Part of a rollercoaster in front of an office building in Yokohama, Japan.

Nordic Circular Pioneers Meet in Japan

“Circular economy is essential if we are to mitigate climate change”, said Kari Herlevi at the get-together. Herlevi is the Project Director for Circular Economy at the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra.

The recent UN IPCC report shows that if we are to have a chance to meet the 2C target agreed upon in Paris in 2015, the world must mobilise like never before. Only mitigating climate change on the supply side is not enough. On current trends, COemissions from material production alone will exceed the estimated global carbon budget. Reducing consumption and production, and using materials already existing in the economy is therefore a prerequisite if we want to recognize the world we are living in 100 years from now.

Circular economy is essential if we are to mitigate climate change.

Kari Herlevi, Project Director for Circular Economy, Sitra

Businesses are vital

Businesses play a significant role in the transition into a circular economy. Their most important contribution is to embrace and integrate circular solutions into their business models.  However, this is a new territory for many, and there is not a universal solution.

“This is why we have started the Nordic Sustainable Business Transformation program,” Marthe Haugland, Senior Innovation Adviser at Nordic Innovation, explains.

“We have already started cooperating with Sitra and Avanto Ventures on a circular venture programme called LOOP. It targets Nordic corporations and seek to match them with start-ups that can help them go circular. This will be launched at Slush 2018 in Helsinki,” she continues.

Nordic Innovation is also working with Sitra to make their Circular Economy Playbook for Finnish SMEs Nordic.

“The Playbook is a great asset to any company wanting to implement a circular business model. Sitra has done it in Finland, and we are taking it to the rest of the Nordics to spread awareness and give companies a tool,” Marthe Haugland says.

Scattered knowledge about circular economy in the Nordics

Today, knowledge about circular economy varies between the Nordic countries. Finland is leading, having had a circular economy strategy since 2016. Denmark just finalized their strategy, and Norway is scheduled to have one ready in the spring 2019. In Sweden, companies like IKEA are spearheading the circular business solutions.

Instead of working in silos, Nordic countries should work together.  It would be a great advantage for all parties involved, and make the Nordic region leading for sustainable business solutions. Cathrine Barth, Co-founder of Circular Norway, hopes for more Nordic collaboration.

“It is a paradox that one has to travel to the other side of the world to meet Nordic circular actors. I think this illustrates why we need more cooperation on circular economy,” she says.

About the World Circular Economy Forum

On the 22-23 of October, the World Circular Economy Forum 2018 is taking place in Yokohama, Japan. The Forum is hosted by the Finnish Innovation Fund, Sitra, and the Japanese Ministry of Environment. 1300 participants from all over the world meets to discuss how we can go from a linear to a circular economy. The next World Circular Economy Forum will take place in Helsinki, Finland, in June 2019. 


Portrait Marthe Haugland

Marthe Haugland

Senior Innovation Adviser
Marthe combines her international experience with her knowledge of business development and innovation to promote Nordic cooperation within the circular economy. She belives Nordic cooperation can drive the systemic change and give Nordic companies a competitive edge going forward.

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