World Resources Forum 2021 - A Green Deal for Sustainable Resources
The World Resources Forum 2021 provided a basis for stakeholders from all backgrounds to share their perspectives on sustainable extraction, use and recovery of natural resources and co-create solutions with the vision of a green deal for sustainable sourcing.
The current economy is based on a linear interaction between production and consumption which extracts natural resources to turn them into disposable products, generating large amounts of waste during and after their lifecycle. Waste has negative impacts on human wellbeing such as toxic effects on health, reduced landscape quality and water and soil pollution, but it is also harmful to ecosystems and biodiversity. Moreover, resources are limited, which makes a linear economy an unsustainable one by definition: a growing production cannot be continuously supported by a finite amount of materials. Thus, truly sustainable consumption and production need to optimise the amount of natural resources extracted which function as inputs for the economy and recover as much of the output, currently disregarded as waste, as possible.
With the lack of strong national law and regulations on e-waste management in Africa, the World Resources Forum 2021 (WRF2021) hosted a 3-Day Programme under the theme of “A Green Deal for Sustainable Resources”. Co-hosted by the Ghanaian Ministry for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) and the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN/BAFU), the WRF2021 event engaged high-profile panelists from WRF, European Commission, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Resource Panel (IRP) to look into the most pressing challenges to effective circular system and co-design sustainable innovative solutions related to the use of resources.
During the event, which took place from October 12th to October 14th, the panelists brought up various aspects of how this methodology can be useful to different stakeholder groups. The event included two live-streamed physical events, one in Accra (Ghana) and other in Zurich (Switzerland), besides numerous online sessions. From the three conference tracks, primary resources, secondary resources and circular economy, there were diverse sessions connected to sustainable lifestyles and education such as:
Circular economy across electronics value chains and E-wastes, which addressed important questions about scaling up circularity, for example 'Can we revert unsustainable behavior patterns?';
The Value-Chain Approach: a tool for prioritised action on sustainable consumption and production, a workshop dedicated to presenting “the Value-Chain Approach” as a methodology to identify leverage points to catalyse actions on sustainable consumption and production, applied to the critical sectors of construction, food and textiles.
Circular economy at cities, national and international scale, which included sector examples for mobility, water and plastics and a closer look at making the circular economy work for human development.
The contribution of WRF21 to the development of a sustainable system of consumption and production goes beyond the topics addressed and consists also of the process used in the event: the orientation towards a multi-stakeholder dialogue regarding the co-creation of fair and inclusive solutions, which do not represent exclusively the views of some developed countries, but the combined perspectives of a Global North-South partnership.
The increased momentum for the green transition is a result of the global attention directed towards the 26th COP UN Climate Change Conference. However, in order to translate this into action, events such as the WRF2021 are required, bringing together all societal stakeholders around a specific topic to develop practical solutions. This holistic approach resulted in an enriching discussion about how a Green Deal can ensure a fair resource extraction, transform outputs from the economic system (waste) into inputs (resources) and develop a system that supports the circular flow of materials.