How to … build a resilient, sustainable and circular economy for future generations

  • economy
  • environment

Check out the findings from our first workshop in the 'healthy, thriving and inclusive cities' series!


Capacity building to assess our resource consumption, youth education on healthy diets, and local business partnerships are some of the key actions needed to kick-start the transformative change needed to build a resilient and circular economy for thriving and inclusive cities. 

That’s what Eurocities members concluded in our first workshop in the ‘Healthy, thriving and inclusive cities’ series. 

By tackling those challenges highlighted through the pandemic - from steering structural funds towards more equitable and greener mobility solutions to fostering sustainable jobs and a healthier future for next generation – this new workshop series aims to broaden experience among Eurocities members and urban experts, for a new and ‘better normal’.

So how can we build a circular economy fit for the future?

Taking the city approach to circularity is crucial, explained Annerieke Douma, Director Global Alliances and Cities at Circle Economy, to ensure a positive transition to circularity for work and workers. The Circle City Scan tool helps local governments to discover and prioritise which sectors, materials, and impact areas are a priority in local agendas, based on data input from users as well as private and publicly available socioeconomic and material flow data. The tool is being piloted across European cities – including Glasgow and Prague - to show businesses and citizens how the circular economy can be implemented through practical and scalable strategies.


How to tackle the skills mismatch and shorten value chains

Replicate and build on successful city to business partnerships. Innovative business models (BMs) through digitalization. These are key to affecting transformative change for local, inclusive, and sustainable labour markets.

The COVID crisis has caused dramatic changes in the workplace and in business activities, as Hans Verdonk, co-coordinator of the Partnership on Jobs and Skills in the Local Economy for the City of Rotterdam, described. Rapid digitalisation played a pivotal role in this sense, as a more cost-effective way to scale learning efforts, but investment on a massive-scale are necessary to allow all citizens, and in particular students, to have access to digital equipment, and improve distance learning effectiveness. Further, digitalisation means business models (BMs) innovation: cities should be able to take the lead on the capacity building matter for creating reskilling actions and life mutual learning opportunities but also on relocalising and shortening value chains. The first step to be taken is fostering communication: local leaders must initiate new forms of involvement for the communities, with the engagement of civil society and consolidation of existing business partnership.


How to foster sustainable consumption?

Capacity building for resource consumption assessment models, peer learning from city to small business circular solutions, and education for healthy diets. These were the key actions according to Eurocities members from our working groups waste, education, and innovation.

We can’t begin to address our overconsumption, without first understanding it. That’s the message from Carlos Ribeiro, Executive Director at Laboratório da Paisagem de Guimarães. Guimaraes have been working with the Global Footprint Network to assess the city’s biocapacity, as its first step to developing measures to become more circular and sustainable. Some other cities – such as Amsterdam’s doughnut economy model – are taking similar measures, but large-scale capacity building is needed to ensure all cities are on the path to understanding their ‘budget’ of natural resources.

What’s next? We can learn so much from each other. Learnings from individual sectors can help us scale up action in others. Take the fashion sector, for example. It can take over 2,700 litres of water to make one white t-shirt, that’s roughly the same amount of water one person would drink over 3 years. Collaboration with small businesses is key to embed circularity at the heart of the city’s consumption, explained Serena Chillè, Resilience Officer for the City of Milan. Milan is now more and more looking closely at small businesses and innovative start-ups and what they are doing in terms of circularity. An example is the now wide-spread Too Good To Go initiative, which has become very popular in the city in recent months.

But involving all stakeholders is crucial: youth education for healthy diets to foster collective action and behaviour change, such as the Food for Life programme in the UK; scaling up circular procurement with collaboration between business and cities; raising awareness on sustainable consumption through eco-labelled products and creating dialogue with citizens; collaborating closely with researchers and fostering integrated science and policy dialogues.  

Signing up to commitments can help spur debate within our cities and drive action for transformative change. In this respect, Eurocities is launching the Green City Accord to engage cities and spur improvement in local environmental performance, with specific commitments on circularity and waste. Find out more about this initiative here. You can still register (closing 14.10) for the launch event or watch it here.


Join us for the next workshop from the series

20 October: Moving on, healthy mobility for all in a thriving city

·       Workshop 2 focus on mobility planning for resilient cities, decarbonisation and teleworking. Register here.

20 October: Urban design for healthy and accessible public spaces

·       Workshop 3 will explore various aspects of public space from parks to streets, and consider how to address associated inequalities and challenges. Register here.

26 October: Built to thrive - using, reusing, renewing buildings for the wellbeing of citizens and our planet

·       Workshop 4 will explore sustainable adaptive reuse of buildings; how can we ensure our buildings are built to thrive so that they are affordable and sustainable? Register here.


More information: