European Circular Cities Declaration: Calling Cities to Become Circularity Pioneers

The transformation from linear to circular economy is high on the European Commission’s agenda and a cornerstone of the EU Green Deal. Boosting circularity at the city level has manifold benefits: it makes mobility, waste management, and urban planning more sustainable. Circular cities are also better and more inclusive places to live in. The CSCP together with ICLEI, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Eurocities, UNEP, and other partners have developed the European Circular Cities Declaration. The declaration, which is designed to accelerate the transition to circular economy at the city level, is not only a commitment but also a short guide and a learning platform. We call on cities to sign the European Circular Cities Declaration and become circularity pioneers!

Imagine a city that promotes the transition from linear to circular economy in an integrated and inclusive way by collaborating with citizens, businesses, and the research community to develop and test business models that decouple resource use from economic growth. A city that maintains the value and utility of products, components, materials and nutrients for as long as possible in order to close material loops and minimise harmful resource use and waste generation. A city that through public procurement and investment budgets drives demand for circular products and services. And by doing all of this, improves human wellbeing, reduces emissions, protects and enhances biodiversity, and promotes social justice — in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). What is key: such a truly circular city does not focus on conventional post-corona recovery to business-as-usual, but regards the economic downturn as a chance for transitioning to different, more resilient and sustainable economic strategies.

For all of these reasons, as well as the mandate to promote wellbeing and responsibly serve their citizens, local and regional governments are called to lead the circular transition. The European Circular Cities Declaration, released on 1 October 2020 at the European Sustainable Cities & Towns Conference 2020 in Mannheim, is an action that cities can take to become circularity pioneers. Twenty-six cities have already signed the declaration. Find a list of founding signatories here.

The voluntary and non-binding declaration will support the signing cities and regions to accelerate the implementation of a circular economy in Europe by acting as ambassadors of circularity at a city level. Besides demonstrating leadership and commitment at the municipal and regional level, the European Circular Cities Declaration will also open up opportunities for city-to-city cooperation to push for rapid and effective implementation on the ground.

A systemic shift to a regenerative economic model is fundamental to achieving climate neutrality and keeping resource consumption within planetary boundaries. Recognising and tapping into the power of cities and regions is of paramount value.

The European Circular Cities Declaration was co-developed by the CSCP, ICLEI, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Eurocities, UNEP, Pioneer Cities and other partners.

If you wonder where to start the circular journey in your city, check out the Declaration now!

For a hands-on approach on circularity at a city level, join our City Loops workshop on Cities and Circular Economy! Our partners at ICLEI are also running a separate project called City Loops. The common name was not planned, but they both have a common aim – to help cities become more circular!

Watch our webinar Circularity at the City Level, which sparked interesting discussions about smart and efficient ways of leveraging the potential of cities and municipal utilities in the transition towards more circularity.

To learn more about circularity in the context of cities and municipalities, please check out our Circular Economy Guidebook for Cities.

For further questions, please contact Stephan Schaller.