Ladeja Godina: “It is a collective responsibility to make a circular vision a reality”
Founder and executive director of Circular Change, and at the same time president since 2018 of the coordination group of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform (ECESP), she has participated in the preparation of roadmaps for three European countries, and today she is one of the main advisers in this matter for the Eurochile team that leads the work of preparing the Roadmap for the Circular Economy. From Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, she deepens in this interview with Eurochile the role she will have in preparing this document in Chile, as well as the importance of adopting this trend in the country’s economy and development.
Last Thursday, Ladeja Godina Košir was one of the main speakers at the webinar “Chile’s road to a circular economy: European strategies and visions”, organized by the Eurochile Business Foundation -and in which the Dutchman Freek van Eijk, director of Holland Circular Spot also exhibited – and where she stated that the most important thing in the elaboration of a roadmap in this matter in the country is the process itself, because “what happens to us during this journey is what defines us and what remains. And so stakeholder engagement, leadership, and the role of government are key”.
Ladeja Godina knows about it. Founder and executive director of Circular Change, and at the same time president since 2018 of the coordination group of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform (ECESP), she has participated in the preparation of roadmaps on this matter for three European countries, and today she is one of the main advisers for the Eurochile team that leads the work of preparing the Roadmap for the Circular Economy in Chile, an initiative led and promoted by the Ministry of the Environment.
Today’s role in the Eurochile team is mainly oriented to the work of the public-private council that is working on the lines of action of the road map, as well as the transfer of its experience in this matter.
“We can not wait for a good time to implement the circular change, we have to decide now the principles that are part of sustainability,” she said at the seminar on Thursday.
From Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia she deepens with Eurochile the role she will have in the elaboration of the Roadmap of the Circular Economy in Chile, as well as the importance of adopting this trend in the economy and development of the country.
What will your role be in the work that Eurochile is carrying out for the preparation of the Road Map of the Circular Economy in Chile? How will this work be done?
Each circular economy roadmapping process is unique. We cannot just simply “copy paste” the methodology and lessons learned in one country to another environment. That is what makes every single circular economy journey exciting. At Circular Change, Institute for Circular Economy that I have founded 5 years ago, we feel privileged having the opportunity participating in the process of building circular economy roadmap in Chile. Our main role is to contribute with experience and expert knowledge on Circular Economy and roadmap elaboration during the consultancy. Sharing concrete experiences, we have gained while working on the Roadmap Towards the Circular Economy in Slovenia (2016/17), CE Roadmap for Serbia (2019) and kick-off activities for the CE Roadmap in Montenegro (2020), as well as while contributing to several studies and researches on circular economy roadmapping processes in Europe, is what we are bringing in the
project developed by Eurochile Business Foundation for the MMA. Enabling space for discussions and engaging different stakeholders, coaching and orchestrating the process, co-creating recommendation for the roadmap design, and at the very end supporting communication and implementation of the document is what we are going to work on. Due to the post COVID-19 situation it looks that most of the work will be done online, not allowing us to meet in person. Hopefully the time will come to jointly celebrate the introduction of the CE Roadmap in Chile as well as in Europe.
The circular economy is a new trend, which is not yet fully deployed or installed. Why bet on it now?
Indeed, we have used to live very “circular” only few decades ago. I am sure that each of us still remembers how our parents or grandparents have been consuming local seasonal food, maintaining and repairing washing machines (that have lasted more than 20 years), wearing one dress several seasons, reusing plastic bags over and over again … In the meantime, global production and consumption has exceeded planetary boundaries and it became obvious that we need better management of natural resources for lowering our environmental and climate impacts. With pandemic crisis we have finally realised, how vulnerable and fragile we, as human race, actually are. With globalisation we became more interconnected and interdependent than ever. So, the time has come to focus on co-crating resilient economies and societies, based on shared values and joined vision to ensure the quality of (safe and healthy) life for everyone. In this context, the circular economy is even more relevant than ever. It is focussed on designing out waste and pollution. On keeping products and materials in use for as long as possible. On maintaining value. On regenerating our natural systems. On making business more efficient and effective. On creating new jobs. On encouraging creativity and innovation. On multi-stakeholders collaboration and co-creation. On long term thinking and short-term actions. Wouldn’t you bet on going circular?
How have you seen the progress of this trend in the country, what strengths or comparative advantages does Chile have in this matter, and where do you identify that there is more work to be done?
At this very moment I do not have sufficient insights into the situation in Chile, so I rely more on what the Chilean roadmapping team is providing as the output of their research and engagement with different stakeholders included in the process. What I see as one of the biggest assets are natural resources (forestry system, maritime system, energy and mineral resources) and cultural richness of the country, including very valuable cultural heritage. Country’s extreme length and a wide variety of climates is making it very unique. One of the challenges is also the fact that the majority of population lives in cities (most in Santiago). Exploring potentials together with representatives of different geographical areas and of different professional backgrounds, openly discussing interests of different stakeholders, jointly visioning the future based on shared values, enabling space for constructive discussion where everyone is equally important – that is how even those strengths and advantages that are not recognized on the first sight, can be mapped and considered as an opportunity.
You have already worked on the elaboration of this type of instruments. What is the most complex to solve in these processes?
In whichever country I have been engaged in the circular economy transition exercises – from Japan to Brazil – I have been looking for the “DNA” of the nation, for those core values that are embedded in culture and behavior. We, human beings, are those who are designing our present and future – by decisions we make, by choices we take. I find it crucial that circular economy transition of the country is harmonized with the culture of the country. Therefore, I am always super curious. Trying to understand people, in our case representatives of Chile, first. Being humble and opened for what you have to propose, share, introduce – that is how I navigate through the joint process of roadmapping.
How is it possible to embrace the need to set goals that are ambitious enough to give a real boost to the circular economy, with the possibility of generating agreements and consensus that allow everyone to become part of these agreements?
We have to be ambitious since there is not much time left to preserve life of human beings on our planet. The climate crisis escalates every year. Fires, droughts, floods, tornadoes are threatening our lives around the world. With COVID-19 the situation became even more severe. We have agreed on SDG’s, in Europe we have adopted the New Green Deal and Circular Economy Action Plan. Now is time to act. What we need is a systemic, holistic approach and global governance. By protecting our “silos thinking” we will never be ready for radical collaboration. I like to use a very bold statement: True leadership is not based on the title on your business card, it is based on the number of people willing to follow you. By opening our minds and hearts for a positive, circular change, we can jointly make agreements a reality.
What are the goals, objectives, and vision that Chile should consider in its Road Map?
It is of crucial importance to understand that the whole roadmapping process is “work in progress”. What counts at the end is not the document as such, but the identification of all stakeholders with the challenges and their commitment to contribute to the circular change. Vision is the first exercise – but it can be revised and updated during the process. The simpler, the better. It has to resonate with what people in Chile would like to jointly achieve in the next 20 years, what country they would like to live in and how the principles of circular economy can contribute to their vision. Goals and objectives are the milestones on that circular journey – social, environmental and economic dimension shall be embedded in them. Concrete actions, sources and leaders of actions needed for the adoption of the circular economy shall be clearly defined, measures set and monitoring process agreed. It is a collective responsibility to make a circular vision a reality.
What factors should be taken into account when establishing these objectives?
Since we are talking about the circular economy roadmap, the principles of circular economy have to be “the compass” while establishing these objectives. For sure we have to consider to what kind of investments are we going to say yes, and to which no. By implementing systemic approach, we can better understand and manage different sectors, since they are all interdependent. Agriculture, forestry, manufacturing, mobility, energy, construction, mining – whatever we address, it is related to other sectors. Objectives we choose will define our future – and it has to be an alternative, sustainable future, providing us a good livelihood.
You are chair of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform, which seeks to accelerate the development of this trend by involving and coordinating the work of public authorities, companies, unions, consumers and civil society as a whole. What concrete results has this initiative had?
Our vision is to become “the network of networks” for circular economy changemakers. Established in 2017 by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in partnership with the European Commission, ECESP supports civil society organisations and public authorities accelerating the transition to a circular economy across Europe by fostering dialogue, sharing knowledge and exchanging good practices. Stakeholder engagement is encouraged far beyond the Coordination Group: a website has been set up to serve as a virtual meeting place and conversation space for all members of the Circular Economy community. The idea is to strengthen collective knowledge by learning from each other’s good practices and sharing lessons learnt. So far we have published more than 250 examples of good practices to provide inspiration and facilitate the exchange of lessons learnt by showing how circular pioneers identify opportunities, overcome barriers, and tackle regulatory challenges. Strategies, Roadmaps, News and Events are published regularly and communicated via social media. We have organized 3 international conferences in Brussels, commissioned two studies in 2019: one mapping circular economy policy in Europe and another reviewing the impact of CE on the fast-moving consumer industry. We have published joined opinion on the Circular Economy Action Plan and established several leadership groups jointly working on selected circular economy topics. We are proud that we have extended our activities and engaged different stakeholders form all around the globe.
Many times it has been said that it is the companies that create a circular economy, because at the end of the day it is about the economy. What must companies do to accelerate their transition to circular economy?
A lot of companies have already recognized the benefits of shifting from linear to circular business models. The COVID-19 crisis has put additional pressure on many companies; therefore, it is even more important that they maintain their commitment towards sustainability and make their recovery “green and circular”. Innovating, using new technologies, reducing energy consumption, using sharing platforms, reducing waste, re-using materials, shortening value chains, expanding lifecycles, shifting from products to services, sourcing materials that are fit for a circular economy … all that leads to more sustainable and resilient business. What is needed is strong collaboration between business, government and civil society – transition can not be accelerated only by business sector.
The circular economy is a strategy for economic, environmental and social development. How can we take advantage of the current crisis to give it a further boost? Is it the right time to do it?
It is now or newer. COVID-19 has shown us that we do not have time for going “back to normal«. Climate change was and still remains is a problem. Dealing with two crisis – health and climate – is urgent. Frans Timmermans, the Executive Vice-President in his opening remarks at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue end of April 2020 underlined: “And if we are able to do that [mobilize investment] and have the possibility to invest, then we have to make sure that the investment we make takes us into the new economy. Because if we don’t use our investment capacity to create a sustainable economy, an economy that is resilient for the future, based on the Green Deal, then the old economy might be more or less restored, but we will not have the means to transform that into an economy that can weather the next crises. Then we will lose out twice. This is something that I believe is unacceptable and we should at all cost avoid.”