Circular Berlin in Helsinki: the Finnish way of looking at circularity

Circular Berlin in Helsinki: the Finnish way of looking at circularity

In the beginning of June the Circular Berlin team traveled to Helsinki to take part in two events about Circular Economy. One of them the World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF) 2019, organised by Sitra and hosted already for the 3rd time. We combined the trip with our on-going working session for the project Circular VET (Vocational Education and Training) that was also hosted by our Finnish project partner.

Learnings from WCE

The event was huge!

Different topics, different sessions and different people from all over the world. The idea of Paul to bring our Circular Berlin stickers showed itself as an absolute win. Between these 2000+ different people from about 70 countries around the world, wearing these stickers actually brought us to more interesting talks and connections with fascinating people that we would have dreamt of.

The main program didn’t bring us many deep dive aha-effects. But the side sessions about circular cities, circular construction, circular economy in Africa, life-long learning and more and the official casual evening events were so intense that we rarely stopped talking before midnight about future ideas and collaboration.

Our impression: the Circular Economy topic gets a new high and becomes a new trend for the intense discussions among politicians and businesses.

But! It was difficult to judge to what extent it moves towards actions. The still missing alignment between speakers and speeches about who is and where to we are actually transitioning left the question open as the biggest threat for Circular Economy: if it will become a new greenwashing trend 4.0 or a real economic breakthrough, where politicians won’t be scared to make radical decisions and businesses include negative externalities into their calculation.

A happy observation for us was that the role of the city in this context got more screen time. Many sessions were dedicated to the topic of Circular City and the role of municipalities to drive the agenda forward. The examples brought from Norway, Finland, the Netherlands and Denmark just proved that the best way to start with circularity in the City is just GO and TRY!

  • Go for the project development
  • Try out different approaches together
  • Be bold and don’t be scared of unpopular decisions

For us this primarily means, we are on the same page – yay! -, and just push further on with our Circular Berlin work.

Learnings from CIRCLE VET

The last chapter of this trip was a 2 days meeting with CircleVET. VET meaning Vocational Education and Training.

This is the Erasmus project where Circular Berlin joined in November 2018 together with other methodology experts and business partners from different European countries: Finland, Italy, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey and Germany. All together with the mission to

  • understand business partners needs and best practices for Circular Economy trainings for professionals in Europe and
  • to craft learning labs for these in the different fields of textile, co-working and waste management.

Handling different expectations and cultural backgrounds is definitely just a side effect of these meetings. Intensive discussions and energy is needed to support with vocational trainings the path towards a sustainable and circular understanding of trades and professions. And make a change in Europe.

Heli-Maija and her colleague Maria from Sykli organized a great frame for our meeting with visits to the Stadin ammattiopisto School and the Perho Culinary, Tourism and Business College. The first, to see a VET school in action with a summer school around Circular Economy to design textiles and fashion. And the second with the student driven Perho Green City Farm – a great Green Urban Farm to get students not only in culinary but also marketing and other business administrations back into contact with the resources they need and sell.

We are happy to participate in these projects and initiatives and are looking forward to our next chapters together!

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