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Towards a Circular Economy in the Region

Working towards a circular economy contributes to the sustainable management of natural resources and helps to shape a more resilient, prosperous and sustainable future for all. The fundamental changes required go beyond simply “correcting” the environmental implications of economic activity to encompass a deep rethinking of the way in which societies produce and consume.

With the global circularity rate at less than 9 per cent, much remains to be done. 

Accelerating this shift offers a lifeline to decarbonize our economies, and among cross-cutting benefits for the SDGs, a systemic move to a resource-efficient and circular economy could lead to 18 million global job reallocations and 1.8 million net job creations by 2040.  

Recognizing this transition as a priority for the region, member States have committed to bold action for circular and more sustainable use of natural resources, making this the focus of UNECE’s 69th Commission session.

From regulatory and market instruments, to public spending on infrastructure or information and awareness-raising initiatives, countries in the UNECE region are actively pursuing national policies to promote a shift towards a more circular economy and the sustainable use of natural resources. In sectors as diverse as plastics, food or textiles and with the strong engagement of both public and business sectors, this broad range of experiences creates fertile ground for the exchange of good practices and mutual learning.

Countries have also committed to fostering a circular economy through the Environment for Europe Ministerial Process – serviced by UNECE – which saw the Batumi Initiative on Green Economy (BIG-E) operationalize the Pan-European Strategic Framework for Greening the Economy. Commitments made under BIG-E include circular economy priorities such as the reduction of food waste (e.g. in Hungary) and the introduction of resource efficient and cleaner production in manufacturing and other economic sectors (e.g. in Ukraine).