In the course of this year, a nationally significant centre of expertise, which has also attracted international attention and appreciation, has been built in Sea Lapland. The Circular Economy Centre, which was established in a collaboration between Digipolis, the City of Kemi, Lapland University of Applied Sciences and Sitra, has become a forerunner in the development of operating models for the circular economy in Finland.
“In the first year of operation, the Circular Economy Centre in Kemi has gained momentum in the development of a national eco-industrial park network and as an enabler of business projects. The Circular Economy Centre, which operates in close symbiosis with Sitra, Lapland University of Applied Sciences and an extensive network of industrial companies, has already used seamless cooperation to make its first success stories possible, some of which will be announced in the near future,” says Tero Nissinen, Mayor of Kemi. The centre’s ongoing surveying process, focused on identifying regulatory challenges for the development of the industrial circular economy, is of particular national importance. The surveying process, which also reaches the EU level, has been driven forward together with major Finnish industries. “In addition to the national core task of eco-industrial park development, future opportunities that have opened up include the role of an international circular economy pioneer. Future development resources should be solidified with funding, such as EU Horizon 2020 funding, for which we aim to prepare a more extensive project portfolio,” states Mayor Nissinen.
“At the cutting edge of international development”
The World Circular Economy Forum 2018 showcased the world's best circular economy innovations and brought international decision-makers, companies and experts together in Yokohama, Japan. The key actors of the Circular Economy Centre, Digipolis and Lapland University of Applied Sciences, were also involved. “Around 1,300 experts from around 80 countries attended. My experience tells me that we are at the forefront of development, internationally, as well as in Finland. In international terms, we have gone a long way towards fulfilling our concept," concludes Kari Poikela, Centre Manager of the Circular Economy Centre. The WCEF promotes international cooperation between businesses, policy makers and experts, while helping to achieve the UN's sustainable development goals through the circular economy. Sitra was named the world's leading public-sector circular economy actor at the World Economic Forum in January 2018: with the help of the WCEF, Finland can play a major role in resolving global challenges.
“The message of the forum can be summarised by stating that the circular economy is viewed as the world’s sustainable growth engine, through which growth and prosperity will be disconnected from the increasing use of natural resources. Finland can be a major actor in this development,” says Poikela.