The first Circular Economy Forum of the Americas (CEFA2017) took place successfully in Medellin, Colombia on November 29th and 30th, 2017. CEFA 2017 was one of the priorities of the Circular Economy Platform of the Americas (CEP-Americas), who organized the event impeccably in one of the most inspiring places in Medellin. Namely, at the Botanical Garden of the city. By the way, Medellin is a beautiful city, with high quality architecture, generous public spaces and trees. I was impressed by the way the human scale and nature are always present.
The CEFA 2017 event was a milestone for our region. It was attended by the most important schools of the Circular Economy, from Bill McDonough (Cradle to Cradle), Ken Webster (Ellen MacArthur Foundation), Lewis Perkins (Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute -C2CPII) and Mark Dorfman (Biomimicry 3.8). In addition, representatives of the Government of Medellin, some universities and companies also attended. Listening to the "Triple Helix" of Colombia debating solutions for the Circular Economy in the American countries was a great inspiration to continue looking for solutions also in Brazil. Another thing that drew attention were the parallel events of the Forum, with the presence of multilateral agencies including UNDP and the IDB.
The debates were broad and focused in two main areas: First, the different ways of acting for the implementation of the Circular Economy (CE) in the countries of the Americas (maintaining the consistency and anchoring it to the foundations of the CE) and second, definitions of CE, specific strategies and priorities in the context of this continent. Of particular importance was the social and economic role of CE in developing countries, respecting the local conditions from the biodiversity of the natural ecosystem to the communities and cultures of our region.
My contribution participating in the discussion panel THE SOCIAL BENEFITS OF THE TRANSITION TO A CIRCULAR ECONOMY, was based on presenting my work in the social benefits of the Circular Economy for developing countries (see www.tearfund.org/circular). It was very well received and triggered insights for this new frontier of the circular economic paradigm.
Overall, the case studies presented how the "circularity" of existing local initiatives in the reality of countries such as Brazil (mainly in networks of waste pickers cooperatives and large industry, informal activities of reuse, maintenance and product-service systems, alliances between local craftsmen, designers and industrial associations, composting of urban organic waste and urban agriculture, and the production of biogas in agroecology for family farming in rural areas) can revolutionize the model of sustainable development and give the opportunity to "leapfrog" to a model of "socially inclusive circular economy ".
Additionally, and of great importance for CEP-Americas, it was a great opportunity for the founding members of the platform, to be present and be together debating the strategies and priorities of the Platform for 2018. At this moment, the leadership of Kevin de Cuba, founder of CEP-Americas and main coordinator of the entire CEFA2017 event was crucial and continues to show the commitment for the transition of the American countries to a Circular Economy to be something that produces a new type of global equilibrium for sustainable development.
In 2018, we have the challenge of the second CEFA meeting in Chile and to consolidate the CEP-Americas platform to implement actions and initiatives in the continent, with a clear and consistent model of action that is horizontal and effective. Many things to do, but now with the representatives of all the countries of the continent acting together. With renewed energy and enthusiasm, 2018 will be the year of Circular Economy of the Americas!
[i] Alexandre is Director and Co-founder of EPEA Brasil. EPEA Brasil core competence is to help local organizations to close the loop of their products and eliminate de concept of waste, applying Cradle to Cradle® as a conceptual and scientific framework in Brazil
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