5 Guiding Principles for an Inclusive Circular Economy

Principles summarized post a Twitter Chat with Circle Economy Netherlands

An inclusive circular economy focuses on creating positive social externalities at every step of the way. This means making social impact the driving force rather than the afterthought.

This article has been written by Circle Economy following the Twitter Chat (#CircleChat) organised on the thematic of “Designing Inclusiveness into the Circular Economy”.

“The argument for the circular economy has traditionally been an economic argument first and foremost: resource scarcity threatens a healthy bottom line, so reuse, remanufacturing, and refurbishment strategies provide a sound solution for mitigating our reliance on fraying natural capital. Because the circular economy can hardly be divorced from the benefits it brings our planet, the environmental argument for it has also steadily grown stronger as a result.

We believe it is high time the concept also evolves to put people on an equal footing with profit and planet.

1. Designing for positive social externalities at every level is key.

For example: governments can establish laws that support and enable social inclusion; businesses can involve and empower informal workers; industry leaders can ensure smaller players are accounted for across sectors; product developers can design for all abilities; consumers can signal a demand for fairer products; and entrepreneurs can adopt work-integration business models… The list goes on.

2. Poverty is an important item on the inclusiveness agenda.

A universal basic income, for example, could not only help eliminate poverty, but it could also offset the job losses involved in work automation. Finland, ever the social innovator, is already experimenting with the idea.

3. But it’s not the only one.

4. Growth doesn’t have to be the enemy if it is properly designed.

GDP, for example, has always been a poor reflection of a country’s prosperity; employment, similarly, fails to capture the larger picture; and while indicators like Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness are a step in the right direction, we still need tools to effectively measure and benchmark the circular economy in its multidimensionality.

Few are currently available, but we’re working on it.

5. Technology as a force for good.

Blockchain technology, for example, could be key in enabling inclusiveness as it provides increased transparency, decentralises power, and is already being used in ensuring fair supply chains.

We need to design for all three dimensions from the onset. The circular economy is a systemic, long-term, and tangible approach to both doing business and doing good. The economic benefits it brings with it make it an appealing and sound concept to rally those in power around it, and it is environmentally beneficial by definition. Let’s make it socially inclusive by design.

It’s not too much to tackle at once if we all collaborate.

Look back on the full conversation here

The Circular Humansphere or how humans will preserve conditions conducive to life #CircHumansphere