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At the 2nd World Circular Economy Forum, held in Yokohama, Japan from 22-24 October this year, Japan’s State Minister of the Environment, Tsukasa Akimoto, pledged that Japan will advance the circular economy when the world’s third biggest economy takes up the presidency of the group of 20 countries (G20) in 2019.

At the closing event of the Minister said: “Japan will bring the output of this forum to various international conferences such as the Asia-Pacific 3R promotion forum, United Nations Environment Assembly UNEA4 and G20, which Japan will be the chair country of next year, and show strong leadership for the circular economy.”

When speaking to the international media at the forum, Finland’s Minister of the Environment Kimmo Tiilikainen stressed that Finland’s EU- and Japan’s G20-presidency in 2019 will be a fantastic opportunity to promote the solutions of circular economy and to fight environmental collapse and climate change.

On Monday 22 October Japan’s Minister of the Environment Yoshiaki Harada and Minister Tiilikainen signed the Memorandum of Environmental Cooperation, which will pave the way for more intensive cooperation between universities, research institutions and companies.

The importance of co-operation was highlighted by Jyrki Katainen, Vice-president of the European Commission: “The circular economy is the industrial leg of fighting climate change”, he stated. “The public sector does not tackle this by itself; we need co-operation with the private sector.”

The WCEF2018 event said the gathering of over 1000 world economy reformers from over 80 countries. The forum presented a plethora of the world’s best circular economy solutions and offered a platform developing new ideas and partnerships. The meeting focused on building a shared vision for the circular economy towards the year 2050.

“We need to have something to strive towards and not let our fears of the unknown and of change limit us and our actions”, said Mikko Kosonen, President of Finland’s Innovation Fund Sitra, when he opened the WCEF2018.

The forum themes included economic benefits and social equity of the circular economy, sustainable lifestyles and consumer solutions, energy and climate, global value chains and trade, as well as the mobility revolution and circular solutions for reducing plastic waste.

“It’s time for us to face the culprit of these crises: the evergrowing consumption of energy and materials, and the unsustainable use of natural resources. We should not only try to treat consequences, but we must address and cure the root cause itself,” said Mari Pantsar, who is leading Carbon-Neutral Circular Economy theme at the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra.

The World Circular Economy Forum is the global initiative of the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra. The WCEF2018 was hosted by Sitra and Japan’s Ministry of the Environment and co-organized with selected international partners. The WCEF2019 will take place in Helsinki, Finland in 3-5 June 2019.