On August 19, the IUC Asia held its final stakeholder consultations webinar on Designing Circular Cities in Malaysia. On the call were 82 experts from the EU and Malaysia, comprised of representatives from government, private sector, research and civil society.
Experts exchanged views on circular economy challenges and solutions identified in the previous online sessions. They explored how city-to-city cooperation with European counterparts will support the transition of Malaysian cities to circular cities. The EU side shared how their city councils & municipalities have managed to tackle the above-mentioned challenges collectively and how financing circularity will assist these Malaysian cities acting as potential engines in the transition to circular, sustainable economy, and how it opens the way to emerging industries and new jobs with higher added value. Identifying and advancing these opportunities is important, and the IUC Asia project introduced some of the most cutting-edge technology innovations and financing initiatives in the field.
The online session was opened today by moderator Jacqueline Chang, Circular Economy Consultant for the EU IUC Asia Project. She invited opening remarks from Francesco Floris, Head of Trade and Economic Section of Delegation of the European Union to Malaysia. He expressed his gratitude to the IUC Asia programme for the opportunity to discuss further on the potential of the EU-Malaysia collaboration in the area of circular economy. “With the current focus on Covid-19 and how to recover economically from the pandemic, cities in Europe and Asia face the challenge to transform sustainably.” Mr. Floris explained how the EU’s recently adopted European Green Deal foresees €1 trillion of investments to transform the Union into a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy. “The EU Action Plan for Circular Economy is part of the Green Deal and establishes a concrete programme of action, with measures covering the whole cycle: from production and consumption to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials. This will contribute to close the loop of product lifecycles through greater reducing, reusing and recycling,” he added.
Mr. Floris acknowledged how the IUC programme is an important global platform to display how to implement the United Nations Sustainable Urban Development Goals (SDGs) and the European Union’s Urban Agenda at the local level. He added that the IUC is an example of the way local authorities can more effectively achieve their goals in partnership with the key stakeholders including research, businesses and civil society organisations. And finally, he added that today’s session would illustrate how financial tools can also pave the way to boost emerging industries, create new jobs with higher added value during the transition period. “Today’s online stakeholder exchange is thus as interesting as it is important. Why? Because it gives us the opportunity to highlight and define our collaboration, and to encourage EU and Malaysia cities to engage in city-to-city cooperation.”
The IUC Asia team added further welcome remarks and opened Part I: Circular Cities: International Urban Cooperation – Sustainable and Innovative Cities and Regions. He introduced few examples of pilot projects and focused on the Green Deal of the EU as the policy package to support the transition towards a circular economy. This was followed by Lee Lih Shyan, Director, Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing of Petaling Jaya City Council. He spoke about circular economy solutions, regarding waste challenges of food, household, plastics, construction materials, and digital platforms as enablers for circularity. Josephine Tan, General Manager of Penang Green Council followed with input on its city’s challenges. In a poll asking “what Penang needs most from EU city collaboration to ensure that the pilot projects will be successful”, the answers ranked as 1) Strategic planning and operational support, 2) Technology and knowledge sharing, and finally 3) Funds.
The session proceed with Part II: How did EU City Councils & Municipalities Approach and Overcome the Top 5 Challenges Shared by Malaysian cities. Five top challenges Malaysian cities are facing in their transition towards circular economy were discussed:
- Food, organic waste & water security;
- Plastic pollution and packaging (in particular single-use plastics);
- Construction material flow and design (including demolition waste);
- Household e-waste & hazardous waste;
- Lack of digital sharing tools & platforms as enabler for circular cities.
Marino Cavallo, Head of Research, Innovation and Management of EU Projects for the Metropolitan City of Bologna spoke on Circular Economy: Benefits and Good Practices for Food Waste. Mr. Simon Ellin, CEO of The Recycling Association, European Recycling Industries’ Confederation (EuRIC) discussed Recycling 2.0 – How Digital solutions can boost circular value chains. Mr Piero Pelizzaro, Chief Resilience Officer, Milan City Council recounted their Smart City/IoT/Digital Solutions for Circular Cities. Francisco Luis Benítez, Expert, Granada Municipality Digital detailed Innovation & Blockchain Technology for Circular Cities
The final session today was rounded out by Part III: Financing Circularity. Burcu Tuncer, Head of Circular Development at ICLEI World Secretariat provided an Introduction to innovative financing tools. Søren Hansen, Project Director of Ramboll and Team Leader of ADB Project of ASEAN Smart Cities Initiative (ASCI) introduced the ASEAN Smart Cities Trust Fund. Satheesh Pillai, Partner at CircleUp.org presented Financing Circularity: Strategies for Local Governments and provided practical examples of companies aiming to achieve circular economy solutions.
The event was closed by Alexandra Lehmann from the EU’s Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI), who congratulated speakers & participants for the high-level of the exchange and encouraged them to develop concrete follow-up projects between Malaysian and European cities.
Webinar presentations from the speakers can be found below:
01_Petaling Jaya Circular Economy 5 Challenges Our Preferred Choice IUC EU 19082020-1