Maribor, Slovenia, May 16th and 17th 2019.
The 4th edition of the International Circular Change Conference was at the same time a celebration of successes and best practices, a meeting of the global “circular community”, and a platform that sent a strong and serious message to change-makers across Europe that more needs to be done to accelerate the change from linear to circular.
Ladeja Godina Košir and Karin Huber-Heim, leaders of the BCSSS Research Group Circular Economy Systems, has been involved in the conference as organizers, speakers and moderators. With their contribution, they strengthen the strong focus of the BCSSS on circular economy that was set in collaboration with Stefan Blachfellner, Managing Director of the BCSSS.
Over 400 participants from over 20 countries, 50 speakers and over 25 partners and co-organisers have shown that there is real change happening “on the ground”. Slovenia is firmly among the leaders of the circular transition in Europe.
It has been made clear – we do need each other in order to make sustainable,
circular transition happen. We need an inter-generational agreement, we need radical collaboration, we need to listen to each other – and even more important – hear each other.
Marjan Šarec, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia and the honorary sponsor of the conference emphasized in his speech: circular economy is certainly one of the answers to the complex challenges of our time. Although we are thinking globally, change must begin with each one of us, at our homes and places of work.
A sustainable, circular economy is the only way forward.
That is why Circular Change and its co-organizers have invited the representatives of the Youth for Climate Justice Slovenia to open the two-day circular journey. Their message was clear – there is no Planet B and our decisions are shaping the future of our civilisation, of our planet. Although the conference pointed to many positive developments, we should not forget the very serious truth: the circular economy is far from being a reality and true impact on the global scale is yet to happen. The state of our environment keeps deteriorating.
The only true global agreement for sustainable development are the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Achieving them means addressing our needs as humans and they should be integrated to the very heart of our decision-making, stressed the Chair of Circular Change’s Honorary Council Dr. Janez Potočnik, former European Commissioner for Environment (2010-2014).
The EU Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc, who refered to the BCSSS in her opening, sent an upbeat message with her keynote: The upcoming eco-civilisation is the only possible one: solving the divide between man’s economic endeavours and the impact he has on the environment will result in a happier, freer and more spiritual society.
Businesses are taking sustainability seriously and are tying their business goals to SDGs. Although no one will deny that there is much work to be done and that there will be missteps along the way, the best practices presented proved that companies are fast becoming part of the global circular transition. Creativity is the driving force of change – circular design is the first step when reshaping linear business models into circular ones. A new narrative is needed – stories we can identify with, practices we can implement, circular solutions that are appealing.
Luca Jahier, President of the European Economic and Social Committee was clear:
The European Union must continue leading in facilitating the exchange of knowledge,
ideas and stories. Only the engagement of all stakeholders leads to change.
Circular economy platforms and organisations can play a key role in leveraging collaboration and engagement.
Among them is the BCSSS partner Circular Change, who is enabling collaboration on the national and international level. One of the many initiatives Circuale Change takes part in is the Circular Hotspot Network, introduced by the Netherlands during their EU presidency. The collaboration with the Doshisha University in Kyoto brought Prof. Tadashi Yagi to Slovenia, opening yet another opportunity for the exchange of knowledge and ideas and a resulting Springer publication for the further development of the Kyoto Manifesto for Global Economics – the Platform of Community, Humanity, and Spirituality. BCSSS president Alexander Laszlo, Research leader Karin Huber-Heim, Ladeja Kosir and Stefan Blachfellner have been invited to contribute to the Kyoto Manifesto II that confronts the failings of current global economics to deliver the equity, sustainability and community empowerment which humanity now needs and proposes an economy built from our society, not the other way around.
The future is now.
We need to begin experimenting with circular solutions in our own companies and homes. However, we must think globally and benefit from a “polyphony of values”.