ICLEI and Turku kick-start partnership to design a blueprint for regional circularity

The city of Turku and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability have launched a partnership to design a regional Resource Wisdom Roadmap with the support of the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra.

The rationale behind resource wisdom

Resource wisdom is an operating model developed by Sitra to support cities and municipalities in making their activities carbon neutral and waste free, while bringing their use of natural resources within ecosystems boundaries by 2050 at the latest. The framework was piloted in 2015 with members of the Network of Finnish Sustainable Cities, including Turku and a resource wisdom roadmap was created for the city.

The city of Turku is now eager to expand this roadmap to the surrounding region, thereby combining the city’s “ambitious carbon neutrality targets with resource efficiency and circular economy” says Mayor Minna Arve.

Published in 2016 by Sitra, the Finnish Roadmap to a Circular Economy identifies cities and regions as pivotal actors of the transition. Numerous efforts are already underway in the Turku region to support the national roadmap. As Marleena Ahonen, Circular Economy specialist at Sitra, puts it “the City of Turku has done a great job in accelerating the transition by activating regional operators to promote a circular economy.”

A practical approach to circularity

Through the partnership, the City of Turku and ICLEI will draw from experiences at the local, regional and national level to identify priority areas for action and policy interventions that contribute to the triple objective of carbon neutrality, zero waste and a low ecological footprint.

For Gino Van Begin, Secretary General of ICLEI, this triple objective resonates well with the ambitions of ICLEI’s Circular Development Program. “ICLEI supports local governments in shifting away from resource-intense development models and their associated impacts by offering practical tools and guidance tailored to local needs. We look forward to supporting the design of a collaborative and inclusive roadmap towards resource wisdom in the Turku region and to gain learnings that will benefit local governments around the world.”

Both the city of Turku and ICLEI envision their partnership as an opportunity to design a practice-oriented framework for other local governments to operationalize the circular economy. “We aim at a scalable blueprint that promotes regional circularity with a clear set of tools and strong stakeholder commitment.” says Mayor Arve.

Local action and global scope

As a member of ICLEI’s Green Circular Cities Coalition, the city of Turku benefits from targeted technical support and peer-exchange opportunities with other coalition members, such as Bonn (Germany), Yokohama and Nagano Prefecture (Japan) as well as Datong and Changchun (China). Recently launched during the Shenzhen Low Carbon City Forum, ICLEI’s Green Circular Cities Coalition provides a platform to connect cities, experts, businesses, and other relevant stakeholders to foster urban circular economy transitions through knowledge and experience exchange, mutual learning, and technical support.
Given the regional scope of the resource wisdom roadmap, a particular focus will be placed on exchanges between the city of Turku and Japanese coalition members with the aim of identifying how the framework of the Regional and Circular Ecological Sphere, introduced by the Government of Japan, translates to the local level.

Deputy Mayor Jarkko Virtanen presenting the city of Turku’s circular economy efforts the launch of the GCCC at the Shenzhen Low Carbon City Forum © Yvonne Yang

Other members of the Green Circular Cities Coalition will also benefit from Finnish circular economy success stories and experience, thus “helping cities worldwide to become circular and reach carbon-neutrality targets” concludes Marleena Ahonen.