HELSINKI: Climate change, pollution, excess waste, renewable energy and more were on the agenda as expert speakers, environmentalists and business moguls gathered to discuss and tackle the issues affecting planet Earth on Tuesday’s first day of the World Circular Economy Forum in Helsinki.
The circular economy and how companies can adopt the model was discussed, as many companies would like to embrace it but lack the knowledge. They need examples in order to be inspired and to learn.
One of the issues addressed was about being more organized with our resources and using them wisely. At the moment, the world has an excess of resources that are poorly managed and an influx of food insecurity, with an estimated 2.3 billion people — about 29 percent of the global population — facing dangerous levels of food security.
The momentum and drive behind the forum was to equip businesses with the know-how and enthusiasm to embrace the circular economy.
Ahead of the forum, Arab News spoke to Anne Vasara, the Finnish ambassador for the circular economy and energy. She said: “It’s really a super week. We have so many events going on around the World Circular Economy Forum because, of course, this forum itself is the flagship of the circular economy of Finnish origin, of the Finnish Innovation Fund, SITRA, and the Finnish government, and it has been for several years.”
We know that what we need to do is find solutions to many global environmental problems, of which one of the most urgent at the moment is climate change.
Finnish ambassador for the circular economy and energy
She explained that the forum aims to bring together “all the most important actors, organizations, governments, private sector, academia related to the circular economy … (There) will be a record participation of over 2,000 participants from all over the world. And this is really something which is crucial for the circular economy because you cannot do it on your own.”
Vasara added: “You need wide international cooperation because we are talking about the planetary crisis, we are talking about solutions. How, in a positive manner, by the circular economy, we can bring solutions to climate change, to biodiversity loss and the depletion of all natural resources. So, this is really a week of possibilities and solutions.”
Kerstin Stendhal, Finland’s special envoy for climate change, told Arab News: “It’s come at a very good time to Helsinki, because at the moment what we are seeing is a lot of things happening in the international environmental arena. Next week, we will be going to the Bonn Climate Change Conference, which will be preparing for the extremely important forthcoming COP28, which will be held in Dubai.
“And so, the world is coming together … We know that what we need to do is find solutions to many global environmental problems, of which one of the most urgent at the moment is climate change. That’s why I think it’s also really, really good that this week we will be having the World Circular Economy Forum here in Helsinki.”
Stendhal added: “What we also need to do is, while we recognize the problems and we know very well about the problems — the (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has told us about the climate change challenges that we are faced with — we also know that we have a lot of solutions. And these are the ones that we will need to be communicating about in order to both combat, to lessen emissions, to adapt to a world that is changing, whether we want it or not. And also to prepare a world which is fit for our future generations and children.”
This is the seventh edition of the World Circular Economy Forum and 20 international organizations are contributing to the issues being discussed. About 2,000 participants from more than 100 countries are attending in person and another 6,000 are viewing online.
Last year’s forum was held in Kigali, Rwanda. Rwanda’s Environment Minister Dr. Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya said in a speech at this year’s event: “(We have seen) trailblazing circular solutions from Africa. The global circular economy movement is growing. Last year’s forum launched an action plan and roadmap — implementation is on the way.”