C5 Building a circular economy through urban metabolism

20 Jun 2018
16:00 - 17:30

C5 Building a circular economy through urban metabolism

This session will demonstrate the utility of the urban metabolism framework in city planning and management. A series of case studies will be presented to show how urban metabolism works to promote urban-rural linkages, circular economy in cities, and industrial symbiosis.

Building on the experience of the Global Initiative for Resource Efficient Cities and on the expertise of the Cities Working Group of the International Resource Panel the session explains urban metabolism beyond its academic scope and into its practical application.

Urban Metabolism is a framework of analysis that looks at the city as a system and analyzes the continuous flows of resources (material flows) coming into the city (as inputs), and going out of the city (as outputs) within the city’s complex web of networks, and allows for the studying of the different patterns of movements of matter and energy. An urban metabolism analysis helps in the identification of opportunities to build resilience and improve the use of resources in a more efficient way. This then forms as a basis for the development of policies and initiatives that would pave the way for building a circular economy at the city level.

This framework supports the implementation of the Third Transformative Commitment of the New Urban Agenda (paragraphs 63-80) which commits to “environmentally sustainable and resilient urban development” and the achievement of SDG11 “sustainable cities and communities.”


From this session, participants will gain a better understanding of:

  • How cities are using urban metabolism analysis to improve circular economy, industrial symbiosis and urban-rural linkages.
  • What the urban metabolism framework is, how it differs and relates to other concepts and what tools are available to cities
  • Why it would be helpful for a national and city governments to use this framework to build resilience, resource efficiency, and circularity in their cities.
  • How working with local stakeholders in an integrated manner allows for more context-specific and integrated policies.


Sharon Gill
Co-ordinator, UN Environnement – Global Initiative for Resource Efficient Cities


Martin Otto
Head of Cities and Lifestyles, UN Environment

Veronica Hitosis
Deputy Executive Director for Policy, Programs, and Projects, League of Cities of the Philippines

Boris Gomez Luna
Advisor to the Mayor, City of Cusco

Patrick Van Den Abeele
Project Manager- Circular Economy, City of Brussels

Zuleica Goulart
Sustainable Cities Initiative Brazil

Annerieke Douma
Director Program and Business Development, Circle Economy

Matthew Lynch
Vice President- Global Partnerships & Initiatives, WCCD

Kirstin Miller
Executive Director, EcoCity Builders