Circling the square: governance of the circular economy transition in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area

New paper, co-authored by Marcin Dąbrowski and Erwin Heurkens (Management in the Built Environment, Bouwkunde, TU Delft) is out in Open Access format, published in European Spatial Research and Policy. The paper uses the case of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area to explore and classify the barriers for managing transitions towards circular economy in that urban region. The paper builds on the insights from the H2020 Repair project. We used the PESTELO framework (Political; Economic; Social; Technological; Environmental; Legal; and Organisational) to make sense of those barriers (see Obersteg et al. 2019) and relate it to the transitions management framework developed by DRIFT institute at Erasmus University Rotterdam (Wittmayer & Loorbach, 2016). There are, in fact, many barriers… even in a circular economy front-runner place like the Amsterdam region. Identifying them is a first step towards catalysing the transitions.


Abstract: Circular economy (CE), the new ‘buzzword’ in urban and regional studies and policy debates, is about shifting from a linear production process towards a circular one in which the generation of waste is minimised, materials circulate in ‘closed loops’, and waste is not considered a burden but rather a resource that brings new economic opportunities. However, while there is a consensus on the need to facilitate a transition towards a circular economy, the governing of this endeavour remains extremely challenging because making a circular economy work requires cutting across sectoral, scalar, and administrative boundaries. Drawing on the sustainability transitions literature and the case of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, arguably one of the frontrunners on the strive towards a circular built environment and economy, the paper seeks to identify and understand barriers for CE transition at a regional scale. The findings underscore the multi-faceted nature of the challenge and offer lessons for the governance of emerging regional circular spatial-economic policies.
Key words: circular economy, transitions, urban regions, governance, sustainability, planning
Cite as:
Heurkens, E., & Dąbrowski, M. (2020). Circling the square: Governance of the circular economy transition in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. European Spatial Research and Policy27(2), 11-31.
Full paper can be read here.
Obersteg, A., Arlati, A., Acke, A., Berruti, G., Czapiewski, K., Dabrowski, M., … & Varjú, V. (2019). Urban regions shifting to circular economy: Understanding challenges for new ways of governance. Urban Planning, 4(3), 19-31.
Wittmayer, J.M. and Loorbach, D. (2016), ‘Governing transitions in cities: Fostering alternative ideas, practices, and social relations through transition management’, [in:] Loorbach, D., Wittmayer, J. M., Shiroyama, H., Fujino, J., & Mizuguchi, S. (Eds.) Governance of urban sustainability transitions. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer.