Reflections on Governance for a Circular Economy

This report, published by the Climate Governance Commission and Global Challenges Foundation, analyses the possibilities to move from linear production processes to circular production processes, and governance mechanisms that could help facilitate this.

A circular economy looks beyond the current take-make-waste extractive industrial model, to one which gradually decouples economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designs waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital. It is based on three main principles: i) Design out waste and pollution, ii) Keep products and materials in use, and iii) Regenerate natural systems.

The report examines a number of barriers preventing movement from linear to circular production processes, including the low costs of extracting and using natural resources based on social perceptions and economic assumptions on such use, current supply chains based on linear models, contamination of natural resources by toxins in production processes, other technical problems in recycling, economic assumptions which assign higher values to growth than well-being, and consumer patterns.

It then looks at policy initiatives – at global, regional, national and city levels – to correct for market failures and provide the necessary incentives to move the economy in the right direction.

Amongst other things, the report recommends establishment of Global Alliance on Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency.

Anders Wijkman
Books & Reports