Skip to main content

UNECE study explores role of institutional linkages and collaboration in the circular economy transition

UNECE study explores role of institutional linkages and collaboration in the circular economy transition

Institutional arrangements for circular economy

Decades of unsustainable consumption and production patterns have resulted in the exhaustion of finite resources and environmental degradation. As governments reassess scenarios, the circular economy model - where resources are reused, recycled, and repurposed to reduce waste - has become a pillar for government strategies that seek to reverse these trends.

However, transitioning to a circular economy is not straightforward. It requires a significant degree of coordination between government actors, private sector, and other stakeholders as well as setting up the right incentives for changing behaviour. The UN supports this transition, including by helping to bridge existing gaps between advanced industrialized countries, developing countries, and countries with economies in transition. 

In the context of the upcoming Circular STEP regional policy dialogue (18-19 October, Belgrade, Serbia), envisaged to bring together circular economy focal points from UNECE’s programme countries in Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Western Balkans, and Eastern Europe, UNECE has released a study that identifies best practices to design an institutional architecture to advance circular models and provide stakeholders with a common language for mutual understanding, which can serve as a compass for governments.

The study outlines roles for different actors and describes options for strengthening institutional linkages and collaboration toward a circular economy through various policy interventions and arrangements at the national, regional and municipal levels. It also emphasizes the importance of setting specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART) goals. This comprehensive blueprint has the potential to guide countries, irrespective of their current stage in the circular economy transition, towards a more sustainable future. The study's primary message is straightforward: a genuinely circular economy requires regular consultation to ensure the right policy mix of regulations and incentives is in place.  

This study is part of the series of publications under the Circular STEP umbrella, aimed at providing Governments with successful case studies and good practices from which to learn in order to advance circular transformations in alignment with Goal 12 of the Sustainable Development Goals. The work presents an in-depth discussion of needed institutional change that can contribute to smoother implementation of circular transitions, as discussed in various sector-specific policy briefs featured in the recent series of Circular STEP publications.  

The Circular STEP stakeholder engagement platform is helping to foster peer learning, experience sharing, and highlights the essential role of governments in leading by example. The recent Circular STEP publication on “Mobilizing Financing for the Circular Economy” proposes potential institutional reforms for policymakers in the field of financing to foster the circular economy transition.