In the wake of COP28, which called upon parties to transition away from fossil fuels, the World Circular Economy Forum 2024 (WCEF2024) emerges as a landmark event that highlights the circular economy as the premier post-fossil fuel investment frontier.
WCEF2024 will take place in Brussels, Belgium from 15-18 April, and convenes thousands of experts to explore the vast opportunities that the circular economy presents.
The transition from fossil fuels to renewables is imperative, yet alongside this, a strong focus on circularity is also needed.
This means we must commit to manage all materials more sustainably, reducing dependence on fragile supply chains and alleviating pressure on nature. The opportunities in the circular economy are enormous. According to Circle Economy Foundation’s global “Circularity Gap Report 2024” which was published today, the global economy is currently only 7.2% circular, emphasising the untapped economic potential in this transformational shift.
“We are convinced that the next big play in the investment arena we’ll see is around circular solutions,” states Atte Jääskeläinen, president of the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, the initiator of WCEF. “Regulations are essential for steering investment flows towards circularity, which is crucial for the sustainable development of societies. This shift is necessary to tackle overconsumption of natural resources.”
This year, the landmark event of the circular economy underlines the world’s extraordinary opportunities after the decisions made in the UN’s Climate Change Conference COP28 in Dubai last December. The final outcomes of COP28 noted circular economy approaches as a tool in the transition to sustainable patterns of consumption and production.
The co-chair of the UN’s International Resource Panel (IRP) Janez Potočnik notes that it is possible to mitigate growth in resource use while growing the economy, reducing inequality, improving well-being, and significantly reducing environmental impacts. “Our economic system is wasteful and unjust. Material (over)use is a main element of global sustainability and equality challenges deserving proper policy attention.”
Initial findings of the IRP’s upcoming flagship report, the “Global Resources Outlook 2024”, show the undeniable need for a circular economy: The use of new (virgin) materials has continued to grow on average over 2.3 per cent per year. Without urgent and concerted action to change the way resources are used, material resource extraction could increase by almost 60 per cent from current levels by 2060, from 100 to 160 billion tonnes.
“After decisions made in the COP28, there is plenty of room for wiser, circular solutions among global systems – for example in agrifood, mobility and consumables”, says Ivonne Bojoh, CEO of Circle Economy Foundation. “We must reform our finance and labour policies to put in place lasting and impactful changes that address the root cause of climate change and social inequity.”