Transitioning to a Circular Economy for a Healthier Planet

June 6, 2022

We only have one Earth, one home, yet we continue to treat it as if we had one hundred. There are no landfills in the natural world - materials flow instead. The waste of one species becomes nourishment for another. But, as humans, we have traditionally taken a linear approach to products: we take, make, and discard. When a new phone is released, we simply dispose of the old one. We're depleting a finite quantity of resources and degrading our planet in the process. We are crossing planetary boundaries, putting our own existence and wellbeing in jeopardy. This model cannot be sustained. It is time for us to rethink our current production and consumption patterns. 

The Circular Economy (CE) as an alternative model of production and consumption seeks to restore our long-forgotten harmony with nature. Inspired by how materials flow in natural ecosystems, the CE focuses on designing products out of non-toxic recyclable materials and on ensuring longevity of product use through creating an enabling environment for product maintenance, repair, refurbishment and re-manufacturing. There is no waste in a CE because at the end of a product life-span, materials are cycled back into the economy, reducing the need for new raw material extraction.  

Transitioning to circularity brings a two-fold benefits: in addition to eliminating waste and regenerating nature, it strengthens value chains, ensures supply stability and contributes to job creation. The EU alone expects the creation of an additional 700,000 jobs from the shift to CE by 2030. 

We’re well aware of the environmental threats Kosovo is faced with. Rapid urbanization coupled with industrial and agricultural activities are causing land degradation, accumulation of waste, and water and air pollution. A gradual transition to a CE would decrease these pressures, contribute to the creation of a healthier environment, and strengthen the economy.  

Kosovo has already started this journey. The Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning, and Infrastructure is leading the preparation of a CE Roadmap with UNDP’s support, based on the successful models and experiences from many countries. The roadmap will be prepared through a participatory and consultative process involving partners from public and private sectors, civil society, international actors, and academia. It will set the vision for transitioning to circularity and it will be concluded with a list of practical and realistic recommendations to be implemented in the future. The CE Roadmap will be the first holistic planning document that will pave the way for Kosovo’s circular economy.  

This will not be an easy journey, but it is something we must do to heal and protect our planet and to ensure prosperity for the generations to come. We only have one Earth, and circularity is needed for it to thrive. 

Mimozë Veliu, Circular Economy Analyst 

Andreas Nord, Socio-Economic Programme Associate 

Agnesa Ajvazi, Intern, Inclusive Growth and Climate Resilience Portfolio