Brussels Capital Region, Belgium
The circular economy is providing an innovative and sustainable way for the Brussels-Capital Region to address environmental, social and economic challenges.
The Brussels-Capital Region has developed a coherent vision and multi-stakeholder programme to guide and accelerate its transition to a circular economy model. Through 111 measures it aims to turn environmental objectives into economic opportunities that will optimise the use of resources, create new jobs and add value for local people. The government is highly motivated to position the city as a leader in sustainability, however, given its dependence on material flows from outside the region, moving to a circular economy is vital to achieve this goal. The government has put the environment at the centre of its 10-year vision for revitalising the economy. It has identified this as the area with the greatest potential for generating new economic activity and the jobs needed to reduce its high unemployment rate.
Originally published by EUROCITIES, the network of 130 European cities - PDF: http://nws.eurocities.eu/MediaShell/media/cooperation_Brussels.pdf
This project was shortlisted for the 'EUROCITIES Awards' in 2017 in the following category: Cooperation. Learn more about the award.
Background and objectives
The Brussels-Capital Region covers an area of 161.38 sq km with a population of more than one million inhabitants. In its 2025 strategy adopted on 16 June 2015, the Brussels government set out the goal of revitalising the economy with a 10-year plan. The environment is identified as area that brings jobs, in connection with the development of a regional programme for the circular economy. After several seminars, working groups and public meetings, the Regional Programme on the Circular Economy, was adopted by the Government on 10 March 2016.
- to transform environmental objectives into economic opportunities
- to anchor economic activities within Brussels' borders, maximising resource circularity and boosting entrepreneurship
- to create new employment opportunities
The Brussels regional programme for implementing a circular economy is an integrated strategy involving 111 measures aimed at delivering circular patterns at the city level. The different measures are divided into four areas and a set of specific targets and indicators have been developed for each of the planned measures.
- Cross-functional measures are concerned with creating a favourable regulatory framework.
- Sector-based measures target construction, resources and waste logistics, trade and food sectors.
- Territorial measures integrate the circular economy at the local level.
- Governance measures support the programme by strengthening coordination between authorities.
Financing and resources
Results and impacts
- A call for projects 'Be circular' was launched with the aim to guide and support companies towards the development of circular business models.
- The Urban Renovation Contract was launched as a financing programme with a budget of €110 million to stimulate pilot projects that employ the circular economy approach at local level.
- 'Village Finance', a support organisation that provides grants for sustainable entrepreneurship, was established.
- Two different pilot projects, MODULL 2.0 and BRIC, launched to develop training modules for workers in the construction sector and inform them on circular economy practices.
- The Greenbizz incubator was established to provide companies and start-ups with an area of 8,000 sq metres that includes facilities and services to develop their circular sustainable projects.
- The research study, Brussels Circular Economy Transition (BUCETRA) was financed by Innoviris to analyse the economic and environmental potential of the waste streams for a transition towards a circular materials management in Brussels capital region.
- A platform was created to identify, prioritise and resolve technical and administrative barriers that block the transition to a circular economy. In this platform, the private sector plays a key role.
Barriers and challenges
The Brussels-Capital Region is facing environmental, social and economic challenges similar to those of other European urban regions. Despite the city's role as an important and dynamic economic centre, the unemployment rate is high. The city is highly dependent on material flows from outside the region. It functions mainly as a linear economy, producing large amounts of waste, and must fight pollution and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Lessons learned and transferability
- the establishment of a collaborative bottom-up approach aimed at creating a resource efficient vision for the city is key. In Brussels, this was achieved through preliminary seminars, bilateral meetings with public and private stakeholders and by fully integrating stakeholders in the practical implementation and evaluation of the process and actions through steering groups.
- ensuring a combination of both transversal and sectoral measures, as well as territorial and governance procedures. An integrated approach can only be possible if different stakeholders are involved in the implementation of the measures. The 111 measures are being implemented through approximately 60 pilot programmes. Each pilot typically involves 2 or 3 stakeholders, both public and private as well as the construction federation, for the practical implementation and follow-up of the measure.
- promoting new forms of regional collaborative and social economies can be a way to encourage mindset changes not only among stakeholders but also in the wider community.
- Cities in action - Brussels circular economy programme, Regional programme defines and drives action for change - Eurocities, November 2017: http://nws.eurocities.eu/MediaShell/media/cooperation_Brussels.pdf
- Brussels Regional Programme for a Circular Economy: http://eurocities2017.eu/files/uploads/files/Brussels_BRPCE_Circular%20economy%20case%20study.pdf