Slovenia's creative innovators contributing to Europe's sustainable development at EU's flagship circular economy conference, chaired by Ladeja Godina Košir


Slovenia's creative innovators contributing to Europe's sustainable development at EU's flagship circular economy conference, chaired by Ladeja Godina Košir

On the 6th and 7th of March, Ladeja Godina Košir, Chair of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform (ECESP), welcomed over 900 participants from more than 50 countries in Europe and beyond to the flagship EU conference on the circular economy in Brussels. This 2-day event, hosted jointly by the European Commission and European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), provided motivated stakeholders from across Europe with an opportunity to share their success stories and collaboratively discuss new challenges in supporting the transition towards green growth.

On the 6th of March 2019, high-level EU representatives such as First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans and President of the European Economic and Social Committee Luca Jahier underlined the EU's political mobilisation for a circular economy. Strengthened by supportive comments by other EU luminaries such as Commissioners Bienkowska and Vella, their commitment show the Commission's 2019 circular economy package and the implementation of 54 actions outlined in the 2015 action plan "Closing the Loop" are just a first step. Circular thinking is clearly becoming the framework for industrial renewal, which the EU will follow up on with policies for sustainable development to achieve Agenda 2030 and the corresponding SDGs.


While their comments were met by enthusiasm from conference participants, there is a general consensus that more needs to be done. Cillian Lohan, member of the EESC indicated: "… it is changes in business practices, supported by policy changes and policy infrastructure that will actually create the environment where consumers have the affordable and accessible options that will allow them to make circular, sustainable choices". Among others, Vice-President Katainen also shared the view that "Europe has taken the lead in transitioning towards a circular economy, partially thanks to social innovations such as the ECESP, but a lot more needs to be done to educate and shape a circular culture"

Slovenia's key role in this transition was highly visible at the 2019 stakeholder conference: several speakers referenced the country as a frontrunner because of its May 2018 Roadmap toward a Circular Economy in Slovenia, and Circular Change's Ladeja Godina Košir has delivered on stakeholder engagement for the circular economy and Europe.

Over the past few years, Slovenian design has carved out a niche for its sustainable principles as well with designers such as Lara Bohinc and Matea Benedetti. Circular Change linked this green mindset in Slovenia's creative industries to the circular economy at this conference by organising a workshop about Creative Innovation for a Circular Economy on Day 2 (7 March 2019), in preparation for which the foundation held a design competition that enabled 3 innovative Slovene designers to present their products to an European audience. This competition formed part of our Creative & Circular project, which aims to integrate circular design thinking in Slovenia's creative industries to stimulate a cultural shift from the linear consumption of products towards a circular economy of services and do so by supporting promising architectural, design and craftsmanship projects with capacity building towards entering the market and commercial internationalisation.

By participating in this workshop, Floios, a start-up by Tina Košak Koren, crafting unique silver jewelry from discarded electronic goods; Collodi, a chair produced using recycled materials by Donar, represented by Matej Feguš; and paper + bioplastics by designer Eva Garibaldi, an educational project teaching consumers the value of materials and their sourcing, opened their projects to input from participants. After learning the potential of Ellen MacArthur foundation's Circular Design Guide as a guide for development, these designers were given the chance to present their business challenges and discuss them with the participants. The keynote speaker of the workshop was Douwe Jan Joustra, the Director of the C&A Foundaiton’s Fashion for Good initiative.

Through participation in conferences such as this one and by having a leading role in Europe's circular economy platform, Circular Change is helping Slovenia become the cradle of a circular culture in Europe, where innovative designs and motivated entrepreneurs are developing the products and business models the EU needs for its sustainable development. The Creative & Circular project, part-financed by EU cohesion funding, will continue to contribute this in the coming months: assessing entries to the Balkan Design Competition, focused on circular designs this year; and the exhibition of project award winners at the Museum of Architecture & Design with a final presentation at the upcoming Circular Change conference in Maribor on May 16 – 17.

More info on the ECESP:

·        Platform website

·        Brochure about the platform

Circular Change