Policy brief: a territorial approach to transitioning towards a circular economy

One of the main building blocks of Europe’s new agenda for sustainable growth, the European Green Deal, is the circular economy action plan, adopted in 2020. This action plan aims to, among other things, ensure less waste is produced, make sustainable products the norm and make circularity work for people, regions and cities in the EU.

The ESPON circular economy and territorial consequences (Circter) project has played a timely role in supporting the circular design of territories at subnational levels. The project provided a regional-level monitoring framework and looked closely at several territorial factors important in circular systems. This territorial perspective proved critical in identifying drivers and bottlenecks relevant for circular configurations. Three additional case studies, for Luxembourg, the cross-border Scandinavian area, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein, were carried out to increase the amount of evidence collected and better tailor it to specific territorial contexts.

Building on the experience gained in the Circter project, this policy brief aims to provide national, regional and urban authorities with information to support the design of place-based policies for deploying circular economy solutions at the regional level. The brief addresses and illustrates how the regulations and instruments available, such as those related to public procurement and spatial planning, can be used to facilitate the transition towards a circular economy. And provides food for thought for the 2021–27 cohesion policy programming period by highlighting policy priorities for regional development from a circular economy perspective.


ESPON Policy Brief Circular Economy.pdf

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