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Medellin: Towards a Circular Economy

Last November 29th and 30th, Circular Economy actors from all over Latin America and beyond were invited to participate in the Circular Economy Forum of the Americas (CEFA2017) which took place at the Botanical Garden of Medellin, Colombia.

CEFA is an initiative organized by the Circular Economy Platform of the Americas (CEP-Americas) and powered by the Americas Sustainable Development Foundation (ASDF).

Entrepreneurs, academics, large companies, civil society actors, national and local governments converged on the event to share their views on circular economy, experiences and, in some cases, proposing work agendas.

Circular Economy, what are we talking about?

During the first day, sessions focused on answering the question: What is circular economy?

Nicola Cerantola, founder of Ecologing shared a very inspiring definition:

“The Circular Economy is not waste management, but the ambitious search of socio-economic mechanisms to regenerate natural ecosystems and which can foster wellbeing, health and happiness for all”

The social aspects of the circular economy were also evident. A significant number of jobs can be generated by its principles, but these jobs must offer high-quality and rewarding job conditions.

Another important social issue is the consideration of the needs of end users, including vulnerable populations, in this way circular economy can have a good rate of adoption and a positive impact at the social level.

The benefits of a Circular Economy for the American Continent

The second day focused on the opportunities that the circular economy can bring to the Americas, that meant thinking about how to implement and make a Circular Economy a reality, considering the diversity of contexts in the Americas.

Islands such as Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia and Aruba shared the specific challenges they face (such as talent drain, food security, high vulnerability to climate change) and how thes challenges lead to develop cutting-edge experiences.

Another session focused on cities, which already concentrate most of the world's population and where huge amounts of waste are generated, and the most energy is spent. Experiences such as Kaptar (recycling incentives) and Low Carbon City (creation of low carbon neighbourhoods) show us that it is necessary to involve all the stakeholders (companies, citizens, public actors) to achieve results.

Circular Economy experiences in the Americas

CEFA2017 was also the opportunity to meet actors who are already working on the Circular Economy transition in the continent. I had the opportunity to participate in the Forum representing EmprendeSocial and conducted some interviews which are shared:

  • Vrica, Furniture design made with material that can return to the ground after being used. Listen to interview here (Spanish).

  • Valopes, materials data management along the whole supply chain. Listen to interview here (Spanish)

  • National Cleaner Production Center of Colombia, Sustainable production and consumption consulting. Listen to interview here (Spanish).

  • El Transformador, organization that makes sustainability possible in various contexts such as companies, homes, events and cities. Listen to interview here (Spanish).

  • Biomimicry 3.8 consulting organization seeks inspiration in nature to find alternatives to the use of toxic chemicals in businesses. Listen to interview here (English).

Now, the challenge is that these actors can be stronger and stronger. This dynamic started with CEFA’s first edition and will be strengthened in the next Forum in Chile. See you there!

[i] This blog post was extracted with permission of the author from EmprendeSocial website

© Copyright 2017 Americas Sustainable Development Foundation (ASDF). All Rights Reserved.

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