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In Valladolid, Spain, the transition to a circular economy is an opportunity for greater attractiveness and competitiveness, while also responding to environmental challenges. In the face of a shrinking and ageing population, combined with significant unemployment (11% in 2018) Valladolid has prioritised the circular economy in the city’s strategy to create jobs and stimulate innovation. The city aims to become sustainable city of reference through concrete measures, such as reducing waste, lowering the use of raw materials, increasing the use of renewable energy, while stimulating economic growth and social well-being.

Valladolid was one of the first cities to sign to the Declaration of Seville in March 2017 as a follow-up to the “Call to Cities for the Circular Economy” launched in Paris in 2015 during COP 21. Alongside 300 Spanish municipalities, it committed to strengthen the role of local governments in the circular transition by developing local strategies on zero landfill, recycling (especially bio-waste), waste prevention (particularly food waste), eco-design, and public procurement of green products.

Those declarations of intentions have translated into tangible actions. In 2017 and 2018, the municipality launched two calls for projects to finance circular economy initiatives to stimulate local businesses and entrepreneurial activities and raise awareness. The resulting 61 projects received one million euros, which stimulated more applications in the 2019 edition. In follow-up, the Agency of Innovation and Economic Development developed a “Circular Economy Roadmap” for the city, co-organised “Circular Weekends” for networking, and set up a “Circular Lab” to promote an entrepreneurial culture on the circular economy. All these activities helped create a dynamic community of entrepreneurs, micro and small businesses, and civil society acting as ambassadors for the circular economy in Valladolid. Through concrete initiatives related to new business models, eco-design, certifications for circular economy-related industrial processes, platforms connecting supply and demand of secondary material, this community is showing that the transition from a linear to a circular economy is possible and real.

Going forward, moving from an “experimental phase” to a full-fledge transition towards the circular economy will require overcoming a number of challenges:

  • Fostering policy coherence, integration and long-term vision of existing circular economy-related initiatives to avoid isolated and small-scale actions and maximise synergies across municipal departments and cross-fertilisation;

  • Scaling-up the projects after the experimentation phase to ensure that projects currently carried out at neighbourhood or individual scale can deliver the expected social, economic and environmental outcomes;

  • Upgrading the skills of authorities to support their capacity to cope with the complexity of the circular economy. Given the multi-disciplinary nature of the circular economy, the municipality should assess whether the needs of the circular economy transition matches the skills and human resources available within municipality departments and take action to bridge identified gaps;

  • Improving the data, knowledge and information base on the circular economy to generate understanding and awareness of companies and citizens on the potential benefits of the circular economy. This could also facilitate stakeholder engagement, monitoring and evaluation for greater trust and accountability.

The report recommends concrete actions to improve Valladolid’s ability to promote, facilitate and enable the circular economy. In particular:

  • To promote the circular economy, the municipality could:

    • identify priorities based on the analysis of material flows and production and consumption trends;

    • develop a circular economy strategy with clear vision and objectives, while accounting for opportunities for job creation;

    • lead by example through applying circular principles in the municipality’s activities and services;

    • strengthen the circular community, creating spaces for meetings and dialogues, and;

    • raise awareness on the circular economy by showing successful business cases and making circular products and services recognisable through labels, which could be also an incentive for local business.

  • To facilitate collaboration among a wide range of actors to make the circular economy happen on the ground, the municipality could

    • coordinate with national and regional circular economy strategies;

    • foster collaborations across universities, business, and citizens, and exchange experiences with neighbouring cities;

    • support business development and stimulate entrepreneurship in the circular economy.

  • To enable the necessary governance and economic conditions, the municipality could:

    • identify the regulatory, fiscal and economic tools incentivising the circular economy and develop capacity building tools for municipal personnel and entrepreneurs;

    • strengthen the role of the Agency of Innovation and Economic Development as a municipal focal point and facilitator;

    • implement green public procurement initiatives;

    • facilitate the sharing of tools and initiatives among neighbours for small-scale initiatives as a step for local change, and identify areas for experimentation;

    • strengthen the effectiveness of the municipal grants related to the circular economy, and;

    • develop a monitoring and evaluation framework with specific indicators on the circular economy to analyse progress and results.


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