The Circular Cities and Regions Initiative: One year on
Published on 09.05.2023
The Circular Cities and Regions Initiative (CCRI) recently celebrated its first anniversary. Since its launch in early 2022, we have seen the Initiative grow significantly. In this article, we reflect on its achievements and progress so far.
Supporting Pilots and Fellows
Following a call for expression of interest that received over 100 applications from cities, regions and territorial clusters, the Initiative has welcomed on board 12 Pilots and 25 Fellows, covering 18 European countries. The number of applications showed the high level of interest among cities, regions and clusters, which are at the heart of driving the circular economy transition.
Pilots and Fellows have been subjected to needs assessments, which informed the design and shape of the individual and group support provided by the CCRI Coordination and Support Office. Pilots have already begun receiving tailored support from experts in the CCRI office, starting with the co-creation of individualised roadmaps for the implementation of their Circular Systemic Solutions.
Four Thematic Working Groups have also been established to provide group support to Pilots and Fellows in specific thematic areas: construction and circular buildings; circular resource management; industrial symbiosis and circular economy in industries; circular bioeconomy.
Together with other relevant organisations, bodies and initiatives in the circular economy field (Associated Partners) and Horizon projects (CCRI Projects), cities, regions and territorial clusters are exchanging knowledge, experiences, best practices and solutions through these groups.
With the CCRI’s support, many cities and regions are beginning to make tangible circular economy progress in developing and implementing concrete circular solutions. Such progress should continue as the Initiative progresses through its second year, thanks to the tailored assistance provided by the CCRI office’s experts and partners.
Working with CCRI stakeholders
The Pilots and Fellows, alongside 12 Associated Partners and 16 CCRI Projects, make up the CCRI stakeholders.
These Associated Partners and CCRI Projects form part of the CCRI’s unique, multi-stakeholder collaboration and support scheme, in which the Associated Partners provide additional guidance, capacity building, and networking and dissemination opportunities, and the CCRI Projects help demonstrate circular solutions and test circular business and governance models.
Among the CCRI’s Associated Partners are the European Investment Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, with which the Initiative has formed strategic partnerships to provide complementary support on financing and governance-related aspects respectively.
The Initiative has established an Advisory Board which has met twice to provide strategic advice for the implementation and further development of the Initiative. Its Steering Committee, made up of six European Commission’s departments, also looks at how the Initiative is embedded in European Commission policy and associated programmes and initiatives, supporting the policy objectives of the European Green Deal.
Growing an active community of practitioners
Circular economy stakeholders have also come together at a number of CCRI events. On 19 October 2022, the first Coordination and Support Workshop brought together around 120 stakeholders in Brussels and online to discuss future collaboration and synergies. Attendees included the CCRI stakeholders, together with representatives of the Commission and the CCRI office.
The Initiative has also organised three webinars. The first focused on the CCRI Methodology, which has been created by the CCRI office to provide actionable guidance to help accelerate the transition towards the circular economy at local and regional level. The second focused on new funding for the circular economy under Horizon Europe calls, and the third on monitoring the transition to a circular economy.
These events have helped to share information and knowledge and build an active and growing community of leading circular economy practitioners in Europe, who are cooperating with and learning from each other and building strong partnerships.
CCRI representatives have also participated in several external events, including at EU Green Week and EU Regions Week, helping to provide networking opportunities and create synergies with other Initiatives.
The growth of the community has also been demonstrated by the CCRI LinkedIn page, which recently passed 1,300 followers.
Providing a trusted hub of circular economy knowledge
The Initiative has created a dedicated website, serving as a trusted, accessible and up-to-date online hub of knowledge, good practices and information about the European circular economy landscape.
In this time, the website’s support materials section has grown to contain over 200 useful resources identified and documented by the CCRI, including papers and reports, tools and methods, funding and financing opportunities, and more.
These support materials can be valuable tools to help stakeholders contribute to environmental protection, become more sustainable, minimise resource waste, boost economic growth and create jobs.
Much more to come
As well as continuing with these activities, the CCRI is developing a Self-Assessment Tool for cities and regions, which aims to provide a monitoring system for the implementation of circular solutions and enable the transfer of relevant data and knowledge.
The CCRI will intensify its tailored support to Pilot cities and regions over the coming year. A purpose-built intranet is also being developed, which will provide a forum for community building and knowledge sharing between CCRI stakeholders, and help to match Pilots’ and Fellows’ needs and offers.
Also on the horizon is the CCRI’s first General Conference, which is due to take place in autumn 2023, alongside the second Coordination and Support Workshop. Further details will follow in the CCRI Newsletter and website and on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in due course.
Through these activities, the CCRI will continue to lead the transition towards a circular economy in Europe, bring together cities and regions, and support the implementation of circular solutions.
e.g. chemicals, textile, ceramics, glass, cement, steel, bio-based industries
e.g. B2B services
e.g. households, aware consumers, representatives of influential groups, trainers and educators
e.g. NGOs, citizens associations