SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

SPRU co-hosts conference on the circular economy

Working alongside the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), SPRU co-hosted the Third International Conference of the Global Research Forum (GRF) on Sustainable Production and Consumption, on 27 – 29 June 2017.

Titled 'Sustainable Lifestyles, Livelihoods and the Circular Economy', the conference explored paths to sustainable production and consumption through the synergies and tensions among the circular economy, sustainable lifestyles and livelihoods, and their implications for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It convened stakeholders from multiple domains – researchers, development practitioners, policymakers and representatives from business, government and civil society – to address some of the key questions and debates.

Premised on the recognition that linear economies are unsustainable on a finite planet, the concept of a circular economy proposes a restorative and regenerative economic system, using renewable resources, optimizing resource use and recovery, and supporting sustainable livelihoods and lifestyles.

The opening keynote – given by Janez Poto─Źnik (former EU Environment Commissioner, Co-Chair of the International Resource Panel) – was broadcast live by IDS, and is now available to watch again online:

Video and presentation recordings of the Day 2 plenary sessions are also available:

Professor Tim Foxon was a key member of the conference organising committee and - alongside other SPRU colleagues - was involved in a range of sessions across the three-day event:

  • Avoiding linear lock-in: what are the challenges and opportunities for developing countries in creating circular rather than linear infrastructure and institutions? Tim Foxon
  • Sustainable lifestyles, wellbeing and health in Chinese cities. Adrian Ely
  • Circular economy in cities - between city branding and civil society innovation. Chiara Fratini
  • The role of placemaking and infrastructure in the circular economy. Ralitsa Hiteva and Cian O’Donovan
  • Boundaries of the circular economy—the reach and limits of models of circular economy. Tim Foxon
  • Critiquing and extending the CE frame: epistemological and ontological questions. Chiara Fratini

The conference was co-organised by Tearfund UKSWITCH-Asia ProgrammeSCORAI EuropeCollaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP)Aalborg University and the MORE SL program under the 10 Year Framework Programme on Sustainable Lifestyles and Education. Contributing partners included Earth System Governance ProjectWorld Resources ForumFuture Earth Knowledge-Action Network on Systems of Sustainable Consumption and  Production

As a transformative business and policy strategy for sustainable development, the circular economy is gaining traction in both the industrialized and developing world. Evidence of this rising interest is seen in the European Union’s Circular Economy Strategy Plan, China’s active implementation of a Circular Economy Law, and in the activities of institutions like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Further information

View the full 'Sustainable Lifestyles, Livelihoods and the Circular Economy' conference programme

View the conference photo album, created by the IDS communications team.