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Circular Together: How ecosystems will drive the transition

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Executive Summary

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. 

How you will learn?

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Discover 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.

Meet the Leader

Meet the leaders supporting the Certification program!

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Enrollment Information

  • Once you have enrolled, you will be given access to our Learning Management System.
  • The course is entirely online and self-paced. We estimate that the total effort required to be 3 hours.
  • You will be guided through the original content of the course with dynamic, rich, enjoyable, narrated, and easy-to-understand content. The course is divided into easily navigated sections focusing at each stage on the learning objectives to be achieved. Each section is followed by non-graded “knowledge check questions”, to help you ensure that you have successfully assimilated the content. You can go back and view the content as often as you like.
  • When you reach the end of the course, you will be awarded the Certificate of Completion.

What you will gain

  • Access to one Circular Economy course, with free access to the content for one year.
  • A digitally enabled, verifiable, and shareable certificate acknowledging your achievement.
  • One-year free membership in the Circular Economy Alliance Community, including access to Circular Economy Alliance members, resources, and events.
  • Special access to Circular Economy related events, research, resources, and news.

Please note:

  • In many EU countries, the cost of certification can be covered by personal or corporate “training accounts”. Please inquire within your organization or with the appropriate institution within your country for more information.


Circular Economy Alliance Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics

The Circular Economy Alliance platform, services, and products are designed to appeal to and be used by people from a wide variety of different backgrounds, countries, religions, and cultural norms. These diversity and inclusiveness are core values of the CEA, and we encourage our Community to embrace it and share it. That said, this geographic and cultural diversity can make effective communications and general policy definition a bit challenging.

That said, CEA is committed to advancing the transition to a just and inclusive Circular Economy which aims to decouple economic growth from resource use, eliminate waste by design, and tackle climate change. To achieve its mission and vision of a socially fair Circular Economy, CEA has adopted the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility and endeavours to promote the common good while creating value for all stakeholders. With this in mind, the Code of Conduct has been developed to ensure all activity on the platform and within the CEA community is mutually respectful. The Code of Ethics sets out the guiding ethical principles relative to all professional activities of the certified members of the Circular Economy Alliance, informs the actions of our partner network, and defines the conduct of CEA staff and persons acting on behalf of the Company.

The purpose of our Code of Conduct & Code of Ethics is to ensure that the Circular Economy Alliance platform (the Platform), products and services are inclusive and that we, our members, and our community uphold the principles and values linked to Circular Economy, social responsibility, sustainable development and all relevant domains, to ensure that people and the planet are not harmed in the name of profit, and that we all conduct ourselves with mutual respect.

Code of Conduct

The CEA Code of Conduct reflects the ethics and values of the Platform, product, services, and community. It has been prepared with members of the CEA community (the Community), content contributors, instructional designers, and administrators based on established best practices. With the involvement of our stakeholders, we will continue to update the Code of Conduct as we add new products, services, and activities and as we receive feedback from our learners and community members.

We cannot foresee all eventualities and align with all local regulations, so the Code of Conduct should indicate the nature of interactions and the social dynamic we would like to see on this Platform and within the Community. In the event of an issue not covered by this Code of Conduct, the CEA team will decide whether a behavior is acceptable or not, in a manner that is as fair and transparent as possible, while respecting the confidentiality of all involved.

This Code of Conduct applies to all activities on the Talent Learning Management Platform, the Circular Economy Alliance website, its social media pages (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Discord, etc.), including comments, forum posts, and private messages.

Certified Alumni, members of the Community, as well as candidates for Circular Economy certification are encouraged to adopt the following guidelines for conduct:

  • Contribute to maintaining a safe, supportive, and orderly online learning environment that is conducive to learning and to show respect and dignity to other persons and to property.
  • Contact or communicate with CEA administrators and other personnel in a respectful, positive manner.
  • Behave and communicate on and off the Platform in accordance with the principles of Circular Economy, social responsibility, and inclusiveness.
  • Help ensure all CEA members and personnel have a positive experience in all interactions with you.
  • Appropriate behavior we encourage is as follows: communicating and interacting with respect; demonstrating empathy and sensitivity; giving constructive feedback; acting in accordance with the principles of inclusiveness, that is, showing respect for other norms, cultures, life preferences; promoting the values and principles of Circular Economy, social responsibility, and sustainable development.
  • Maintain behavior free from all forms of bullying, harassment, and discrimination.
  • Other forms of inappropriate behavior that will not be tolerated include dangerous, inciteful, or hateful speech; harassment or intimidation; threats of violence; intentional disruption of online discussion, webinars, conference, or other events; retaliation; influencing or encouraging any of the above.
  • We are a learning community, united around the principles of Circular Economy. As such, we encourage experimentation, a growth mindset, and tolerance for failures, mistakes, or lack of understanding.
  • Despite our shared values, disagreements and misunderstandings are bound to occur in a community as diverse as the Community. In the event, have a calm discussion, ask for clarification, and don’t assume that someone is intentionally being offensive.
  • Please get in touch with the site administrators to report any conduct, posts, activity or content that you do not believe is in accordance with this Code of Conduct. We encourage the Community members to report any incidents that violate the Code of Conduct. The CEA team will respond in a timely manner, and the member who violated the Code of Conduct will be contacted directly. Please use the Contact Us link to report any breaches.
  • Please protect your own and other people’s privacy. Please be mindful not to post or otherwise share your own or other people’s personal information publicly online.
  • Unless otherwise stated, all content posted on the Talent Learning Management System is private and is not searchable online.
  • Unless otherwise stated, all content posted on the Community platform is publicly visible and searchable online.
  • If you delete your CEA Community account, you can request that your Community posts and private messages be removed or anonymized.
  • The website administrators may delete activity, comments, posts, and equivalent that do not adhere to the CEA Code of Conduct.
  • In the event of a breach of the Code of Conduct, we either issue a warning, announce an account suspension or, in the event of a grievous violation, we may announce account expulsion and removal from the platform and the Community.
  • If you are part of the Community, we share the same principles. Let’s share the responsibility for creating a positive dynamic on the Platform.

Code of Ethics 

Certified Alumni, members of the Community, as well as candidates for Circular Economy certification are strongly encouraged to uphold the highest standards of ethical norms in line with Circular Economy principles and values:

  • Act with transparency, honesty, integrity, and make the interests of society and the environment a priority, avoid any known conflicts of interest, and aim to create value for all stakeholders.
  • Promote the circularity and sustainability of the systems regulating economic life according to the principles of “people, planet and prosperity”.
  • Act with respect for others and the environment and practice their professional activities in an inclusive and non-discriminatory manner that upholds the values of equity, equality and tolerance.
  • Exercise their leadership and decision-making skills in the pursuit of establishing a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace and in society.
  • Act in a way that furthers the integrity of the discipline of Circular Economy and its representatives.

The code of conduct is regularly reviewed to reflect necessary adaptations that emerge from input received through our CEA members’ reporting or by changes to the prevailing regulatory framework.

Effective as of: 1 March 2022

Last revised: 28 February 2022

More detailed information can me found in the General Terms and Conditions and the Certifications Terms and Conditions.


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