A circular economy in urban development

agenda October 9, 2019

Globally rapid developing metropolitan areas are facing various challenges that need to be addressed, such as their environmental impact, access to utilities, distribution of resources, housing, food, health and well-being.  In order to prepare NGOs for the pressing challenges ahead, The Spindle organises a series of three Future Sessions on urban development. As second in line, this interactive meeting in the Humanity Hub was about the circular economy. On behalf of Metabolic, Tamara Streefland facilitated the session in which the participants brainstormed about the opportunities and challenges of implementing circular strategies in development contexts. In this article, you’ll find the main learnings and elaborate notes of Future Session #7 from September 24th. 

The challenge of a circular economy
The circular economy is a desired, fundamentally sustainable state of the economy in which resource use is in balance with the earth’s available resources. The transformation towards this type of economy takes tremendous efforts from all stakeholders involved. Metabolic investigates how to create an enabling context in which circular strategies can be implemented. After vibrant group discussions, challenges and opportunities were proposed by the participants. It became clear that urban contexts might in itself be challenging to work in. Integration of stakeholders is often complicated and many administrative boundaries must be overcome. On the other hand, many contexts enjoy political support for circular strategies, have good data collection and embody private stakeholders who are triggered by the financial gains of smart designs.

Circular in a development context
From a wealthy urban context, our attention shifts towards a major field of impact: cities in development contexts. In the rapidly expanding urban contexts in low-income countries, the challenges are even bigger than in modern cities and thus co-creation of knowledge on this subject is required. Brainstorming about this topic, the participants identified the following insights: often trust in governments is lacking which impedes the design of circular strategies. As a solution, a decentralised approach could be introduced to address (infrastructural) issues (plot-level) and to build on potential experiences with (circular) concepts and strategies in slum areas. Technological lock-ins, which often occur in western societies, can be avoided through smart circular strategies.

Are you interested in this topic and want to know all the ins and outs? See the extended notes of the session here.

Coming to our next future session on Oktober 29th?
We invite Arjan van Timmeren and Peter Gijs van Enk to talk about urban resilience. Register here!

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