Written by Pietro Curatola,
President and founder of JUMP, Project Manager
Thanks to the EC experts involved by JUMP as a partner in the Erasmus Plus project entitled CI-YOU – Circular Economy Youth Leaders ( Prog. No. 2020-3-BE05-KA205-003110) and in particular thanks to the insights of Professor Umberto Triulzi (La Sapienza – Rome), I was able to learn of the existence of an important study paper produced by World Bank Group staff.
“Squaring the circle: Policies from Europe’s Circular Economy Transition” is the title of the document.
This is the World Bank’s first comprehensive report that provides an assessment of the problem, and proposes solutions to decouple growth from material consumption.
This report proposes a policy framework to bridge the gap between envisioning and implementing the circularity transition. Its main aim is to contribute to the development of reforms and investments accelerating CBMs and limiting linear ‘take-make-use-waste’ activities.
The focus is on the EU and its MSs, with particular attention paid to Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland, and Romania (EU4). The EU is a frontrunner in the CE agenda and plays a global role in ‘exporting’ it, through both the sheer weight of the single market and its role as a global environmental standards maker. The report showcases the EU’s significant achievements as well as aspects to consider for accelerating the circularity transition, with a view to contributing to policy development inside the EU and sharing lessons with countries outside the bloc. The report therefore targets not only EU policy makers but also a global audience willing to learn from the EU’s experience.
This important paper is structured in six chapters, complemented by an annex with sectoral deep dives and focus sections dedicated to thematic issues.
The report is based on different methodological approaches. Most of the research is based on the analysis and elaboration of official data as well as desk research and a literature review, including a review of policies, strategies, and action plans. In addition, a survey has been conducted among key stakeholders in the CE in various EU MSs, the results of which are integrated into the different chapters. Results on the economics of circularity (Chapter 5) and partly of the trade implications (Chapter 3) are based on a unique global CGE exercise using the ‘environmental impact and sustainability applied general equilibrium’ (ENVISAGE) model.
The geographical coverage of the modeling exercise included the 27 EU countries (EU-27), European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland), and theUnited Kingdom.
The report does not aim to provide a comprehensive treatment of challenges and potential solutions. The complexity of the circular transition and its systemwide nature cannot be easily covered within a single piece. The report does not cover all economic sectors. The report examines the EU’s experience in furthering the circular economy agenda to elicit lessons that can benefit countries within and beyond Europe’s borders, showing that achieving material decoupling is possible through a far-reaching suite of policies aimed at creating the incentives to ensure an adequate pricing of natural resources; providing information allowing economic actors to take better decisions; enabling institutions to mainstream circularity as a whole-of-government agenda; and unlocking investments to support uptake among producers and consumers.