A new OECD vision aims at coordinating and country efforts and foster international co-operation among G20 members


This Policy Guidance, prepared by the OECD at the request of the Italian G20 Presidency, is intended for G20 Leaders, as well as Economic, Finance and Environment Ministries. Based on insights from across the G20 membership, this report presents possible elements of a common G20 policy vision on resource efficiency and the circular economy for different levels of government. It is expected that the vision would help to coordinate and align individual country efforts and foster international co-operation among G20 members.

Key elements:

• National and sub-national action to advance towards a more resource efficient and circular economy.
• Mainstream resource efficiency and circular economy principles into domestic policy.
• Take a phased approach from waste to resource (eg. ensure that hazardous substances in waste are managed in an environmentally sound manner).
• Fully leverage the role of cities in advancing towards a more resource efficient and circular economy (eg; cities have competencies in water supply and sanitation. Cities  can enforce regulation on commercial and residential buildings and operate public buildings to improve water and energy efficiency. Cities also commonly control water management infrastructures and are well placed to increase water efficiency).
• International cooperation and coordination to advance a more resource efficient and circular economy: Support businesses in their value chain management efforts towards improved resource efficiency, Alleviate barriers and investment in environmental goods and services to ensure the diffusion of best available environmental technologies, Harmonize environmental labels and information schemes, Improve data, indicators and accounts on resource efficiency and waste, Mainstream resource efficiency and material recovery into official development assistance more systematically

Other elements related to water:

⇒ Environmental impacts of material use: acidification (water), eutrophication, freshwater toxicity.
⇒ The circular economy is systemic by nature and as such, policy-making requires a holistic approach across all sectors. Almost all the respondents of the OECD survey identified the waste sector as key for the circular economy (98%), followed by the built environment (75%), land use and spatial planning (70%), food and beverages and water and sanitation (65%), amongst others.
⇒ Circular economy strategies and projects in surveyed cities are often based on experimentation and pilots, allowing to test new technologies, foster innovation and raise awareness. For example, in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) the Home of Innovation Demonstration Villa Project explores the construction of a sustainable dwelling leading to a 40% reduction in energy and potable water use (U20, 2020).
⇒ The circular economy can play an important role in reducing energy and water demand of existing buildings.
⇒ The operation phase can include circular solutions for the use of renewable energy and new technologies to improve resource efficiency in buildings. For example, the City of Paris (France) recovers heat from wastewater and uses it for the heating and cooling in public buildings. Paris also developed a network of non-potable water taps for cleaning purposes, to optimise drinking water use.
⇒ The transition to the circular economy requires conducive regulation in key sectors such as water. Identifying available tools (such as specific requirements for land use), environmental permits (e.g. for decentralised water, waste and energy systems) and regulation for pilot projects would clarify potential regulatory uncertainties across different legal entities, gaps and future needs.


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