We have not developed the ultimate guide towards a circular economy in cities!

Few days before the closure of the Public Feedback on draft Action Plans, Håkon Jentoft, presents us the Partnership on Circular Economy, its importance for Oslo the city he represents, and the draft action plan on Circular Economy.


Hello Håkon! Could you present yourself and your institution?

My name is Håkon Jentoft and I am appointed coordinator of the Urban Agenda Partnership on Circular Economy on behalf of the city of Oslo. I work as a senior executive officer at the Agency of Waste Management of the city of Oslo.

I have been working with Waste management for over 30 years and I am deeply passionate about waste related issues in all its forms, and in particularly how to address waste in a circular economy. The past years I have been mainly working with waste on a European level as chair of EUROCITIES working group of waste, bringing in the perspective from the City of Oslo.


Why did your city decide to join your Partnership?

The City of Oslo has ambitions to be internationally leading in our work with waste prevention, re-use and recycling. In 2019, we are appointed European Green Capital and we want to be leading in the transition to a more circular economy.

The Partnership for Circular Economy provides us with a great opportunity to learn more about other cities work on circular economy. In addition, through the Urban Agenda Partnerships cities are given a unique opportunity to contribute to European policy making on the topic.

We know that some of the day-to-day challenges we face within the City of Oslo also is experienced elsewhere. To be able to contribute with the cities perspective on these policy areas could be very rewarding.


What is your Draft Action Plan proposing?

For us it is important to stress that we have not developed the ultimate guide towards a circular economy in cities. We have chosen to focus on some main themes where we both see concrete barriers and we have the right expertise to propose changes. As part of our Partnerships work with the draft Action plan we drafted a short vision of what our work would evolve into.

The actions we present are concrete actions to realize a city where residents and entrepreneurs do not think in terms of waste, but in terms of resources with permanent economic and social value. A city where Urban Resource Centres are social and economic hubs for residents and enterprises to meet each other and collaborate on Circular Resource Management. European legislation entices local authorities, companies and investors to make the most of all types of waste, and also water. The knowledge and experience from other cities is shared with others through an interactive Circular City Portal. Through well-developed European Cohesion Policy post 2020, it is also easier for local authorities to direct funding and investment to circular infrastructure and new knowledge. There are also accessible tools that guide the city through the different funding possibilities and also assist funders that are interesting and directing their funds to investments in the circular transition.

The list of our proposed actions is available on the website of the Urban Agenda. I presented them during a webinar beggining of March. There will also be a second set of actions put forward for public consultation during the summer of 2018. 


How can cities across the EU benefit from your work?

We believe that these actions will provide cities with better tools to make the transition to a circular economy happen more smoothly. Through the work on Better Knowledge we want to gather information in a concentrated platform to make the knowledge that some front runners already possess today, available also for cities with the ambitions to make the change but lack the know-how.

We want to point specifically to the proposed actions on Waste legislation and Water legislation as potentially very impactful for cities. Cities handle and administrate vast amounts of resources every day, in the form of waste or water. Making it easier to re-use and create new resources from these flows does require some changes in current legislation. Our Partnership want to assess the impact of existing legislation and potentially propose setting up a regulatory framework that better fits the requirements of using secondary resources in the context of a circular economy in cities.

We want to stress the need for stakeholders input at this time in the process, to check if our actions are in line with others idea about the barriers and if our solutions could add value to their existing work. Therefore it is crucial that you contribute to the Public Feedback on our draft action.  Each action is published separately and concisely, linked to the Public Feedback that take less than 3 minutes to complete.


Why do you need this input?

We need this input to make sure that we add value to the on-going work with circular economy in cities all over Europe. Circular Economy is a buzzword on everybody’s lips, but our Partnerships success depends on our ability to propose and implement meaningful actions that will make the transition happen on the ground.

Therefore the input all relevant stakeholders are crucial at this point. We are interested to know if you agree with us in our analysis, but more importantly if you disagree with our analysis or proposed actions you need to contact me directly or provide your input through the Public Feedback survey. All feedback will be reviewed and incorporated into the final action plan and this will be shared with you after the closing of the Public Feedback.


What are the main obstacles and common ground you have found among members when defining the actions?

Some of the main obstacles have been to decide where to put our energy. During the process of drafting our first action plan we have written 11 scoping papers, suggested over 30 potential actions and discussed which actions to prioritize according to our set criteria. We had to figure out if we have the expertise, if the actions truly reflect the cities’ needs, the concept of Circular Economy, if it adds value and have the potential for improvement. And last but not least, are these actions feasible and can be realistically implemented?

The Partnership consists of partners at EU, Member State and City level. There are of course differences in what we see to be the main barriers and possible solutions, but I am confident that we have had a good process to ensure that all perspectives were taken into account. Lastly I also want to praise the partners for agreeing on always having the cities’ needs in focus when making our prioritizations.


What should we expect from your Partnership?

The public feedback ends on the 16th of March and we will spend the time after this to revise our action plan based on your feedback. You should expect that we take your comments and suggestions into consideration and that as far as possible follow up on the feedback provided on all actions. After revising the Action plan we will submit it for final approval to the Directorate General for Urban Matters, which hopefully will approve our Action plan on the 20th of April. After this we will put all our efforts into the implementation phase and follow up the second round of actions.

As coordinator I want to stress that by providing input at this stage, your opinions and suggestions have a big chance of getting integrated to our action plan, and therefore the time spent on providing input through the Public Feedback form will be worthwhile.

You will also meet us at relevant events this spring, where I hope that we can discuss our action plan as well. We will be visible both at the EUROCITIES Environmental Forum in Amsterdam in April and EU Green Week in Brussels in May. 


More information on the draft Action Plan and the Public Feedback: