieved by 2030 across sectors globally. It is with this consciousness that, leaders from government, business, and civil society from all corners of our planet committed to bold action, scaled up their commitments, and shared best practices for a just transition to a circular economy during the forum. Specifically, they demonstrated their commitment to developing, implementing, and enhancing circular economy policies, strategies, and solutions, and in doing so, complementing ongoing actions and efforts on mitigation and adaptation to achieve climate neutrality.

Concretely, a transition to circularity will enable for the attainment of set goals as far as Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8 on decent work and economic growth; SDG 9 on inclusive and sustainable industrialization, resilient infrastructure and innovation; SDG 12 on ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns; and SDG 13 on climate action are concerned.

How will this be achieved?

According to participants at the WCEF, this can only be achieved through collaboration and inclusion. They added that, collaboration, innovative partnerships, and enabling conditions, along the value chain, in order to catalyze these efforts. As far as inclusion is concerned, they highlighted the need for effective consultation and inclusion of youths, women, and other marginalized groups in the just transition to a circular economy and climate neutrality in their climate action statement

What has been achieved this far almost a year after the forum?

Read more on the next article in this series

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