- Circular Economy in Africa promotes more sustainable production/consumption practices
- Financial backup is necessary to support value chain adoption of sustainable practices
- Europe launches SWITCH to the green facility to meet UN Sustainable Development Goals SDGs
If the world is to achieve the 2030 development goals, African countries must institute government-backed efforts to switch to the sustainable Circular Economy model of production/consumption.
The circular economy is a model of sustainable production and consumption that shifts economic growth from resource consumption to more sustainable approaches. For example, the Circular economy demands designing products for longer use and ease of repair rather than consumption, a profit-oriented approach that produces short life products to force resell.
Economy experts describe the circular economy model as a new paradigm for business that aims to achieve economic growth through new sustainable business models.
There are various factors that influence the transition to the circular economy including market awareness, behaviour change, greater access to data and regularization of informal activities.
For the circular economy to work, it requires rational practices by all parties of any given product value chains, from producers all the way to the consumer, all are responsible. In this regard, multinational companies (MNCs) are key because they have long value chains including their suppliers, consumers, and even financial and government institutions.
To meet global circularity goals, as articulated in Sustainable Goal Number 12 ‘Responsible Production and Consumption,’ circular economy principles require extremely close cooperation between the MNCs and Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) suppliers who are mostly in developing countries.
However, the trouble is that SMEs are reluctant to switch from Linear economy models because they are profitable in the short run. To ensure this noble goal is met, there is dire need for funding to support sustainable production approaches.
In a recent report, financial stakeholders said; “Finance is a key enabler for the deployment of innovative solutions, so it is critical for the African Development Bank to anchor and nurture the circular economy as a bankable business model for Africa.”
In the report, Al-Hamndou Dorsouma, Officer-in-Charge for the African Development Bank’s climate change and green growth department said the circular economy offers a low-carbon and climate-compatible development strategy with strong adaptation benefits for the continent.
“Accelerating the circular economy transition requires increased access to finance and stronger partnerships,” he insisted.
Recently, the European Commission and the African Circular Economy Alliance organized a stakeholder event to promote the circular economy model. The event highlighted the long-standing economic partnership between Africa and Europe but underlined the need to change the traditional production and consumption models that have brought the world to the brink of extinction.
Speaking at the event, the Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union, Josefa Sacko, said a shift to a circular economy is impossible without dynamic regional cooperation.
However, the expert also pointed out that should the shift be achieved then “…the circular economy could help Africa achieve Agenda 2063 by reducing reliance on imports, enhancing resource efficiency, innovation and job creation.”
His European counterpart, the European Commissioner Virginius Sinkevicius seconded the views and agreed that “…Europe cannot solve the global environmental crises alone.”
Rwanda To Host World Circular Economy Forum 2022
Rwanda is scheduled to host this year’s World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF2022) which takes place for the very first time in Africa.
The World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF) is an annual high-level event that brings together thousands of business leaders, policymakers and experts from countries all over the world to present the world’s best circular economy solutions.
The event is expected to take place in early October in Rwanda’s capital Kigali. The WCEF2022 will be hosted jointly by the Republic of Rwanda, the African Circular Economy Alliance (ACEA) and The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra along with international partners.
In his comments about the upcoming meeting, Rwanda’s Minister of Environment, Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya; “The circular economy can be a game-changer for Africa’s development. The World Circular Economy Forum 2022 is an opportunity for Rwanda and the continent as a whole to showcase our traditions of environmental stewardship, and to explore ways of making the transition to a fully circular economy a reality.”
The WCEF2022 is expected to showcase some of the world’s best circular economy solutions. Delegates at the forum are expected to discuss how businesses from Africa can best utilize new opportunities and gain a competitive advantage in the transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient economies.
Africa has its own entity to promote a circular economy, the African Circular Economy Alliance (ACEA). ACEA is a government-led coalition of African nations with a mission to spur Africa’s transformation to a circular economy.
The ACEA came into being in 2016 during the World Economic Forum on Africa. The body is charged with leading the development of Africa’s circular economy and the related development opportunities.
The Alliance is a platform that supports the transition to a circular economy at the national, regional, and continental levels through policy development, leadership and advocacy, and support in scaling circular businesses and projects.
SWITCH to Green Facility: EU’s Project to promote Circular Economy
To push and advocate to circular economy uptake around the globe, the European Union (EU) launched the SWITCH to Circular Economy Value Chains project. The SWITCH to Green (S2G) project is designed to accelerate the uptake of circular practices.
SWITCH aims to improve the business environment and targets value chain actors to increase awareness as the basis to facilitate transformation.
“The overall objective is to support the circular economy transition, thereby contributing to sustainable growth, low carbon and climate-resilient development, decent jobs’ creation, and safer, healthier and pollution-free environment,”
The project is designed to deliver tools and services to support the overall coherence and coordination of the EU international partnerships in the green circular economy model. The SWITCH to Green Facility experts work to provide direct support in integrating the Circular Economy across the related value chains from the producers to the final consumers.
The S2G team supports policy dialogue and exchange of experience across EU partner countries and work to support promotional and awareness events ranging from technical meetings to high-level policy debates.
In the context of Africa, S2G will support ongoing work by the African Circular Economy Alliance (ACEA) to promote and facilitate the switch to the greener more sustainable Circular Economy model of production and consumption.