The regional transition to a circular economy: Insight into assessing the transition process to a circular economy at the regional level in the Netherlands
Bommel, Pieter van
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The concept of a circular has gained increasing attention as a means to address high consumption levels, material scarcity and unequal access to natural resources. This shift from a linear to a circular economy is a complex transition. Understanding and steering this transition requires insight into the transition process. This research aims to contribute to this understanding by providing insight into assessing the CE transition process at the regional level in the Netherlands. The first part of this research analysing the suitability of several CE indicator frameworks for assessing the CE transition at the regional level and classifying them using the policy evaluation tool used by the Dutch government to guide the CE transition process. It was found that in the formative phase, which is the early stage of the transition, the use of a transition indicator framework can be most suitable to assess the transition process. This resulted in the choice of one transition indicator framework, the mission-oriented innovation framework (MIS). In this framework, several functions are proposed that are identified as boundary conditions in the transition process. These functions are measured in the second part of the research where the framework is applied to a regional case study. In the second part, the mission-oriented innovation framework is applied to the Food Valley region in the Netherlands. This was achieved by structured interviews of thirteen stakeholders within the region. The results give a in depth insight into the local circular ecosystem by identifying the weaknesses, strengths, and possible improvement related to each function. Furthermore, several interactions between functions were observed, supporting the dynamic system of functions. The framework provided a systematic overview of the state of the circular ecosystem and the role of different stakeholders within the Food Valley Region. The research shows that using a transition framework can contribute to the assessment of the CE transition at the regional level, especially in the early phase of the transition. However, the use of a transition framework is no silver bullet and should be considered in the context of the transition phase because it doesn’t take into account the outcomes of the transition. Overall, more research is needed to further develop transition frameworks as well as transition dynamics to better understand the transition process and help steering the transition in the right direction.
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