Agreement between Flanders & NRW and political statements at Circular Valley Forum

The Circular Valley Forum is an annual event organised by the Circular Valley Foundation. It gathers the who is who of industry stakeholders from Wuppertal and NRW and manages to attract political attention as well. The definition of that valley was vague enough to accommodate both Wuppertal as the centre of a new circular valley, as well as the entirety of North Rhine-Westphalia as a hotspot of the circular economy.

At this year’s Circular Valley Forum on 16 November in Wuppertal, the Prime Minister of NRW, Wüst, and Minister-President Jambon of Flanders signed a bilateral agreement to increase collaboration in the circular economy between their two regions. Together with the political statements from four other NRW ministers, as well as numerous industry executives voicing their support for circular economy, it became clear that NRW wants to be a major player in circular economy – of which we see bioeconomy as an essential part. We hope the bilateral agreement will be followed up with support to intensify our cross-border collaboration with Flanders!

Several high-level panel discussions ranged in topics from energy for a circular economy, financing, or cooperation along the value chain to topics such as sports or communication. In most discussions, the panellists seemed to agree on the main points: the need for cheap, renewable energy, the preference for material use of energy-rich molecules such as ammonia or hydrogen, the importance of stringent quality levels even while switching to recycled or bio-based materials, and the need for more efficient bureaucracy to enable faster construction or revamping of facilities. An interesting external view was given by Carsten Cramer, Managing Director of the German football club Borussia Dortmund. He pointed out how football can contribute to the topic of circular economy by shining a light and raising awareness, while bringing a lightness to the topic. The club itself is looking to increase its sustainability in several ways, from decreasing water consumption for its green lawn to using heat from underground mine water for energy generation, from reusable textile shirts to reusable drinking cups (which, apparently, cannot be used in the major fan zone since they get stepped on too often).

The event was also the chance for the cohort of supported start-ups from around the world to present their ideas, including several interesting ones from the biotech/bio-based sector, looking to create value from side streams.

Read more about the event at the Circular Valley Foundation website.