Ladeja Godina: “Chile, by showcasing the circular economy roadmapping process, will definitely speed up the process in other countries”
Ladeja Godina Kosir, a Slovenian expert on circular economy, was one of Eurochile’s main advisers in the construction of the recently developed Circular Economy Roadmap. In this interview, she talks about the complexities that she has faced with the implementation of this type of instrument in her country, about her experience of the work carried out in Chile and the challenges that this entails. “Implementing the changes is an ongoing process and should be considered as “work in progress”.” Today, she says, when we are facing COVID-19 crisis, a circular economy roadmap can serve as one of guidelines towards more resilience and thriving future.
During 2020, Ladeja Godina was one of the main European advisers in the preparation of the Circular Economy Roadmap in Chile. She was part of the Eurochile Business Foundation team that led, jointly with the Ministry of the Environment, the construction and drafting of the of this document, which last February ended its public consultation process and today is in the stage of incorporating observations and final drafting.
Founder and executive director of Circular Change, and at the same time president since 2018 of the coordination group of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform (ECESP), Ladeja Godina has also participated in the development of circular economy roadmaps for three European countries. In this interview she talks about how the process of adopting this trend has progressed in her country and about the experience of the work in Chile.
How has your country’s experience been in the preparation and development of the roadmap towards the circular economy?
I believe Slovenia started very good with the process of transition few years ago; crucial points were the government’s documents presented in 2017 – Vision 2050 and Strategy 2030, which restated the importance of embedding circular economy and sustainability into the policy agenda. Between 2016 and 2017 our platform Circular Change, lead the process of preparation of the Slovenian National Circular Economy Roadmap. It was super challenging, since Slovenian government did not invest money into profound research and data analysis done by consultant companies, what is usually the case before the roadmapping process starts. With other partners in a consortium we started the process that was bottom-up driven. More than 15 workshops and engagement of almost 3.000 stakeholders (total population of Slovenia is 2 million) provided inputs needed for the document that has been primarily introduced at the 3rd Circular Change Conference in Maribor, Slovenia. The “Circular Triangle” – bridging Circular Economy, Circular Change and Circular Culture is in the core of the document. While promoting circular culture, we try to bridge the creative industries and systemic circular change, in order to bring creative people into the process of decision-making, innovating and designing. We need creatives’, designers’, communicators’ skills in order to help us raise our business solutions on a circular level.
What have been the main difficulties?
As already mentioned, due to the lack of profound research and data analysis, we had to rely on the contribution of different stakeholders. But it turned out as something very valuable, since the understanding of the potential circular economy transition is bringing, has been widely spread. After the introduction of the Roadmap, we expected the government to prepare concrete Action plan, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. As we can see, some other European countries have progressed more than Slovenia in the last 2 years (Slovakia, Czech Republic, France, Poland); with more systemic approach, with public-private partnerships, effective support to projects and more “green&circular oriented” allocation of financial resources.
What are the productive sectors that have the least difficulties in implementing the changes?
Sectors, that are most often recognized as those with high potential for circular transition – at least in Europe – are food, construction, mobility, manufacturing, plastic, consumer goods, biomass … More long-term transition refers for example to mining industry and energy sector. But we shall take in account that all sectors are interdependent and interconnected, so we can not think about them separately or in silosis. It is of crucial importance to navigate the circular transition as a complex system, constantly monitoring the impact one sector has on the other, exploring synergies and discovering new possibilities for collaboration as well as for the industrial symbiosis. There are a lot of hidden potentials within existing value chains – that’s why we – within the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform – strongly promote the importance of exchange of knowledge and lessons learned. Implementing the changes is an ongoing process and should be considered as “work in progress”.
Why is it important for countries and companies to have a roadmap?
Circular economy roadmaps help nations to start their transformative process and navigate through the transition. The process of creation is probably equally important than the document as such. It enables different stakeholders to come together, co-create joined vision of circular future, exchange their experiences and practices, agree on priority areas, set the monitoring system … All that is needed to achieve a broad consensus on the implementation of circular economy principles. Particularly now, when we are facing COVID-19 crisis, a circular economy roadmap can serve as one of guidelines towards more resilience and thriving future. Taking into account economic, social and environmental aspect, showing the way where and how to create new jobs, how to recover economy and society, how to manage resources in a better, more sustainable way and how to address biodiversity. Aligned with SDG 12 – responsible production and consumption, circular economy roadmaps are opening space for an economy & society where the quality of life is assured for everyone and growth is not based simply on more production.
What is the deadline we have? 2030? 2040?
The deadline was “yesterday”. We are already consuming more resources than planet Earth can provide – we have put next generations in debt. This year the “Overshoot Day” – the moment each year when we humans have used up more natural resources that the Earth can renew in 12 months – came on August 22nd. It would take 1.6 Earths this year to meet the needs of the world’s population in a sustainable way (calculations were made by American NGO Global Footprint Network). For now, we only have one planet. So, we better take care of this one and stop destroying everything, what actually enables us, humans, to live on this beautiful planet. The Earth might survive. But the future of our civilization is very unsecure.
Our country is finishing the process of preparing its roadmap. In your experience, what are the main challenges it faces?
For me, personally, the collaboration with Eurochile team in the roadmapping process is a true privilege. Despite the fact, that due to pandemic, I was not in a position to visit Chile, we are collaborating remotely and have established great relationship. I would not say that we have any particular challenges, since the whole process of creation is a challenge – in Chile or elsewhere. This is an adventurous journey and the team started it very well prepared. With very clear structure, vision, goals, milestones, timeline and super professional & passionate team. The level of engagement of different stakeholders and capability of integration of different interests in the process is amazing. What I admire a lot is the empathy of members of the team, their sensibility for content and facts that are unique in Chile, like strong emphasize on culture, education, heritage, for example, and collaboration foreseen for the implementation of circular economy between cities and rural areas. This is really great!
In practical terms, what does the adoption of this roadmap imply for the different productive sectors? How quickly should they adopt the changes?
Once the roadmap is introduced, the implementation process starts. Of course, roadmap is not a magic tool – it is a tool-kit. In an ideal scenario, the action plan would follow, giving more precise guidelines to each selected sector. It is of crucial importance that the adoption of the roadmap is as wild as possible – as already mentioned, the implementation of circular economy is calling for a systemic approach and every single part counts. The whole ecosystem shall be designed in a way to support this transition. In recently published book, Prof. dr. Jacqueline Cramer (Amsterdam Economic Board), is very clearly showing the power of network governance for the implementation of circular economy on national level: “Network governance is about building a coalition of partners: people willing to contribute to transformational change and who need each other to realise this.” The adoption of changes starts with the first step – decision, that you are willing to start this journey. And this first step has to be taken by leaders on different levels, in different sectors.
What is the role that Chile could have in Latin America in this regard?
In Latin America we can already face a kind of “movement” inspired very much also by the circular economy roadmaping process in Chile. It is important having a lighthouse – someone- the others can follow. According to my experiences and engagement in Latin America, I can already notice the impact – Chile is invited to present the approach, to share experiences, to connect with other circular frontrunners. Brazil is also very active and I, as Slovenian, feel flattered being a part of this “circular community”, collaborating with Exchange4Change in Brazil and Eurochile in Chile. Let me mention our Ambassador, Gorazd Renčelj, who is great supporter of circular transition and is also contributing to the recognition of different initiatives and activities – at recent virtual EU LAC Conference circular economy has been in the focus.
With the current conditions of the globalized economy, how much progress can be made when the effort is not done jointly? (As is the case of Latin America)
Climate and health crisis are two parts of the same coin and we have learned, that we can address both only by joining forces on global level. The circular economy as a tool, to make transition towards more resilient economy a reality, shall be implemented in every country, on every continent. It does not mean that the practice implemented in Europe has to be “copy-pasted” in other countries. On the contrary, based on the values and principles of circular economy, each country shall find its own way to embrace challenges and find circular solutions. I have no doubt, that there are a lot of circular frontrunners in Latin America, but have not been recognized, enabled, empowered … Chile, by showcasing the circular economy roadmapping process, will definitely speed up the process in other countries. By sharing the expertise in networking, stakeholder engagement and previously mentioned network governance, circular movement shall become as influential and attractive, as the rhythms of Latin America music.