SP4 Circular cities: Designing urban systems that fit planetary boundaries

20 Jun 2018
14:00 – 15:30

SP4 Circular cities: Designing urban systems that fit planetary boundaries

Our global linear economy is wasteful by design. It relies on extracting, transforming, consuming and discarding massive amounts of resources such as biomass, fossil fuels, sand, gravel or metals. 92.8 billion tons of material inputs were used to fuel our economy in 2015, equating to 12,54 tons of raw materials per person per year or about 35 kg per day – a figure which doesn’t even include water consumption.

Only 9% of material inputs are cycled back to the economy (Circle Economy, 2018). Most of the remaining materials are dispersed into the environment or discarded as waste that contributes to degrading our ecosystems and endangering the health of communities worldwide.
Upstream, the overconsumption of resources is linked to most of the planetary boundaries. The majority (67%) of global greenhouse gas emissions are for instance related to material management.

This century calls for a new consumption and production model, one that enables humanity to flourish within the means of the planet. Such a model can’t afford to waste.

Waste is a modern and very human invention. Natural systems produce no waste: resources are used within their regenerative capacity and infinitely cycled back into the system. The circular economy aims at mimicking natural cycles by designing consumption and production models as such that all materials can be cycled back in the economy so that resources are only extracted within their regenerative capacity.

Cities are instrumental forces of a genuine circular economy. Not only do they consume 75% of natural resources and produce 50% of global waste (UNEP, 2016), their intermediate scale also means they can pool and interconnect the actions of a wide variety of actors.


Roman Mendle
Program Manager, Smart Cities, ICLEI World Secretariat

Keynote “The weight of cities: resources requirements of future urbanization”

Mark Swilling
Professor, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Academic Director, Sustainability Institute
Co-Director, Centre for Complex Systems in Transition (CST)
Member, International Resource Panel

Presentations: Strategies and levers towards circular cities

Soham Wardini
First Deputy Mayor, City of Dakar, Senegal

Huey-Ching Yeh
Deputy Mayor, New Taipei City Government, Chinese Taipei

Panel discussion with experts

Annerieke Douma
Director, Program and Business Development, Circle Economy

Aziza Akhmouch
Head of the Cities, Urban Policies, and Sustainable Development Division, OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities

Presentations: Putting people first in circular cities

Zoran Janković
Mayor, City of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Daniel Termont
Mayor, City of Ghent, Belgium

Pitch from RecyApp

Stiven Orlando Rojas Pulido
Manager, RecyApp, Colombia