Towards a Circular Economy: Developing Indicators to Measure Progress in the EU and China

The circular economy concept is increasingly being adopted by policy makers as well as other actors as part of sustainable development agendas. Consequently, attention is also being given to developing tools and methodologies for assessing it effectively.

For the April Beyond GDP newsletter, IEEP’s Green Economy Programme explored the concept of circular economy, with a focus on existing efforts to measure the transition and monitor progress towards long term goals. A number of official and un-official frameworks are already being implemented in Europe and beyond. Measuring circularity is however not without challenges, particularly due to the multi-faceted nature of the concept, including its relationship with many sectors of the economy.

For the purpose of the Newsletter, IEEP’s Green Economy Programme interviewed two international experts to explore how the official systems which have been developed in the EU and China were designed and function in practice.

Having played a key role in establishing the EU Circular Economy Monitoring Framework, Manfred Rosentstock, Deputy Head of Unit at the DG Environment, described the design of the framework and its role in providing a simple and effective system to capture the key elements of the circular economy.

Dr. Bing Zhu, Director of the Institute for Circular Economy at Tsinghua University, explained his work contributing to the development of the Chinese Circular Economy indicator System and stressed the strategic importance of the circular economy to the Chinese Government; with the indicator system providing a means to evaluate its own national progress. Despite the challenges that arise when developing new metrics, their potential for serving as complementary indicators to GDP may very well play a key role in achieving wider climate and sustainable development goals. Read the full interviews here.

Follow the link to subscribe to the Beyond GDP newsletter which explores the successes and limitations of measuring and monitoring the shift to a circular economy, as well as recent news on Beyond GDP indicators, and an agenda of forthcoming events.

For more information on IEEP’s work on indicators please contact Jean-Pierre Schweitzer and Susanna Gionfra.