Date: Wednesday, 4 November 2020
The UN One Planet Network Sustainable Buildings and Construction programme initiated a study to understand the current state of play with regard to circularity in the built environment in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America and Oceania. These studies show that the different regions are in various states of transition to circular economies, but that Europe is leading, largely due to having been engaged in this transition process for at least a decade. Other regions are still grappling with considering what circularity actually means for them and proactively drafting supporting policies and programmes with the goal of transitioning to a low carbon future.
The question is not where to from here, rather how fast do we need to transition to circularity?
Good practices exist and the benefits are evident. To avoid a repeat of the same lock-in approaches, current challenges need to be overcome. Building knowledge, awareness and understanding around new and existing developments underpinned by a circular thinking approach is urgently needed. Some quick wins to achieve this are changes in legislation and regulation, improved building standards that focus on the end of life of buildings, changes in procurement practices and increased stringencies where environmental impacts are now only marginally considered.
This interactive Special track discusses the opportunities that the transition to circular economy provide. Case studies from different regions can be localised, replicated and scaled up. Reuse and recycling is expected to improve, even leading to upcycling. Examples of sharing economy can spread. In a world that has been touched deeply by the coronovirus pandemic, shifts in the ways of working have already occurred. As industry practices are transiting to a 'new normal' supported by governments, it is timely to also consider the advantages of moving to circular built environments.
Moderator: Pekka Huovila