Report

The circular economy and developing countries

July 21st 2016 - 10:36

A transition towards a ‘circular economy’ - in which redundant consumer goods are viewed as input rather than waste - offers great potential for societies to reduce their environmental footprint. Once products reach the end of their lifespan new value can be generated by re-using valuable resources.

In today’s globalized world, widely used (consumer) goods such as mobile phones, are generally composed of resources and materials from all corners of the world. For example, in 2014, Brazil was the largest exporter of iron ore to the EU. Lithium, a key component of batteries, is mostly imported from the US. And nearly half of aluminum ores and concentrates imported by the EU come from Guinea. Various economic sectors in Europe (e.g. aerospace, renewable energy, technology, etc.) are highly dependent on the availability of specific sets of raw materials.

However, in spite of the strong interconnectivity between export markets and countries of origin, meager attention is paid to the consequences that a transition to circularity may have on countries that rely on the export of raw materials for (economic) stability, in particular developing countries. After all, a circular economy could, ceteris paribus, result in reduced revenues for resource-exporting developing countries.

In conjunction with the upcoming Dutch government-wide program on the circular economy and the EU’s circular economy action plan, this Issue Brief by the Centre of Expertise on Resources presents the outcome of a data-analysis into the effects that a circular transition in the Netherlands and Europe may have on developing countries heavily reliant on the export of a select number of (critical) raw materials (minerals and metals) to the Dutch and EU market.

The paper can be read via the download button.

Sijbren de Jong is a Strategic Analyst at HCSS and lecturer in Geo-Economics at Leiden University, The Hague. He has a PhD in EU external energy security relations from the University of Leuven and holds degrees in Economic Geography (MSc) from the University of Groningen and Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding (MA) from the University of Leuven. His geographical areas of expertise include Russia, Central Asia and the Caspian Sea Region; Central and Eastern Europe; and the Western Balkans.

Reinier Bergema is a junior analyst at HCSS. He holds a dual Master’s degree in Political Science (International Relations) and Public Administration (Crisis and Security Management), both from Leiden University. His research focus includes, inter alia, radicalization, (jihadist) foreign fighters, and terrorism.

Artur Usanov is a strategic analyst at HCSS. He has an MBA with distinction from the London Business School and an MSc in Engineering with distinction from Kaliningrad Technical University. He is also currently finishing his doctoral dissertation in policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Prior to HCSS, Artur worked at RAND Corporation in the U.S., the Kaliningrad Regional Economic Development Agency and the EastWest Institute in Russia. He also taught at Kaliningrad State Technical University and Kaliningrad International Business School.

Michel Rademaker is the Deputy Director of HCSS. He has a degree in Transport and Logistics, which he obtained at the University of Tilburg. He has fifteen years of hands-on experience as an officer in The Royal Netherlands Army, where he held various military operational and staff posts and also served a term in former Yugoslavia. After leaving the armed forces, Mr. Rademaker went on to work at the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) as a project and program manager and senior policy advisor for ten years.