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The Circular Economy in Developing Asia and Beyond

While the circular economy is gaining momentum in the developed world, it is just starting to make its way into developing countries in Asia and beyond. Building on local cultures and traditions that value principles of recycling and reuse, developing innovative solutions, and adapting to local specificities, the circular economy unfolds at varying paces but with proven benefits.

The SWITCH-Asia Programme, whose Network Facility is hosted by the CSCP, works to support SCP in Asia. Circular models are becoming an integral part of its goal. SWITCH-Asia has reviewed the status of the Circular Economy in recent publications (http://www.scp-centre.org/publications/advancing-circular-economy-asia/) and hosted experts and SME entrepreneurs from various countries to present their innovative solutions, share best practices, and discuss challenges and opportunities in implementing the Circular Economy at networking events, the latest in Brussels and Helsinki.

Asian SMEs pitch at the 1st World Circular Economy Forum

In Helsinki, SWITCH-Asia was present at the first World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF), and organised a side event titled “Promoting green investments: matchmaking opportunities for innovative SMEs from EU-funded projects in the Circular Economy.”

As in Europe, Asian SMEs are known to be the backbone of developing economies and represent one of the main beneficiary groups of the SWITCH-Asia Programme. Despite their ability to drive the economy and influence consumers, Asian SMEs have limited capital and capacity to adopt new technologies that support, for example, eco-design or cradle-to-cradle business models that would reduce their ‘environmental footprints’.

It became evident that, to move to a circular type of economy, special attention and support need to be given to some pioneer SMEs who have already developed circular business models, contributing to the increased use of renewable energy as well as to recycling and waste management (Read about SWITCH-Asia’s publication on Waste management and the circular economy in Asia (http://www.switch-asia.eu/publications/waste-management-and-the-circular-economy-in-asia/)).

To address those needs on the spot, SWITCH-Asia hosted a session where around 50 SMEs were able to pitch in front of investor panels. Many of the entrepreneurs expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to present their circular business models to the big players in the banking industry, receive feedback, and a chance to arrange a one-on-one meeting. You can read the whole press release here (http://www.switch-asia.eu/news/transitioning-towards-the-circular-economy-smes-from-switch-asia-show-the-way-forward-in-asia-at-th/)

What does a Circular Economy look and feel like?

In Brussels, this June, SWITCH-supported entrepreneurs showcased their circular business models and related products at the “European Development Days”, which took place under the theme of “Investing in Development”.

The SWITCH-Asia Network Facility participated with increased presence and impact, bringing together representatives of all SWITCH Programmes including SWITCH Africa Green, SwitchMed and SWITCH to Green while showcasing “SWITCH products”, which visitors could observe and touch, to get a feeling of what SCP in practice looks and feels like. The products were all examples from the recently launched SWITCH products website (http://switch-products.eu/).

SWITCH hosted a dedicated lab session on innovative support services for the private sector in developing an inclusive, resilient economy that integrates circular economy principles. Strategies and opportunities for leveraging existing financing and optimising private funding to boost green investments and green entrepreneurship were discussed as well as renewed public-private partnerships, North-South and South-South cooperation, and mentoring from SWITCH beneficiaries to peers in the SME sector.

The experiences shared by the SWITCH entrepreneurs and the ensuing debates echoed the words of DevCo’s Head of Unit, Chantal Marijnissen at the opening of the lab session: “Programmes such as SWITCH are terribly important to bring about the circular economy”.

Please contact Silvia Sartori if you have any questions.