Author: Energy Review Special
Energy Review, Vol 5. Issue 02. 2023
As the world continues to grapple with the effects of climate change and the need for sustainable development, the concept of a circular economy has gained traction as a means of achieving a low-carbon, resource-efficient, and socially inclusive future.
At its core, a circular economy seeks to keep materials and resources in use for as long as possible, reducing waste and pollution and promoting the regeneration of natural systems.
This article proposes the Regional Circulating and Ecological Sphere (R-CES) as a framework for accelerating the transition to a circular economy in developing economies, with a particular focus on linking urban and rural climate and air pollution policies.
Despite efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and air pollution in urban and industrial areas, developing countries continue to struggle with the challenge of transitioning to a low-carbon, sustainable economy.
One of the reasons for this is the significant contribution of rural areas to emissions and pollution, which often goes unnoticed in climate and environmental policies. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the interconnectedness of urban and rural areas and the need for integrated solutions to environmental and social challenges. In light of these challenges, a framework that can bridge the gap between urban and rural areas and align climate and other sustainability objectives is essential.
The Regional Circulating and Ecological Sphere (R-CES) Framework
The R-CES framework proposes a regional approach to the circular economy that seeks to link urban and rural areas, promote the regeneration of natural systems, and reduce GHG emissions and air pollution. The framework is based on the concept of ecological spheres, which are interconnected systems of natural and human processes that shape the environment and society. In the context of R-CES, ecological spheres are used to identify opportunities for circular economy practices and to link policies across different sectors and regions.
The R-CES framework comprises three interrelated components: the circular economy, the ecological sphere, and the regional approach. The circular economy component focuses on reducing waste and pollution and promoting the efficient use of resources through practices such as recycling, reuse, and sharing.
The ecological sphere component recognizes the interdependence of natural and human systems and seeks to promote the regeneration of natural resources through practices such as ecosystem restoration, agroforestry, and sustainable agriculture. The regional approach component emphasizes the importance of linking policies and practices across different sectors and regions to promote synergies and minimize trade-offs between sustainability objectives.
Governance Architecture for Operationalizing R-CES
To operationalize the R-CES framework, a governance architecture is required that can facilitate collaboration and coordination across different sectors and regions.
The governance architecture should be based on the principles of transparency, accountability, and participation and should involve all relevant stakeholders, including government, civil society, private sector, and local communities.
One potential model for governance architecture is a multi-level governance approach that involves different levels of government and other stakeholders in decision-making processes. At the national level, a circular economy policy framework can be developed that sets targets and indicators for resource efficiency, waste reduction, and GHG emissions reduction.
At the regional level, regional circular economy networks can be established that bring together local governments, businesses, and civil society to identify opportunities for circular economy practices and to develop regional circular economy strategies. At the local level, circular economy initiatives can be developed that involve local communities in waste reduction, recycling, and sharing practices.
The R-CES framework offers a promising approach to accelerating the transition to a circular economy in developing economies by linking urban and rural climate and air pollution policies. The framework recognizes the interdependence of natural and human systems and promotes the regeneration of natural resources while reducing GHG emissions and air pollution. To operationalize the framework, a governance architecture is required that can facilitate collaboration and coordination across different sectors and regions.
Prof. TAKEUCHI is a leading Environmental Scientist and a Professor at the Institute for Future Initiatives at the University of Tokyo, Japan. The views expressed in this article are of Energy Review, and not of any Institution or any Government) ■□■