While the Nordic countries have made significant strides in various sustainability initiatives, there remains a pressing concern in the realm of material consumption and circular economy practices. The Circularity Gap Reports shed light on the current situation, indicating that the circularity rate in the Scandinavian economy is merely 3.3%. This figure is mirrored in Denmark at 4%, Sweden at 3.4%, and Norway at 2.4%. Unfortunately, these numbers fall considerably short of the global average, which stands at 7.2% as of 2023, as per the findings in the Circularity Gap Report.
In light of this concerning state, the Association of Nordic Engineers (ANE) Circular Economy Working Group recently embarked on an enlightening journey to Brussels. This working group is composed of experts from SI, NITO, IDA, and TEK and serves as a platform for knowledge sharing and strategic coordination on matters concerning circular economy. Our visit was centred around exploring key themes and crucial imperatives related to the circular economy in the European Union. During our visit we met with Aurel Ciobanu-Dordea, Director for Circular Economy at the European Commission; Sophie Grenade, Senior Policy Advisor at IndustriALL; and Birthe Ivars, Environment Counsellor at the Norwegian Delegation for the EU; where we delved deep into several themes and challenges that are central to the transition to a circular economy:
The European Year of Skills brought to light a critical issue—there is a shortage of skilled professionals. This shortage threatens to become a bottleneck for the green transition and the implementation of better circular economy practices. At ANE we have a strong focus on greater competence building for STEM professionals and recognise that improvements here will bridge the gap between intentions and outcomes.
Circular Economy and Social Dimensions:
The circular economy is not just an environmental endeavour; it encompasses the social dimension too. It is imperative to ensure that everyone is onboard with the green transition. A just transition, involving support for countries and addressing employment needs, is essential.
Balance in Regulation:
Striking a balance between industry, consumers, and public policy is a critical aspect of regulating the circular economy. This equilibrium is necessary to achieve sustainability while addressing the interests and concerns of all stakeholders.
Crafting the Future of Circular Economy
As the ANE Circular Economy Working Group, we are committed to pushing forward the circular economy agenda in the European Union. Our trip to Brussels has solidified the importance of a circular future in resolving existing and future issues surrounding our green transition, need for skills, and dependence on external players. Moving forward, we aim to position ourselves to play an active role in advancing the circular economy by providing studies, position papers, and engaging in public consultations.