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The role of low- and middle-income countries in the circular economy transition of the Netherlands and the EU

06-12-2021

Nadia Ashraf and Jeske van Seters, ECDPM brief, December 2021

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In the Netherlands and the EU, there is an ambition to move towards a more circular system. Such a transition affects Dutch or European businesses, consumers and citizens, but also countries outside of Europe. These include low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), which, as important manufacturing hubs and resource-based economies, are potential suppliers of circular products and ‘green’ raw materials. They can also provide a market for recyclable and reusable materials generated in the EU.

This paper presents the perspectives of public, private and civil society actors on the roles LMICs can play in the circular economy transition of the Netherlands and the EU. It explores their views on the opportunities and challenges for LMICs, and how these should be reflected in the circular economy strategies of the Netherlands and the EU.

The paper highlights that a circular economy transition in the Netherlands and the EU will have significant implications for LMICs which merit to be considered more seriously. There are several steps the Netherlands and the EU can take to reflect these in their circular economy strategies. These include:

  • promoting the development and harmonisation of circular economy standards, and making sure LMICs are included in these processes;
  • making more use of trade policy measures, such as trade agreements and the unilateral Generalised System of Preferences, for a circular economy transition in global value chains;
  • supporting LMICs through development cooperation and trade and investment promotion tools to seize circular economy-related trade opportunities and mitigate negative spillover effects resulting from a transition.

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Photo courtesy of Markus Winkler via Unsplash

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Comments

Karel UYTTENDAELE

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2021-12-09 21:31:28

As African LMICs suffer from a severe lack of manufacturing hubs there is no reason for negative spill over effects of the EU circular economy in Europe. “Jobs”, that is what Africa is concerned about and what Europe should be concerned about. Africa wants to transform locally its natural resources and create 30 million jobs per year. Africa is blessed with the largest reserves of eternally renewable hydro-solar energy sources. Relocation of energy-intensive industries to regions with an abundance of renewables eliminates 25% of global carbon emissions. In Africa, this action will mark the start of a labour-intensive, non-smokestack, manufacturing industry by relying on cheap solar electricity and the local processing of natural resources in the short chain. It prevents forced migration and extreme ideologies and conflicts. More: Africa, the solution, not a victim of climate change. https://economie-circulaire-du-savoir-faire.jouwweb.nl/africa-solution-not-victim-climate

Private sector engagementThe Netherlands