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Knowledge category: Tools and methods

Circular Economy Guidebook for Cities

Updated on 09.12.2022

The CSCP is a ‘think and do tank’ that works with businesses, policy makers, partner organisations and civil society towards a sustainable planet. The objective of its Circular Economy Guidebook for Cities is to give practical advice to actors involved in the development of a circular city as well as a contribution to the overall discourse.

Author: Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP)
Year of update: 2019

More information

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Energy and Environment jointly founded the CSCP in 2005. As a non-profit organisation, the CSCP focuses on the promotion of sustainable patterns of consumption and production.


It is based on the work of international research projects as well as regional groundwork on circular cities. Learning from the activities of what cities across the globe are doing, the authors have come up with an eight-step process which every city could undertake to become circular.

Relevance for Circular Systemic Solutions

The guidebook provides examples across value chains and sectors, including the built environment, energy systems, urban mobility, urban bioeconomy, and local production systems. Building upon these examples, it suggests practical guidelines to move towards a circular economy in cities.


The guidelines include recommendations for multiple sectors and value chains, elaborating on various stakeholders and their roles. The guidebook provides useful information and guidelines for cities that are at the beginning of their circular journey and are looking for methodologies and examples of circular implementation in cities.

How to use this tool or method

This publication provides a step-by-step process to becoming circular, which cities can follow as a guide. In the guidebook, cities have been classified into four broad categories of whether a city is a legacy city or a pioneering city in a developed or an emerging economy: a) Developed economy legacy city, b) Emerging economy legacy city, c) Developed economy pioneering city, and d) Emerging economy pioneering city. Based on the classification a number of examples from cities across the continents have been documented.

Type of tool or method

Strategy design and decision making

Impacts

Environmental pollution and land use

Increased recycling rates

Dematerialisation

Equality of opportunities/Just transition toward a sustainable and inclusive circular economy

Education, knowledge, training and reskilling

Stakeholder and citizens mobilisation, engagement and participation

Material savings

Innovation

Social aspects

Training/reskilling/capacity building, including vocational education and training, continuous training

e.g. for public administrations, SMEs, start-up

Awareness raising and education

all actors

Stakeholder mobilisation

including citizens

Stakeholder participation

including citizens

Behavioural changes

Territories involved

Cities

large 500 000-200 000, medium 200 000-50 000, and small cities 50 000-5 000