On 19 October 2022, the Circular Cities and Regions Initiative (CCRI) held its first Coordination and Support Workshop for around 120 online and on-site participants in Brussels. The workshop gathered the CCRI stakeholders – namely the Pilots, Fellows, Associated Partners and CCRI Projects – together with representatives of the Commission and the CCRI Coordination and Support Office (CCRI-CSO).
Session 1: Setting the scene
Participants were welcomed by Jan Maarten De Vet, representing the CCRI-CSO. Following Mr De Vet’s speech, Pavel Misiga (Head of Unit for Circular Economy and Biobased Systems at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, or DG R&I) set the scene, outlining the challenges of living sustainably and transitioning to a circular economy. He highlighted that the CCRI is not yet another EU initiative for cities, but a comprehensive scheme that enables all stakeholders to connect and collaborate. He therefore invited all CCRI stakeholders to become ‘actors of change’ and lead the circular economy transition in European cities and regions.
The session also included a speech by Kata Tüttő (Deputy Mayor of Budapest and Chair of the Commission for the Environment, Climate Change and Energy at the Committee of the Regions), who presented examples of how Budapest was addressing different challenges in its transition towards a circular economy, as well as other inspiring initiatives from across Europe.
Lucie Blondel from the European Commission (DG R&I) gave participants a general overview of the CCRI scheme and its aims. The CCRI was presented as a ‘full package’ that not only provides knowledge, but combines technical and financial support for the implementation and further deployment of Circular Systemic Solutions. Annika Eskusson (DG R&I) outlined that the CCRI is supported by the EU's research and innovation funding programme and presented the CCRI-related calls. Horizon Europe has a budget of more than €250 million in the period 2020-2024, which can be used to demonstrate Circular Systemic Solutions as well as to test circular business and governance models at territorial level.
This was followed by a more specific presentation by Andrea Accorigi on the CCRI office and its activities.
Session 2: Who is who in the CCRI community
In the second session, Pilots and Fellows, as well as representatives of the CCRI Projects and Associated Partners introduced themselves to the community. This was followed by a presentation by Davide Delaiti from the European Research Executive Agency, who talked about how to foster synergies between CCRI Projects.
Session 3: The most pressing support needs of Pilots and Fellows
In this session, Tugce Tugran, from the CCRI office, shared insights on the needs assessment exercise carried out by the CCRI-CSO with Pilots. Preliminary results show that the most pressing needs concern legislation, governance, administration, support material, technology, finance and social change. For instance, the needs assessment revealed common issues, topics and interests covering aspects such as circularity of construction and demolition and the built environment, biowaste and circular bioeconomy, industrial symbiosis, and zero-waste approaches.
This was followed by a presentation by Mr Accorigi who introduced the status and needs of the Fellows, as well as the Thematic Working Groups that have emerged from assessing the applications.
Session 4: CCRI support – what is in it for you
Tugce Tugran and Pierre Menger, also of the CCRI office, kicked off this session by giving an overview of the CCRI Methodology and other support measures for the CCRI community, such as the laboratory activities and the self-assessment tool.
This was followed by a presentation by Juliette Lassman, Policy Analyst for Water Governance and Circular Economy at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), who highlighted the social, political and economic changes needed to enable a circular economy and its importance for material use. Ms Lassman also introduced two OECD tools: a checklist for action and the OECD scoreboard on the governance of circular economy.
María Blanco Herbosa from the European Investment Bank (EIB) then introduced the Circular City Centre (C3) and how it can benefit the CCRI community. She also presented upcoming C3 activities, such as the publication of a guidance document focusing on the built environment, the launch of a C3 webinar series as well as a new Circular City Advisory (CCA) programme. Philipp Horn, also of the EIB, then took to the floor to emphasise that the EIB is there to support cities and regions, encouraging cities and regions to voice their needs so that the EIB can continue to improve its support. He also shared information about other EIB activities of relevance for the CCRI.
After these presentations, attendees were split into three breakout sessions based on their interests: construction and circular buildings, circular resource management, and industrial symbiosis and bioeconomy. In these sessions, participants had the chance to present their needs and offers, discuss common challenges and solutions, and identify potential synergies. Following that, each breakout session moderator briefly presented their group’s findings.
Conclusions and moving forward
Pavel Misiga closed the workshop, thanking participants for their positive energy during the event and for their willingness to work together and collaborate. He emphasised that stakeholders should not forget about the systemic dimension of circular initiatives, but to get there they first need to address the practical measures and smaller building blocks.
He further highlighted the importance of all stakeholders being active for the success of the CCRI. These stakeholders include not only the CCRI Pilots, Fellows, Projects and Associated Partners present at the event, but also all those with an interest in the circular economy who make up the CCRI community.