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Will Circular Economy Solve the Climate Crisis?

ReGeneration 2030’s key takeaways from the Nordic Circular Summit 2023

Last week, the team of ReGeneration 2030 once again took part in the Nordic Circular Summit, one of the biggest circular economy conferences in the Nordics, which this year took place in Reykjavik, Iceland. For the third time, the representatives of ReGeneration 2030 were bringing the youth activist voice to the event.

The theme of this year's Summit was the human factors of circular economy, shifting the attention from the usual topics of innovation and business development to the societal side and just transition. Among the speakers, the Summit succeeded in gathering a wide variety of voices, from sustainable businesses, and academia to indigenous people and youth.

Bringing the youth activist voice to the table

This year ReGeneration 2030 was represented by Ellen Fokuhl (Vice Chair), Frida Gustaffson (Treasurer) and Ugnė Budriūnaitė (Acting Secretary-General), who brought in the youth perspective to 4 sessions on the main Summit day - Human Factors of Circular Economy (Ugnė Budriūnaitė), Building Blocks of Circular Societies (Frida Gustaffson), From Nature For Nature (Ellen Fokuhl) and the Summit’s Wrap-up and Way Forward (Ugnė Budriūnaitė).

During the sessions, the team stressed the urgency for immediate action, encouraging participants to step up for system change as well as inviting everyone to be activists in their everyday work and demand change from those who are in power. Additionally, the representatives highlighted the need for intergenerational dialogue, encouraging business leaders to listen to youth activists in their local areas and get inspired and encouraged by their boldness to catalyze change in their businesses and political level.

All the recordings of the Nordic Circular Summit are available online!

Challenging the concept of circular economy

On the second day of the Summit, ReGeneration 2030 hosted its very own online partner session - panel discussion Can Circular Economy Solve the Climate Crisis? (moderated by Ugnė Budriūnaitė). The session invited the panellists - Kim Hjerrild (Circular Innovation Lab ApS), Keira Dignan (ReGeneration 2030) and Zabihullah Roshan (ReGeneration 2030 & LCC International University) to address the criticism of the concept of circular economy and discuss the weaknesses for the concept to improve and become more resilient. The discussion touched upon a variety of issues, including whether circular economy is possible without system change and whether it can really ensure a just green transition, as well as growing greenwashing trends within the circular economy domain and potential ways to prevent this practice.

All the recordings of the Nordic Circular Summit are available online!

Building campaigns that win

For the first time this year, ReGeneration 2030 also got a chance to engage the local youth and organised a side event for the Summit. Together with the Icelandic Youth Environmentalist Association, ReGeneration 2030 invited the Icelandic Youth to learn about campaigning in the workshop How To Build Campaigns that Win? The workshop focused on power-mapping and building the public narrative as core elements of successful campaigns. The workshop also introduced the attendees to the basics of circular economy, showing how Iceland can become a circular island. It was the first try to invite the local youth to take part in the Summit event created exclusively for youth by youth and nevertheless, the outcome laid a solid ground for possible future activities for local youth to engage in.

Main insights and look into the future

This year's Summit quite successfully compensated for missing social factors in the two previous Summits that ReGeneration 2030 took part in. It was incredibly encouraging to finally see the first indigenous voice being represented in the sessions of the Summit as well as seeing a more diverse group of participants, expanding to the Baltics, Europe, Australia and other countries. The ReGeneration 2030 can only congratulate this decision and encourage the organisers to continue this path by further diversifying perspectives represented at the event and amplifying the voices of those who are systematically underrepresented, especially by giving more space to the MAPA representatives.

However, we missed more attention being paid to the policy-level changes and system change that we believe are needed in order to ensure a just green transition to a circular economy and sustainable future for all until the year 2030. We believe that without the system change, we can’t ensure a strong circular economy, just green transformation and a sustainable future for all until the year 2030. We all deserve to live in a system that respects and cares about its society and, most importantly, functions within planetary boundaries.

Apart from this, it’s important to understand that the Summit doesn’t mark an end, it should be seen as an inspiration and encouragement to continue working, fighting and advocating for a just green transition. We sincerely hope to see action from the participants of the Summit this year leading up to the Nordic Circular Summit 2024.

ReGeneration 2030 is a democratic and youth-led organisation, mobilising youth climate movements from the Nordic and Baltic Sea region. Want to join us? Fill out a volunteer application form here.

Author: Ugnė Budriūnaitė

Editors: Advocacy working group

Photo credit: Ernir Eyjólfsson/Nordic Circular Hotspot


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