Dear Minister, Dear Guests,
it is also an honour for me, as President of the FPS Economy a.i., to welcome you this evening at the occasion of the opening of the Circular Economy Hotspot.
The FPS Economy aims at developing an environment in which consumers and businesses can prosper. Promoting a competitive, equitable and sustainable market functioning is key to our mission and the circular economy is entangled in numerous dimensions of this mission. The FPS is therefore supported by a Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Economy.
The Circular Economy Hotspot, which has already taken place in the Netherlands, in Luxembourg and in Scotland, is an opportunity to foster best practices and to renew our exchange of views.
The Circular Economy represents one of the most important subjects which are debated nowadays at national, European and global levels. Public opinion has shifted and political opinion has shifted as well. I open newspapers and news websites every morning to see hopeful and inspiring stories about the circular economy.
Today, we can clearly see that the intensification in global production and consumption and our production and consumption patterns are putting increasing pressure on natural resources and biodiversity.
The pressure on natural resources leads to considerable environmental impact and increased price volatility. The transition to a circular economy appears then as a solution making possible to cope constructively with the challenges we face.
Furthermore, the transition to a circular society is not an end in itself. Circular Economy should be seen as an important enabler to respond to other challenges that we face regarding for instance climate change and the loss of biodiversity.
It can also generate important economic opportunities, both for the creation of sustainable jobs and for the innovation and the competitiveness of our economies.
From what I have just mentioned, you can see that the actions orbiting around the circular economy cannot be conceived and implemented without taking into account the global and the European landscape. We need indeed to acknowledge that harmonized and systemic action at European level is an essential pre-condition to make the transition towards a circular economy work.
The new European Commission will seek the most appropriate way for stepping up the efforts. The statements of President Ursula Von der Leyen regarding a ‘European Green Deal’ appear very promising in this respect.
This European Green Deal can help us moving towards a more environmentally friendly circular future, by setting a clear common political agenda, identifying priorities and steering action on climate, biodiversity, circular economy and chemicals in a more integrated way.
Last but not least, I would like to stress that Belgium is already very active in this domain. Our country has a large number of circular economy businesses playing a leader’s role in their fields of activity.
At the industrial level, the circular economy is mainly developed in terms of collection, and recycling. It is also present in the social economy area in repair and reuse activities. In addition, Belgium can rely on cutting-edge expertise in the fields of chemistry and metal recycling. Belgian cities support this momentum and are engaging in their transformation into circular cities.
Today, Belgium intends to consolidate this position and be among the European leaders in the transition to a circular economy.
As early as 2016, Ministers Marghem and Peeters, in collaboration with all stakeholders, drew up an Action Plan that represents the federal government’s contribution to Belgium’s national ambition to become a leader in the circular economy.
The transition to a circular economy is an ambition shared by public authorities, companies and civil society actors. Taking into account the complex architecture of our country, the continuous exchange of views between the different levels of government is key in order to achieve tangible results.
Learning from each other, raising-awareness and getting engaged for a better, more sustainable future is essential to translate this ambition into concrete steps.
Therefore, I am convinced that the Circular Economy Hotspot will foster our ideas and views in this direction.
I encourage all the participants to enjoy the visits that will touch upon very interesting topics, including Sustainable chemistry, Resource recovery and industrial symbiosis, Resource recovery and urban development as well as Recycling and resource efficiency.
During these three days, I am sure, you will have the chance to discover new fields where actions can converge as well as to develop existing synergies.
Thank you for your attention.