As Programme Partner of the World Resources Forum 2021, the EU SWITCH To Green Facility–on behalf of the European Commission Directorate General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA) and in coordination with the Directorate General for Environment (DG ENV)–will organise and host a workshop titled “Circular economy policy and business solutions to e-waste challenges in Africa”. In this short article, the team at the EU SWITCH To Green Facility, led by Mr. Alexander Charalambous, tells us more about the context behind the workshop, what the workshop will be about and why you should attend it. This session will be part of the Circular Economy conference track.



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The circular economy has already for some time appeared prominently in the EU agenda. Could you tell us a bit more about the key EU objectives in this area and what are the role and activities of the SWITCH To Green Facility?

A circular economy is at the heart of EU’s growth policy, the European Green Deal. Through related thematic policy strategies and plans, notably the EU Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP), the EU has communicated its high ambition to lead a global process towards a just transition to a climate-neutral, resource-efficient and circular economy, stressing both the need to dematerialise the economy, reduce dependence on primary materials and secure access to resources for resilient supply chains (Critical Raw Materials Action Plan), and the importance of a transition that works for people, including through job creation.

The EU CEAP is the blueprint and compass guiding relevant EU actions such as the the global programme SWITCH to Circular Economy Value Chains or the regional programme SWITCH Africa Green. Both SWITCH programmes exemplify the international dimension of the new EU CEAP, and support partnerships increasing circularity.

The SWITCH to Green Facility (managed by the European Commission Directorate General for International Partnerships – DG INTPA) promotes the circular economy transition in partner countries and across the 17 SDGs, supporting targeted EU actions and integrating CE in a wide range of cooperation areas including the private sector, trade and investments, TVET, cities, food systems, as well as environmental sectors such as biodiversity, forests and water. Relevant indicative activities of the Facility include the provision of support to the Colombian Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development for the implementation of Colombia’s National Circular Economy Strategy, the elaboration of a set of guidance tools like DG INTPA’s green / circular economy indicators, and the mapping of EU Inclusive Green Economy projects. Relevant support is channelled through Commission services, EU Delegations, and development partners.

What will the workshop be about and what goals does it have?

E-waste is an increasing challenge, interlinked to the growth of the information and communication technology industry. Since 2014, the global generation of e-waste has increased by 9.2 million metric tonnes (21%). In electronics, there are significant Circular Economy solutions for improved electronic waste management (The Global E-waste Monitor, 2020).

The workshop “Circular economy policy and business solutions to e-waste challenges in Africa” will discuss key challenges  and solutions to e-waste management. It will highlight approaches that transform the e-waste challenges into opportunities, touching on issues enabling an environmentally sound e-waste management, such as the adoption of legislation limiting the amount of e-waste, the encouragement of private sector engagement in extended producer responsibility and ownership (EPR and EPO) schemes, and the establishment of proper recycling and collection mechanism and facilities. The discussion aims at facilitating the sharing of good practice in e-waste management. Speakers from the policy arena, the private sector and financial institutions are expected to provide recommendations in attracting investment for e-waste recycling across Africa, including through effective e-waste policy design and implementation.

What excites you about being a program partner of WRF2021?

By 2050, people are set to consume an estimated 140 billion tons of natural resources like minerals, ores, fossil fuels and biomass per year, compared to 60 billion tons in 2005 (IRP, 2011). Today, over 100 billion tonnes of these resources enter the global economy annually, with only 8.6% of them being actually re-used (Circle Economy, 2020). Numbers leave no doubt about the economic inefficiency of the linear resource use model, yet the wastage of valuable resources continues to prevail.

With resource productivity and circular economy, the WRF 2021 conference addresses a core issue of our time. The workshop discussions will highlight how a Green Deal can build and support a case for circular resource use in the e-waste sector. The conference offers opportunities to bring together African and European perspectives to shape a circular economy in the field of ICT.

Why should participants attend the workshop and for whom would it be particularly interesting to attend? 

This session welcomes policy makers and practitioners interested in the circular economy, from across the globe. It is an excellent opportunity to interact with government and business leaders, programme managers and experts united by a shared objective to reduce e-waste and establish a circular economy.

Attending this session, you will:

  • Get into what considerations are important when establishing e-waste collection mechanisms;
  • Learn about new opportunities to engage the private sector in circular e-waste processes, including by formalising informal e-waste businesses; and
  • Understand what makes a sound policy and action plan to increase circularity in the ICT sector

We therefore encourage attendance from policy makers from across the globe, private sector experts and business developers, programme developers and managers, waste managers, and training institutions and civil society. Join us in October 2021 for an exciting discussion about how to tackle e-waste!

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The World Resources Forum 2021 (WRF2021), under the theme of “A Green Deal for Sustainable Resources” will take place on October 12-14 in an innovative hybrid format: three days of online sessions and two small scale-events in Accra (Ghana) and Zürich (Switzerland). All the workshops, such as the one organised by the Green Industry Platform, together with scientific sessions and plenary sessions will take place online, in a dedicated virtual event platform. WRF2021 is co-hosted by the Ghanaian Ministry for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) and the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN/BAFU).

Don’t miss the opportunity to be part of this exciting session and learn from all the participants.

Register now for WRF2021!