A success story on regional policy changes towards circular economy was presented at the Interreg Europe program’s “Europe, let’s cooperate!” event in Brussels 10th April 2019. One of the thematic sessions focused on how the regional circular economy roadmap of Päijät-Häme region in Finland inspired the Nitra region in Slovakia in updating their regional policy instrument.

The transition towards a circular and resource efficient economy requires strategic thinking and planning at all levels. A policy framework for this transition has been set at European level, e.g. “Closing the loop: An EU Action Plan for a Circular Economy (2015)”, and the EU waste policy including the new Plastics Strategy (2018). EU and national circular economy targets can become instrumental only through translating them into regional actions.

Thematic session about circular economy at the “Europe, let’s cooperate!” event in Brussels 10th April 2019. Photo: Apostolos Malamakis

Päijät-Häme Circular Economy Roadmap inspiring Slovak region 

 Päijät-Häme Circular Economy Roadmap was presented by Maarit Virtanen from the Regional Council of Päijät-Häme. The regional roadmap has been recognized as good practice within the Interreg Europe project BIOREGIO

The circular economy roadmap process example is an excellent illustration of a working multi-level governance approach and the ongoing involvement of concerned actors. Furthermore, the Circular Economy roadmap is linked to, for example, the City of Lahti Circular Economy Roadmap and Päijät-Häme Climate Action Roadmap.  

 The Finnish roadmap inspired the improvement of a financial instrument in Nitra Self-Governing Region, Slovakia. Eleonora Marisova and Martin Maris from the Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra explained how the roadmap had risen immediate interest in the Office of the Nitra Self-Governing Region. The Finnish example motivated Nitra region to improve the Programme of the Economic and Social Development and to introduce new sub-activities into it. The main inspiration of the Finnish roadmap was related to applying circular economy at the regional level and deepening the cooperation with the regional stakeholders. 

Insights from the regional-interregional cooperation in Päijät-Häme

BIOREGIO project is twinned together with regional circular economy projects in Päijät-Häme and influences and shares their results on an international level. Many European regions have a circular economy in focus. According to a poll at Europe Let’s Cooperate event 10th April, several regions are in the process of drafting a regional roadmap or planning one. In addition, most of them found the Finnish experience useful.

The Päijät-Häme circular economy roadmap process is an example of how to utilise a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) project in providing content to the development and to concretise the regional strategy with a bottom-up approach. Furthermore, the roadmap approach is not only applicable to a circular economy. It can also be used in concretising other strategic goals.

Written by Maarit Virtanen who is an Energy and Climate Specialist at the Regional Council of Päijät-Häme, and Susanna Vanhamäki who works as an RDI specialist at LAMK and is the project manager of the BIOREGIO project.

This article was originally published in the LAMKgreen blog on 25.04.2019: blogit.lamk.fi/lamkgreen/en/european-regions-taking-the-circular-economy-road/


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