Chatham House and UNIDO release worldwide circular economy assessment

24 May 2024 10:14

London/Vienna - Governments and businesses around the world are embracing circularity. Europe is at the forefront, according to a new report by British think thank Chatham House and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, or UNIDO. But even Europeans have plenty of work ahead of them.

Chatham House and the Vienna, Austria-based United Nations Industrial Development Organization UNIDO have released an analysis of circular economic policies worldwide. Their report examined 75 national government plans and 2882 policy actions to cut the extraction of virgin materials to curb carbon emissions that cause climate change and recycle and reuse more products in 17 sectors according to 20 policy themes.

“With a shared aspiration to foster sustainable practices, nations across the globe have embarked on a journey to redefine economic paradigms and embrace circularity,” London-based Chatham House wrote in a May 13 press release. “Yet, despite their rapid proliferation, questions persist regarding the content, design, governance structures, and efficacy of these initiatives in delivering a just and inclusive circular transition.”

The report included an interactive map that explains the country’s progress in advancing circular economic principles. Europe is still making more progress than most of the rest of the world. In 2018, 70 percent of circular economic strategies originated in European countries. In 2024, that figure remained the same.

Europeans have plenty of work ahead of them, however.

The map noted, for example, that less than 7 percent of the raw materials consumed in Switzerland derive from recycling. Analysts therefore conclude that the Central European country suffers a “circularity gap” of around 93 percent. The report and interactive map, which cites the Circle Economy Foundation, do not include these rates for all countries. But, for context, the Austrian economy has a circularity rate of 9.7 percent, which means its gap is almost 90 percent, while the Netherlands is a leader with a circularity rate of 24.5 percent, or a gap of less more than 75 percent.

The report explained how different countries are establishing government agencies, like India’s National Circular Economy Authority, to boost circularity. It also shows whether governments and other institutions are investing in circularity, creating brokering systems that foster circularity, and other measures. ce/jd