In 2015, the European Commission adopted an ambitious Circular Economy Action Plan to stimulate the transition towards a circular economy, boost global competitiveness, foster sustainable economic growth and generate new jobs.
In 2014 alone there were private investments of around €15 billion in economic sectors relevant to the circular economy, with more than 3.9 million jobs created in these sectors, while patents on recycling and secondary raw materials increased by 35 per cent between 2000 and 2013.
It is further estimated that the transition to a circular economy could reduce EU carbon emissions by 450 million tonnes and save the EU €600 billion by 2030, as well as creating 170,000 new jobs by 2035
In 2018, UNDP partnered with the Government of Serbia, businesses, academia, creative industries and civil society organisations to promote the circular economy, supporting a transformative dialogue for the transition from linear to circular production and consumption, with a focus on the sectors of single-use plastics, textiles and furniture, as well as food waste. The process includes identifying and removing regulatory barriers that companies face in improving the circularity of their operations, promoting good practices and circular business models, as well as the co-creation and development of circular economy roadmaps for Serbia.
In December 2018, UNDP launched the impact acceleration programme “Together for Sustainable Business”, piloting impact investment mechanisms for the circular economy. The programme will support 10 micro, small or medium-sized companies in introducing innovation and growing their operations while generating positive environmental and social impacts.
Recognising the need to promote eco-design, a Young Balkan Designers Open call was launched, inviting designers to propose circular design solutions that promote the sustainability and circulation of products, materials and services. Likewise, capacity building of research institutions will support the R&D necessary to find appropriate solutions in the areas of technological, social and business-model innovation.
UNDP is committed to building a circular culture among all stakeholders along the value chain. The project team organised a series of creative workshops with schoolchildren, while Food Waste Reduction workshops were organised in partnership with the Serbian Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Food Banks, Restaurant Associations and Social Enterprises.
The overarching goal of all these activities is to support sustainable growth in Serbia, growth that stimulates innovation and competitiveness protects our environment and our health while ensuring that no one is either left behind or excluded from the progress.
It is estimated that a third of all food produced globally is discarded. Each person in Serbia wastes an average of 35kg of food annually. At the same time, there are over 35,000 people using 75 Soup Kitchens across the country.
UN SDG 12 calls for a 50 per cent reduction in global food waste at the retail and consumer level by 2030.