Wrapping up the year with ‘Balkans Go Circular’ conference
It was truly a pleasure to have you with us on the international ‘Balkans Go Circular’ hybrid conference. It was another stop on our collaborative journey towards the implementation of circular economy in the Balkan region.
The circular economy gives us many opportunities to face the challenges that we’re experiencing in our world. We can solve many challenges like pollution, landfills and to mitigate climate change. But we can do it only if we join our efforts, share knowledge, experience, and information. We must work together to make a transformation from the linear, inefficient system in which we are living now, to the circular system that will help us live better and more responsibly towards environment and our fellow Earthlings. A difficult task is upon us, but this future is achievable and we already have some of the tools that we can use in our battle against further destruction of Earth’s ecosystem.
The conference was sponsored by EiT Climate KIC, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNDP) Serbia and we’re greatly thankful for their support.
Who has joined us at the conference?
During the two-days conference, we got a chance to hear from the circular economy experts and practitioners from the region and beyond. Everyone passionate about the circular economy and environmental issues got a chance to learn from the speakers and from each other. Many of us got answers for some questions we wanted to ask for a long time, and we used a chance to interact with eminent speakers from the circular economy world.
The conference was opened by Mr. Milan Veselinov, founder and director of CirEkon and Ms. Nadia Petkova, Director, Regional Network, SME Finance & Development, EBRD.
Then, we’re able to hear from our keynote speakers. On our first day were heard from Dr. Kirsten Dunlop, Chief Executive Officer, EIT Climate-KIC, Prof. Phoebe Koundouri, Professor at Athens University of Economics and Business and Mr. Ismar Ćeremida, Project Coordinator at UNDP BiH. The second day was opened by Dr. Elena Simina Lakatos, Founding President of the Ernest Lupan Institute for Circular Economy and Environment (IRCEM), and later we heard more Mr. Valentin Nikolov, Executive Director of Bulgarian Construction Chamber and Ms. Aleksandra Miladinović, Western Balkan Regional Coordinator for Policy Dialog and Stakeholders Relations, SME Finance & Development, EBRD. Last but nor least, Mr. Harald Friedl was able to join us virtually again this year.
We also hosted 4 panels on complex and intertwined issues. We discussed the current situation in the region regarding circularity, and why and how the governments, media, academia, business sector and citizens should engage in creating a circular world. On our second day, we talked how to solve complex challenges and how circular economy can help us erase boundaries and look beyond profit and national borders.
Lastly, we heard from practitioners who are want to create a better world by implementing circular economy in their bussiness. We heard about the materials made from fungi and coffee waste, about the panels made from recycled glass, the app that prevents creating food waste, and many more.
Virtual and the real-life event – the best of both circular worlds
Unlike last time, we were able this year to organize the event live, but we also wanted for the audience that was not able to join us offline, to experience the conference. For this, we used virtual technology to enable participants to joins us on our live sessions, interact with each other by cozying up near our campfire, ask questions and talk to our speakers. We hope that you exchanged some contacts and have already some collaborations in motion!
The platform is still open for interaction, so invite you to take a look. And have fun!
What did we talk about at The Balkans Go Circular hybrid conference?
During 2-days of rich program, we tackled some interesting topics, from communication of circular economy and the importance of collaboration in transition to a circular world to how to solve complex challenges in circular economy. We also discussed one important topic that always pops up – ‘How can we finance the transformation?’ – and we provided many participants with the insights to current and future funding opportunities.
Besides that, our lecturers helped us discover some relevant and useful insights about the situation in the Balkan countries. We talked with the experts from Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and each of them explained to us the specificities in their countries. They talked about the practical challenges they were facing in the past and the ambitious plans they have for the future.
What we were most excited was a workshop with our enthusiastic students who learned how to map out the challenges through the deep demo approach.
What are the further steps towards circularity we should all make?
We do not plan to stop anytime soon. This conference offered many answers, but not all of them. We need to answer these questions together. In order to achieve a more just and sustainable world, we need to work on the collaboration between all of us, as human beings, and us as government representatives, business directors and owners, communicators teachers, professors, students, citizens, etc.
We invite you and encourage you to implement circularity in your life. Let’s talk about it with others, because we need to work together to make this world a better place. We will be there, by your side to give you our support.
Lastly, we thank our sponsors for believing in our mission for making ‘Balkans go circular’ conference a dream come true.
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