On 22 April, as global leaders gather to celebrate Earth Day, and the world starts looking to a post-pandemic recovery, governments, industry, and society cannot afford a return to ‘business as usual’. Earth Day calls on us to embrace collective forward-thinking actions to “Restore Our Earth” – one of which is to adopt the principles of circular economy, a key priority of the EU4Environment programme in the Eastern Partnership region.
Some 45% of all the emissions contributing to climate change come from the manufacturing of products. Based on three key pillars – elimination of waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems – the circular economy has the capacity to redesign how we plan, produce, and consume everything around us.
Through the European Green Deal, the EU is driving the agenda on sustainable growth, concentrating on a transition to a circular economy, which reduces the pressure on natural resources and creates sustainable growth and green jobs.
In the Eastern Partnership, EU4Environment assists the six partner countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine – in increasing the efficiency with which they use materials, water and energy, improving their productivity and, overall, their competitiveness. This is done by training national experts in resource efficient and cleaner production (RECP) methods, by improving the understanding of the benefits of the circular economy among Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), individually or in groups, and by piloting eco-industrial parks and industrial waste maps. Working with national RECP Centres in the partner countries, EU4Environment provides advisory services and RECP audits for companies, trains experts and raises awareness about RECP, as well as facilitating access to green finance.
In unpredictable times, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, the application of circular economy can become a driver of inclusive and sustainable industrial development by mitigating climate change and preventing waste. By reevaluating metrics and indicators, and training industries in decoupling economic growth from resource use, it also brings value-creation opportunities that can be integrated into technical, biological, and behavioural processes across all industries. Concretely, it can tackle waste reduction straight from the source, such as in the case of steel, aluminium, plastic, and cement production, all which account for 60% of global industrial emissions.
Working with governments and the private sector to support the adoption of RECP and circular economy practices in industry helps countries achieve concrete steps towards the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. In this way, EU4Environment serves as a window of opportunity for combating climate change and environmental destruction by introducing new ways to engage businesses into dialogue and action.
The EU4Environment programme (2019-2022) is funded by the European Union and aims to help the six partner countries preserve their natural capital and increase people’s environmental well-being, by supporting environment-related action, demonstrating and unlocking opportunities for greener growth, and setting mechanisms to better manage environmental risks and impacts.
Find out more
RECP success story: How to do more with less – Georgia taking steps towards a Green Economy
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