Sino-European Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency
1. To develop new indicators for measuring the circular economy/resource efficiency; <br />2. To develop new quantitative tools based on multi-scale modelling approaches, i.e. from the urban to the global scale, enabling policymakers and researchers to explore the macro-economic implications of different scenarios of resource efficiency; <br />3. To understand the drivers and barriers to innovation that enables greater resource efficiency, and the policy frameworks that are best suited to facilitating the development of innovation for resource efficiency; <br />4. To understand historical influence of circular economy and resource efficiency on economic performance, the role of trade (particularly between China and Europe) in stimulating or inhibiting resource efficiency, innovation and patenting activities and industrial structure; <br />5. To bring greater clarity to the concepts of circular economy and resource efficiency, and how they related to concept as diverse as sustainable development, Green economy, steady-state economy, low carbon development and many others. <br />6. To build collaborative working relationships between the institutions, building on each partner's strength and network to develop a very integrated workplan where Chinese and European partners collaborate in each single work package with shared tasks and joint production of shared deliverables which will constitute the building block on which future collaborations can be established.
Academic research on resource efficiency and circular economy is hampered by several important constraints, which SINCERE will help overcome. There is some conceptual ambiguity in the literature around core concepts, resource efficiency and circular economy, also green economy, etc.
There is a need to develop better metrics and indicators for RE/CE that will provide basis for further research - they can be applied by others interested in RE/CE both within academia and beyond.
The evidence base on the economic importance of resource efficiency, and the dynamics of innovation, is weaker than for other key green economy issues such as decarbonisation. The historic dynamics work will provide insight into this issue, itself a direct contribution to the research field. It will also yield quantitative relationships that can be used as a basis for further analysis, e.g. as inputs into modelling frameworks. It is expected that the findings will be useful for theoreticians
The innovation work will provide data and insights relevant to understanding innovation opportunities and dynamics of a core case study sector (metals), and will contribute to further conceptual development in the field of innovation studies. It will provide a rare example of an empirically rich comparative innovation system study for China and Europe.
A broad-based community of modellers will benefit from the innovative and challenging approach to multi-model integration proposed. The linkage of macro-economic and technology-explicit sectoral models will provide important methodological insights, benefiting the respective modelling communities. It will also highlight the importance of key issues in achieving resource efficiency, thus helping to focus future research in this area.
The SINCERE project (SINo-european Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency) is addressing the following priority themes under the Green Economy area:
- The greenness and dynamics of economies;
- Metrics and indicators for a green economy;
- Policies planning, and institutions (including business) for a green economy
- Green economy in cities and metropolitan areas.
A focus on resources, sustainable consumption and production is at the heart of the principles of the Green Economy, according to the UN. China and Europe have highlighted the importance of resource-efficiency and moving towards a 'circular economy'. Europe has adopted Resource Efficiency as a flagship initiative, and China passed a Circular Economy Law in 2009. In light of these policy developments, there is a need to better understand the importance of resource efficiency on economic performance, the metrics and indicators through which action can be motivated and monitored, the underlying drivers of change and prospects for the future, as well as the role of institutions and policies. SINCERE has been developed to address these issues by bringing together leading researchers from five countries: UCL ISR in the UK,the Institute for Applied Ecology in China, Wuppertal University and FHI-ISI in Germany, ParisMinesTech in France and UM-MERIT in the Netherlands. A number of sometimes conflicting concepts can be found in debate describing desirable futures, e.g. the Green Economy, Sustainable Growth, etc. As the difference and the overlap across them is not always clear it is important to implement theoretical comparisons of these concepts and case studies exploring how they have been applied in Europe and China.
Particular importance will be given to the Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency (CE/RE) and how they relate to the Green Economy. In addition to help deliver clarity in the theoretical debate, SINCERE will deliver new indicators for measuring CE/RE. As Indicators are critical for achieving policy goals, we will tackle them from three different angles through Emergy, innovation and SGAP-based indicators. Policy and Institutional settings are clearly very influential on how our society moves towards a Green Economy. The journey of innovations from laboratories to the marketplace is very influenced by policies and institutions supposed to tackle the obstacles normally faced by new technologies. SINCERE will examine the importance of innovation in enabling resource efficiency, both in China and Europe, and will study what enables and prevents the development of new, resource-efficient technologies.
In the last part of the project SINCERE will examining historical patterns between CE/RE and macro-economic performance with particular focus on the relationship between CE/RE, economic competiveness, trade, and industrial structure. After having assessed past trends SINCERE will model how the future might look like by producing scenarios to analyse the implications of CE/RE on the economy, and the impact of policies. This will include multi-scale modelling, from the urban to the global scale. Models play a key role in economic and environmental policy, but often the issue of resources has been sidelined in economic modelling, leaving policymakers without clear guidance on the importance of the issues.
Our modelling work will advance the state-of-the-art for analysis of the macro-economics of resources. SINCERE is a collaborative project building on the comparative advantage of the partners and their knowledge of the national context to develop a truly multi-disciplinary project where disciplines such as neoclassical economic, system dynamics, econometrics, ecology and innovation studies find a space to make an overall compelling picture. Our workplan is integrated to ensure that this project has a legacy so that the ties developed between European and Chinese partners are here to stay and produce future projects.
Monsieur Matthieu Glachant (ARMINES)
The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.
CAS-IAE (Shenyang) Chinese Academy of Science, Institute of Applied Ecology (IAE)
Maastricht University (MERIT) Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation andTechnology (MERIT)
VWL, Uni Wuppertal Lehrstuhl für Volkswirtschaftslehre Makroökonomische Theorie und Politik Bergische Universität Wuppertal
UCL, ISR University College London, Institute of Sustainable Ressources
Help of the ANR 82,805 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: October 2014 - 36 Months