How is the transition to a Circular Economy happening in Europe? What role does this plays within the European Cohesion Policy? What ideas can the regional policy-making experiences related to the Circular Economy offer? These are some of the questions at the center of the debate developed at CIRCULAR REGIONS ON THE WAY - A vision on Cohesion Policy Beyond 2020 organized in Brussels at the Office of the Piedmont Region on 22 March by the Department of Architecture and Design of the Politecnico di Torino in the framework of the Interreg Europe RETRACE project.

The discussion was articulated on several levels thanks to the varied composition of the panel of speakers that included regional Managing Authorities and representatives of the European Commission (Janez Potočnik (UNEP), Paola Migliorini (DG Environment), Jean-Pierre Halkin (DG Regio), Eva-Maria Revilla-Peñaranda (DG Grow), Marjana Dermelj (Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy) Vincenzo Zezza (Piedmont Region)) to address the various facets of the issue: from the need to overcome the idea of recycling to the importance of the Circular Economy for the European cohesion policy, from the role of the social economy and of the civil servants to the Sustainable Development Goals, different themes have been discussed starting from the European dimension to the regional and local one.

"Transition to a new economic model integrating all pillars of sustainability should be in the centre of our attention" said Janez Potočnik, former European Commissioner and current co-chairman of the UNEP: "All levels (global, EU, national, regional, local, city) and all stakeholders (public & private actors, financial sector, civil society, academia…) should actively participate in the system change". Essential in this process is also the inclusion of those actors who are disadvantaged by this paradigm shift: " Active dialogue with potential losers is necessary to make transition fair and possible" stressed Potočnik. 

The efforts made at the European level in the field of Circular Economy also take on a global dimension, contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) "The EU Circular Economy agenda as a key contribution towards SDGs by: creating jobs and boosting GDP (SDG 8 & 9), improving environmental quality for citizens and animals alike (SDGs 14 & 15), combatting plastic marine litter (SDG 15), protecting freshwater resources (SDG 6), decreasing greenhouse gas emissions (SDG 13) and generally making our economic model and daily lives more sustainable (SDGs 11 and 12)" recalled Paola Migliorini, Team Leader of the Circular Economy Action Plan at the EU Commission's Environment Directorate-General. 

The event, moderated by former BBC journalist Aminda Leigh, represented the first Interregional dissemination event of  RETRACE and concluded the first Phase of the project. Phase 2 started on April 1st 2018 and will be dedicated to the implementation of these policies and the monitoring of the results obtained.