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EIT Climate-KIC enables policymakers in LATAM to drive circular economy transition

EIT Climate-KIC partnered with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Latin American Network of Innovation Agencies (RELAI) to support policymakers from 14 institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean to drive the circular economy transition. 

The circular economy has gained traction in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) in recent years. According to studies published by CHATHAM HOUSE and UNIDO, as well as on-going research by the IDB, several LAC nations are implementing circular economic (CE) policies and initiatives, yet few are integrating science, technology, and innovation (STI) for a comprehensive circular shift. The pandemic emphasised the limitations of linear economies, underscoring the need for circular systems that cut waste and enhance resilience.

Recognising the need to transition to a circular economy, EIT Climate-KIC teamed up with the IDB to devise a comprehensive training programme for RELAI, titled “How to Drive the Transition to the Circular Economy through Science, Technology, and Innovation Policies.” The programme spanned 12 weeks, unfolding virtually between April and July 2023, and aimed to enhance participants’ understanding of circular economy principles, hone their policy design competencies, and offer practical experiences in implementing STI interventions for circular economy development.

Dr Vanderleia Radaelli, Coordinator of RELAI and Lead Specialist at IDB, emphasises the agencies’ role as catalysts for change, steering LAC towards sustainability: “Thanks to RELAI, a space for collaboration and knowledge exchange between innovation agencies in Latin America, we can make progress in such a relevant agenda for the countries of the region, overcoming challenges on our way to a more circular economy. Sharing best practices, learning together and promoting effective policies are fundamental aspects to achieve a successful transition.”

Targeting policymakers and stakeholders from RELAI’s 14 member institutions, the training addressed research and innovation challenges, transformative policy-shaping, and collaborative programming – bringing together experts and practitioners to share their practical experience and learn from each other. The emphasis on innovation was reinforced by the participation of experts from the European Commission, Chatham House, UNIDO, SITRA, OCDE and the Ministry of Public Administration of the Slovenian Government, among others.

Dr Matteo Grazzi, Senior Specialist at IDB, underscores the course’s significance in blending existing and new knowledge for policymaking: “Driving the transition to the circular economy requires a combination of existing and new knowledge and skills for policy making. This course was created to address that need and we are very proud of the results of this partnership between the IDB and EIT Climate-KIC.”

Participant testimonials emphasise the programme’s positive impact, praising the commitment to implementation and knowledge sharing. Sandra Patricia Villalobos Tovar, from Innpulsa in Colombia, notes, “I was positively surprised by the commitment of everyone, the knowledge generated during the course and the real concern to implement what was learned through the agencies and entities. Also, the possibility to create a network with the participants.”

EIT Climate-KIC’s partnership with IDB aligns with its strategy to engage governmental and international organisations in catalysing systemic change. Dr Fernando Díaz López, Director of Transitions Hub at EIT Climate-KIC and the course’s director expresses gratitude for the partnership’s trust and emphasises a transformative, collaborative approach to circular economy implementation: “There are many lessons, but perhaps one of the most important has been to adopt a vision of a circular economy based on an approach of eco-innovative solutions to generate environmental, social and economic value, where the systemic and transformative vision, coupled with collaboration and joint programming, make it possible to implement achievable and feasible programmes in the short term,”

Díaz López adds that from EIT Climate-KIC “we will follow with great interest the prompt implementation of the different programmes that each RELAI agency plans to put into practice in the coming months.”


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