15 April 2021

Working towards Circular Economy Will Also Advance Climate Action, Deputy Secretary-General Tells International Forum

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the World Circular Economy Forum + Climate event today:

I thank the Government of the Netherlands and the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra for organizing this timely discussion.

The world’s production and consumption patterns are unsustainable and are at the root of today’s triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.  The impacts fall most heavily on the poorest and most vulnerable members of the human family.

Every year, 400 million tons of heavy metals, toxic sludge and other industrial waste are dumped into the world’s waters.  Every year, food loss and waste account for $950 billion in lost value — on top of the incalculable costs of hunger and starvation.  The oceans are overfished — and overflowing with plastics pollution.  And the mountains of waste keep growing higher and higher.

Against this backdrop, we need far more concerted steps to build a circular economy to put us on track to achieve the 2030 Agenda and net-zero emissions by 2050.  Governments, businesses and consumers should recognize this as an opportunity, not a burden.  In that spirit, three steps are essential.

First, I call on Governments to incorporate a circular economy approach in their domestic legislation and development plans.  By designing out waste, avoiding pollution and keeping materials in use as long as possible, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 20 per cent.

Second, we must ensure a just transition to a circular economy to avoid deepening the inequalities of linear extractive models, and to protect livelihoods through new technologies and jobs automation.

Third, I call on business in resource-intensive sectors, such as plastics, food systems, textiles, mobility, technology and the built environment, to design for circularity and shift to circular business models.

Working towards a circular economy will also advance climate action and our efforts across the Sustainable Development Goals.  Let’s make this happen, together.

I thank you and look forward to our discussion.

For information media. Not an official record.