ICLEI East Asia partners with Ellen MacArthur Foundation to accelerate circular economy in China

On April 9, the ICLEI--Local governments for Sustainability East Asia Secretariat (ICLEI East Asia) and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) announced a new partnership, reaffirming that they both recognize the critical role that cities play in the transition towards a low carbon, circular economy, and will align their efforts to accelerate local actions and transitions in the East Asia region, especially in China.

ICLEI identifies Circular Development as one of its five interconnected pathways which provides a framework for designing integrated solutions, and a guide that encourages holistic thinking for sustainable urban development through systemic changes. Driven by the local circular movement, ICLEI and its partners have started to develop a new initiative “Green Circular Cities Coalition (GCCC)” since May 2018, aiming to empower cities in the East Asian region and worldwide to move away from a linear development pattern to a circular economy. By facilitating experiences and knowledge exchange among sub-national governments and stakeholders, and providing capacity building opportunities and resources to cities, the Coalition will support cities in implementing circular solutions and mainstreaming the circular economy.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s mission is to accelerate the transition to the circular economy. It works with leading businesses, governments and academia to develop and promote understanding of the circular economy concept, and to demonstrate its application at scale. In March 2019, the Foundation launched new online resources to support cities in applying circular economy approaches. The organization has explored the potential circular economy landscape in China via its research project “The Circular Economy Opportunity for Urban and Industrial Innovation in China”, which was released at the 2018 World Economic Forum in Tianjin. It continues to engage local stakeholders in the discussion around circular economy, and facilitate knowledge and experience exchange between businesses and governments, in China and around the world.

With the Foundation’s insights, research base and knowledge on the circular economy, and ICLEI East Asia’s extensive experiences working with local governments and stakeholders in the region, the new partnership will allow the two organizations to make a joint effort in supporting cities’ circular economy practices, and developing Chinese circular city case studies for knowledge sharing, in order to enable the scale up of circular solutions in China and inspire more cities to take actions.


“Circular cities are regenerative systems in which resource inputs, waste and externalities are minimized by closing material loops. ICLEI supports cities’ efforts towards the circular development and share their best practices with each other. The new partnership between ICLEI East Asia with EMF could create valuable knowledge on circular development in cities and support cities for their sustainable future.”

Shu Zhu, Regional Director & China Representative, ICLEI East Asia


“As major engines for economic growth, cities can drive the circular economy agenda forward to unlock economic, environmental, and social benefits. This is particularly true in China where the pace of urbanisation is unprecedented - this is why the Ellen MacArthur Foundation is delighted to strengthen its collaboration with ICLEI East Asia, focusing on the development of case studies and tools, as well as fostering dialogue among municipal stakeholders to accelerate the transition.”

Jocelyn Blériot, Executive Officer, Ellen MacArthur Foundation




About ICLEI--Local Governments for Sustainability
ICLEI—Local Governments for Sustainability is a global network of more than 1,750 local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development. Active in 100+ countries, ICLEI influences sustainability policy and drive local action for low emission, nature-based, equitable, resilient and circular development. Our Members and team of experts work together through peer exchange, partnerships and capacity building to create systemic change for urban sustainability.

Based in Seoul, South Korea, the ICLEI East Asia Secretariat was founded in 2012 to support the Members in the region to achieve urban sustainability through ICLEI’s 5 Pathways. In better supporting local governments in China, ICLEI East Asia opened its Beijing Office in March 2018.

About the Ellen MacArthur Foundation
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was launched in 2010 with the aim of accelerating the transition to the circular economy. Since its creation, the charity has emerged as a global thought leader, putting the circular economy on the agenda of decision-makers around the world. The charity’s work focuses on seven key areas: insight and analysis; business; institutions, governments, and cities; systemic initiatives; circular design; learning; and communications.

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