"The transition to a new economic model integrating all pillars of sustainability should be in the centre of our attention. All levels (global, EU, national, regional, local, city) and all stakeholders (public & private actors, financial sector, civil society, academia...) should actively participate in the system change".
Those are the words of Janez Potočnik, former European Commissioner and current co-chairman of the UNEP, during the first international seminar of the RETRACE project, acronym of “A Systemic Approach for Regions Transitioning Towards a Circular Economy”, headed by Italy under the coordination of the
Politecnico di Torino and with the participation of Regione Piemonte.
RETRACE is an Interreg Europe project, funded by the European Union, that involves different research groups and the respective regional administrations of 5 different European countries: Italy, Spain, France, Romania and Slovenia.
How is the transition to a Circular Economy happening in Europe? What innovation can the regional experiences related to the Circular Economy offer?
The project aims to answer these questions through the innovative application of Systemic Design for the design of regional policies. This is why the project started from what - in technical jargon - is called "holistic diagnosis": an in-depth analysis of the territorial systems involved that took into account geographical, demographic, economic, cultural and urban data to define the potentials of the territory towards Circular Economy. The analysis focused on the identification of the outputs of regional supply chains: this was a crucial starting point to circumscribe the most relevant problems and start to imagine processes that are truly circular, processes that do not produce waste because they are designed so that
material and energy flows are regenerated continuously throughout the entire life cycle of the product or service. However, to create new circular processes, it is necessary to put into connection different sectors with different production requirements. We need to develop networks of enterprises that have never collaborated with each other and which do not know the respective potentials and processes.
Before looking for technological and operational solutions, it is essential that regional, national and European policies tackle the institutional, organisational and cultural obstacles to establish a new Circular Economy.
The detailed results of the analysis were collected in the first publication of the RETRACE project “Systemic Design method guide for policymaking, A circular Europe on the way”, available for free download.