On Friday, February 23rd, The Cyprus Institute organized the 2018 Hubert Curien Memorial Lecture entitled “Economy Transition and the Role of the Circular Economy”. The speaker was the distinguished economist Dr Janez Potočnik, Former EU Commissioner for the Environment and Member of The Cyprus Institute Board of Trustees.
In his talk, Dr Potočnik presented the current state of the world’s economy and the dangers from continuing to rely on the current economic model, in view of the growing number of challenges. For the first time in a human history we face emergence of a single, tightly coupled human social-ecological system of planetary scope, and an agreement on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is the first important step in the direction required, even though trade-offs among various SDGs will be unavoidable. According to Dr Potočnik, transition to a new economic model that integrates all pillars of sustainability, should be at the centre of our attention and Sustainable Consumption and Production is the most efficient strategy to avoid these trade-offs and to create synergies. Circular economy is a very good concept, an instrument, to operationalise this in practice.
Dr Potočnik stresses that implementing SDGs should be a priority for any government, and should be defined in the strategic documents, supported by indicators, monitoring, reporting, and linked to the core economic policy decisions. All economic policies should be systematically adjusted and synergies among various policy approches (climate change, biodiversity loss, resource management, etc) should be exploited. It is important that all levels (global, European, national, local) and all stakeholders (public and private actors, financial sector, civil society, academia) should actively participate in this system change, and active dialogue with potential losers is necessary to make transition fair and possible.
“Change will not appear by waiting for the leadership of others, you should be the leaders at your level of governance and authority - in politics, in business, in making your investment decisions” said Dr Potočnik. “If we are to avoid globally extensive and inter-systemic crisis and frequent conflicts”, he continued, “than let’s get serious about implementing what we have agreed in SDGs. Changes are unavoidable and humans are supposed to be intelligent. It is high time to prove it.”
Dr Janez Potočnik served as EU Commissioner for Science and Research from 2004 to 2010, and the EU Commissioner for the Environment from 2010 to 2014. He is currently Co-Chair of the International Resource Panel hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme, and since 2016, he is Partner in SYSTEMIQ, and a Member of the Board of Trustees of The Cyprus Institute.
The distinguished Hubert Curien Memorial Lecture Series was established by The Cyprus Institute in honor of the late Prof. Hubert Curien, one of the most influential scientists and science policy makers of the 20th century. Prof. Curien served as Founding Chair of the Institute’s International Council and as a Member of its Board of Trustees. Past speakers include Nobel Prize Laureates, internationally renowned academics, politicians and businessmen, addressing diverse issues of global significance.
Download the presentation (pdf, 5.5MB)