2021 Climate and Environment

Circular Economy – a Conceptual Review and Analysis of Implications for Swedish Development Cooperation

Ida Andersson, Daniel Slunge, Thomas Sterner, Petter Wikström

Circular economy is increasingly discussed in Swedish, European, and international public policy making. This report provides a review of the circular economy concept and discusses its potential implications for Swedish development cooperation.

Main findings

  1. Circular economy plays an increasingly important role in development cooperation. Especially the focus on circular economy in the new EU development cooperation strategy for 2021–2027 and priorities in the new NDICI instrument will be important for Sweden and other member states as a coordinated “Team Europe” approach is promoted.
  2. The study finds that few Swedish contributions have so far been explicitly labelled as circular economy initiatives, but that many existing Swedish contributions are highly relevant for addressing real “circular economy issues” and a broader green transition. Notably, Sweden is an important financier of several international organisations and networks influencing global policy discussion on green and circular economy.
  3. If not managed carefully, European circular economy policies can incentivize export of secondary materials and products that can only be recycled at high environmental and social costs to countries with less stringent environmental standards and technological capacity.

Report authors:

Daniel Slunge, PhD, is a researcher in environmental economics at the Environment for Development Initiative, University of Gothenburg.

Ida Andersson, MSc, is a research assistant in chemical risk management and environmental economics at the FRAM Centre for Future chemical Risk Assessment and Management, University of Gothenburg.

Petter Wikström, MSc, is a research assistant in environmental economics at the University of Gothenburg.

Thomas Sterner is a Professor of environmental economics at the University of Gothenburg.