Circular economy focus of international forum in Antwerp


Finding ways to reuse and recycle material will help achieve climate change and sustainability targets, according to the World Resources Forum

Material benefits

Business leaders, policymakers, researchers and the non-profit sector will gather in Antwerp next week for the annual World Resources Forum. This year’s meeting will focus on the creation of a circular economy, in which materials are reused, recycled or even eliminated in order to limit their impact on the environment.

“Over 60% of greenhouse gas emissions can be directly linked to our materials footprint,” says Jan Verheyen, spokesperson for Ovam, Flanders’ public waste agency, which is co-organising the event. “Reducing our materials footprint is a very important part of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

In addition to helping achieve climate change goals, moving towards a circular economy will, according to Ovam, contribute to other sustainable development targets and deliver jobs for the local economy.

Closing loops

The Forum opens on Monday with a plenary session featuring Flanders’ new environment minister Koen Van den Heuvel and Janez Potocnik, former EU environment commissioner and co-chair of the UN International Resource Panel.

The sessions that follow cover topics such as how cities and regions can become laboratories for circular change; soil and land as a valuable resource; and ways to create a circular bioeconomy, such as by using plant-based materials.

There will also be a session on how ports can contribute to the circular economy, involving both Antwerp and Rotterdam, and a panel discussion on the role of mayors and municipalities. Cities on the agenda are Bergen, Rotterdam, Porto, Bilbao, Sao Paulo and Beirut.

Meanwhile, Ovam will host a special session on the global challenges of plastics and textile recycling, with particular reference to the recent closing of borders to these low-value waste streams.

Circular fashions

Other events planned for the Forum include a circular fashion show, which will feature designs by ecological brands such as La Fille d’O of Ghent, Ilke Cop of Brussels and Tropas of Sint-Niklaas.

And throughout the three days of the Forum, 15 students (selected from over 1,700 applicants) will brainstorm possible solutions to prevent, eradicate and recycle waste from electronic devices.

The last day is dedicated to visiting local organisations such as Blue Gate Antwerp and Circular South to see the circular economy in action.

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