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Circular Together: How ecosystems will drive the transition

Lead contributor: Dr. Chiara Battistoni

To understand the circular economy is necessary to pass from an individual to a systemic and ecosystemic approach to tackle problems and discover opportunities to create circular innovation. This chapter will provide the elements needed to comprehend and apply this different approach. 

 The chapter starts with an overview of the current linear scenario to understand the critical problems of our century, the urgent need for a change to the cultural and economic model. Last, the section highlights the available tools that can facilitate targeted actions while transitioning (economic models and cultural). 

Afterwards, it presents the concept of ecosystem and how it has been transposed from the biology ‘ecological ecosystem’ to the economic field, building the roots to numerous concepts such as the business, entrepreneurial, and innovation ecosystems heavily defined in the literature by many scholars. 

A part of the chapter is dedicated to the existing possibilities in applying the approach, identifying the underlining elements, the features, and the visualization methods. This part will further enhance the ability of the readers to conclude on a final definition of the ecosystem, including the multiple and heterogeneous actors involved within a geographically defined context, linked with interconnections of interdependencies, where each actor has a fundamental role for the ecosystem governance and behavior mechanism. 

The readers will be taught how to map the actors and visualize the relationship with the different flows among them (material, knowledge, economic value flow). This extensive background is necessary to understand the deep connections between the ecosystem approach and the circular economy and apply it. 

Discovering the relationships among the different actors can help develop circular innovation by implementing alternative business models of the Circular Economy within a redefined circular economy ecosystem. Finally, the chapter offers two examples to illustrate the concept closer to the actual situation and conditions that practitioners face every day. The first one is explicitly applied to the textile sector, and the second is broader to the industrial sector. 

The chapter also focuses on the journey this shift requires, including a change at the systems level and a new value creation mindset being coupe of the most crucial lessons readers will learn. 

It also emphasizes the required cross collaborations among actors and sectors, the fusion of domains, and the different competencies to design alternative business models that encapsulate the Circular Economy. 

 The ecosystem approach is in line with the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in particular, goal 17 on Partnerships for the goals aimed at strengthening the local actors for local, sustainable development. It is also linked to SDG 9 on industry, innovation, and infrastructure, given this approach helps build more resilient processes and foster circular innovation. Moreover, it is also in line with SDG 12 on responsible consumption and production because effective ecosystems can facilitate sustainable production patterns with a broader scope. 

What's inside

How can we shift away from the linear economy?

Explore the current economic activities and how they generate societal and environmental externalities and learn some alternative avenues to address them. Get access now to various solutions that play a crucial role in shifting away from the linear approach.

How can we transit toward a circular economy?

Discover and analyze alternative economic models and a systemic approach, which can serve as a cultural paradigm with detailed information on why we need to advance from the linear economy and embrace a circular economy instead.

What is an ecosystem approach?

The ecosystem approach is at the core of every circular economy solution. Gain awareness and understanding now on the importance of the ecosystem approach, its methodology and essential components.

What’s the catch with ecosystems?

Discover insights that are directly linked to the principal elements of an eco-systemic approach. Explore now a new vision that serves as a foundational link between the ecological and economic fields.

What are the synergies offered by an ecosystem?

Learn how the fusion of numerous disciplines requirements and actors could greatly benefit from the synergies between multiple models. An ecosystem can provide a closer look at those synergies and unleash valuable insights.

What are the enablers for an ecosystem approach?

Deep dive into various visualization methods can elevate crucial components that play a vital role in quickly identifying the remarkable opportunities enabled by applying the ecosystem approach.

Case studies and best practices

Get access to numerous examples that allow professionals to understand better the application of the ecosystem approach and how it can add value in their landscape for designing innovation and custom business models.

The overarching impact of ecosystems on Circular Economy

Discover the overarching impact of ecosystems on the Circular Economy framework and explore all the alternative avenues to add value to your organizations and operations.