• 26 February 2021

    Circular Economy in rural areas

    By Jim MacNeil, Tondo Associate English Version Exploring circular economy in rural areas The use of real-world laboratories to experiment with alternative design, business models and economies While cities present unique challenges in transitioning to the circular economy, rural regions also face their own set of challenges in doing so. Mountains have always provided vital natural resources, social and economic services to communities. Mountain regions are primarily known for their tourism and concentrations of tertiary sector economies, which represent the main sources of income for many rural communities and has become the quick solution to increase the GDP of depopulating communities, a common trend of many mountain regions over the last half-century. In order to have resilient economies able to withstand unexpected and devastating events, firstly, there should be a certain degree of diversity where a system is not so reliant on one industry, and secondly, the system should be flexible in order to adapt to new modes of operating and respond adequately to these events. Circular systems, like natural systems, are intended to be collaborative. Therefore, as a society we also need a change in mindset away from the competitive nature of capitalist economies. In order to do this, businesses and communities should demonstrate the benefits of adapting a new collaborative approach. MonViso Institute (MVI) is an example of how rural actors are taking advantage of their geographical location not only as a centre of experimentation – providing students and visitors inspiration and tools for change, but also in their ability to be self-sufficient, which rural areas have as an advantage over their urban counterparts. MonViso Institute – Demonstrating Circular Solutions Nestled in the Po Valley at 1500 metres a.s.l. in the municipality of Ostana (Piedmont), Tobias Luthe and his group of researchers, designers and entrepreneurs are experimenting with...
  • 25 December 2020

    Two concepts for the same goal?

    By Alessandro Arlati – Research Assistant at HCU, Department of Urban Planning and Regional Development English Version During the last decade, Circular Economy (CE) has more and more affirmed its relevance as a conceptual framework for supporting future sustainable development in our cities. The Ellen McArthur Foundation, as a way to eschew the take-make-waste mentality that has largely characterized our economic systems, defined CE paradigm in 2013. The CE paradigm claims for a change (often referred to as “transition”) from a linear economy, not only by mitigating and adjusting its negative impacts. It implies a more profound systemic shift, aiming at building “long-term resilience, generate business and economic opportunities, and provide environmental and societal benefits”. Yet, CE is not alone in this objective. Many other concepts are paving their way in the attempt of countering the negative impacts of the society we are living in. Among others, Nature-based Solutions (NBS) are becoming a fancy answer to address various societal challenges by imitating nature. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) defined the main objective of NBS implementation in its ability to support the achievement of society’s development goals and safeguard human well-being providing simultaneously economic, social and environmental benefits. Now it is worth asking ourselves whether there is a synergy between these two concepts. Looking at the definitions and the objectives that both CE and NBS are aiming at, it does not sound absurd. Furthermore, it is important to mention at this point, that both CE and NBS were included in the EU research and innovation programmes (e.g. Horizon 2020) in 2015. Yet, the series of projects started within these programmes have taken two definite and distinct directions: in other words, the two concepts do not figure out as connected in some way. However, it is possible to identify...
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