17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the most appropriate plan to build a better world for our people and planet by 2030. Adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, the SDGs are a call for action by all countries – poor, rich, and on average incomes – to promote prosperity by protecting the environment.
Circular Economy, an inspiring concept that is gaining extraordinary support worldwide, is about effectively scaling sustainable economic models within planetary borders. The principle of extending the life cycle of materials – to keep the value of products and materials in progress as long as possible – is essential to this vision, along with the transition to renewable energies, biodiversity compliance, social balance, and inclusiveness. Working in the circular economy means working on most (SDGs) global sustainable development goals, not only in reducing costs but as a business model. In some areas of the world, the action takes place under the framework of SDGs where in some countries, climate issues are the dominant impetus for action, and some others focus on measures that create economically stable cities, while we in the Western Balkan region are at the stage of the definition of transition towards a circular economy.
The circular economy helps achieve the Sustainable Development Goals because the countless ways people and businesses interact are fraught with opportunities. The circulating economy can offer “close-to-home” results, creating new paths for cooperation to create and preserve values. Examples such as revitalized buildings, significant work, or improved transport can become a powerful impetus for innovation. Inspiration develops, demand grows, and good ideas can be shared with each other, each in its own context. Examples of circular economies are being developed from different segments of the market that are closely related to SDGs such as agri-food, manufacturing, built environment, consumption, and other cross-sectoral plastics that need to be developed based on sustainability.
Technology is an important theme, but other challenges lie in the sphere of social innovation, design, and partnership building. The transition to the circular economy requires systemic change and cooperation. A local government can set ambition (urgency), define conditions, and develop experimentation. Scholars and knowledge institutions can develop new knowledge and tools, prove ideas and raise awareness. Entrepreneurs must have the courage and imagination to take risks, to accelerate change for the rest of the world.
Participation of citizens and residents is also essential, as well as educating policymakers, employees, and consumers of the future on the importance of producing and consuming zero-waste is the challenge for a stable future. In recent decades, we have learned which institutional interventions work and which do not. We have often learned from difficult roads and experiences. By joining forces, networks, and resources, we can develop the circular economy concept that will promote SDGs in the Western Balkan Region.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Filip Ruxho
Vice President for Innovation and External Relations
Academic Director of Business and Management Department