Circular economy as an opportunity for Slovenia - a green reference country in digital Europe.
The 21st Century is leading us from instability to sustainability and responsibility, while ‘green’ brings about high quality of life. Circular economy is more than just industry without waste. It is a sustainable economic model, from the environmental, economic and social point of view. We must eliminate the negative appeal of introducing necessary changes. The exchange of best practices in the field of circular economy in the EU has shown the potential in the fields of innovation, investments and a better quality of life. After all, the world’s largest taxi company does not own cars, the largest housing provider does not own real estate, the world's largest retailer operates without stores.
The business breakfast was opened by Janez Potočnik, PhD, Co-chair of the IPCC and former European Commissioner for the Environment, who presented the first package of measures for the transition to a more circular economy in 2014, at the EU level. "We've increasingly been talking about green growth, low-carbon or no-carbon economy, energy and resource efficiency, the separation of economic growth and resource use growth and the environmental impacts, bio-economy, eco-economy, blue-economy. The main reason behind the current changes is globalization. It happened in an unpredictable way, we did not understand that new markets also mean a new competition. If we want to be competitive, the future models will have to be based on quality, not on quantity." said Potočnik. He highlighted the large ecological footprint as the main problem in all European countries. "Developing countries start their economic growth processes in ways that are detrimental to the environment. At a certain stage, this negative impact is reduced, however, no country has yet achieved a level of sustainability. A modification of the existing economic model is essential. Concepts such as circular economy have been appearing, as the economic systems have to change to be in alignment with the environmental ecosystems. The 21st Century is leading us from instability to sustainability and responsibility. Systems must be sustainable from an environmental, economic and social point of view. Sustainability is the opportunity for Europe's competitiveness in the economic sense." Potočnik concluded with a thought by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa: »Everything must change so that everything can stay the same. The world is changing before our eyes, we need to use the right lens and look at the long-term."
"Some countries within the EU, such as the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, are increasingly and with large steps guiding their economies in the direction of circular business principles. More and more multinationals have also been recognizing that without a more rational use of resources in the long term, it will be impossible to achieve economic growth and development. Slovenia neither has large multinationals with a significant impact on the global market, nor a strong geopolitical position. But we do have the knowledge, creative people, potential for innovation and unspoiled nature. Our small size allows us to efficiently connect and transparently manage our resources. A pro-active and a systematic, strategic approach to promoting the principles of circular economy into Slovenian companies, public administration, local environments and changing the behavioral patterns of consumers, can place us among the countries with a breakthrough role in changing the existing business models to those that are more sustainable and long-term and thus also internationally competitive, " said Ladeja Godina Košir,MSc, Program Director/host of the conference, an initiator of the Circular Change platform and Co-founder of Giacomelli Media.
Guido Braam, Project Manager, Netherlands Circular Hotspot, presented the Dutch model of a reference country for circular energy: "Entrepreneurs are the drivers of change. In a linear economy, everything operates on the basis of create - discard. Circular energy is therefore not easy to achieve, as it is a systemic change. It is about selling a service - we aren't selling lamps, we're selling the light. The Netherlands wants to be a 'hotspot' for the circular economy.”
Casper Jorna, Head of the CE100 program at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a global foundation, which promotes the transition to a circular economy. The Circular Economy 100 program aims to connect companies, regions, universities and innovative entrepreneurs who have decided to act in accordance with the principles of circular economy and integrate them in the direction of implementing these principles: "There are two ways of transitioning to a circular economy - by selling physical products into services or by organizing the companies in a more circular manner. A lot of energy goes into product manufacturing - why discard them if they can be reused and generate new profits." Jorna emphasized reports by McKinsey & Company:" If circularity is applied to three sectors, Europe will become the most competitive continent in the world, one of its reports showed."
Maja Makovec Brenčič, PhD, Minister of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Slovenia, addressed several key highlights in her speech: "It is important to raise awareness of the problem. The global, digitized youth sees a completely different planet than the older generation. They see a planet of boundaries. We need to raise awareness of the problem among them. It is a global mindset, not just a few projects; we need to send the right message to young people. The crucial question is whether or not we believe in a sustainable prosperity and in humanity? "
Tjaša Ficko, Deputy Mayor of Ljubljana, highlighted some of the reasons for the selection of Ljubljana as the Green Capital of Europe: "We have achieved the biggest change within the shortest possible time. We are able to maintain good things, such as the green areas. However, we also know how to create that which we do not have - new ecological projects. Changes in the city are changing people's habits, which is a challenge. People need to feel like they are a part of these changes, so we associated green with a high quality of life."
"All of these changes require funding. Great words are superfluous; knowledge and confidence are the key. A good bank must learn from the society and the world, it must understand what is going in society, it must be a collector of information. In addition to profitability, any calculation of success must also take into account sustainability, which is positive for customers, staff, and shareholders. The banking system can provide platforms for the exchange of ideas, so in the banking sector, our first question is whether the business model is sufficiently circular to be successful," said Giancarlo Miranda, Chairman of the Board, Banka Koper- Intesa Sanpaolo.
Miha Dumitrov, Business Manager, Cisco Systems concluded: »Cisco has been living the story of circular energy, by marketing renewed products. Today, the key is to collect data in a smart and useful way. Our car, for example, can tell us whether it is wise to sit behind the wheel or not. The digital era is here, how are we going to make the most out of it?«
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