The 2018-2020 World Climate Emergency . . . and the Legend of the Hummingbird

India Assam rice farmers working in intense hear

One day, a very long time ago and in a faraway place you have probably never heard of, or so the legend goes, a huge forest fire was raging all around the countryside. All the animals were terrified, running around in circles, crying and helplessly watching the impending disaster.

But there in the middle of the flames, and above all the cowering animals, was one tiny hummingbird busy flying from a small pond to the fire, each time fetching a few drops with its beak to throw on the flames. And then again/ And then again. And yet again.

After a certain time, an old grouchy armadillo, annoyed by this ridiculous useless agitation on the part of the hummingbird, cried out: “Tiny bird! Don’t be a fool. It is not with those minuscule drops of water one after the other that you are going to put out the fire and save us all! ”

To which the hummingbird replied, “Could be.  But I’m still going to do my bit”.

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Walter Stahel on the Performance Economy


Walter Stahel, architect and industrial analyst, argues that the circular economy should be considered a framework: as a generic notion, the circular economy draws on several more specific approaches that gravitate around a set of basic principles.

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COMING FULL CIRCLE: Why Social and Institutional Dimensions Matter for the Circular Economy

Introductory summary and selected excerpts from a key read by  Vincent Moreau, Marlyne Sahakian, Pascal van Griethuysen, and François Vuille, appearing in the Journal of Industrial Ecology dated 28 April 2017. We can strongly recommend the full contents of  the Special Issue of that date: “Exploring the Circular Economy”.

In light of the environmental consequences of linear production and consumption processes, the circular economy (CE) is gaining momentum as a concept and practice, promoting closed material cycles by focusing on multiple strategies from material recycling to product reuse, as well as rethinking production and consumption chains toward increased resource efficiency.

Yet, by considering mainly cost-effective opportunities within the realm of economic competitiveness, it stops short of grappling with the institutional and social predispositions necessary for societal transitions to a CE.

Although the entropy law remains intransigent, institutional conditions and societal values can be challenged and transformed through political processes, in order to usher in a more equitable and circular economy.

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Visiting Lecturer: Jason Hickel on our addiction to economic groowth

Jason Hickel is an anthropologist at the London School of Economics and author of The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions.

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Barriers & Drivers towards a New Circular Economy

– Freek van Eijk, Managing Director Acceleratio, March 2015

Barriers & Drivers towards a New Circular Economy: Literature Review

The transition to a circular economy requires a systemic approach which makes use of a wide toolkit of policies and measures, across different points of value changes and affecting the full set of private and public stakeholders.

The circular economy is rapidly rising up political and business agendas. In contrast to today’s largely linear, ‘take-make-use-dispose’ economy, a circular economy aims to decouple economic growth from the use of natural resources and ecosystems by using those resources more effectively. By definition  it is a driver for innovation in the areas of material-, component- and product reuse, as well as new business models such as solutions and services. In a circular economy, the more effective use of materials enables to create more value, both by cost savings and by developing new markets or growing existing ones.

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Although they’re located on opposite sides of the planet and have very different cultures and customs, the Netherlands and Taiwan have plenty in common. Both are roughly the same size, are densely populated, and see the Circular Economy as an emergent guiding light for economic and environmental policy.
Both the Netherlands and Taiwan are fortunate to have the resources to make big steps. The Netherlands’ environmental efforts have been recognized as being more successful thus far, ranking 36th in the 2016 Yale University Environmental Performance Index (EPI), compared with Taiwan’s 60th. But the EPI primarily measures how a country is doing on environmental metrics like air quality, forest management, etc., and doesn’t account for things like the activities of companies or the “resource footprint” of cities, which are equally significant.
Both countries are taking a leading role on circularity domestically, with numerous initiatives from government and the private sector aimed at encouraging circular urban planning, reducing and reusing waste flows, and stimulating green energy.

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circular economy Taipei Taiwan waitig for garbge truck

Taiwan has limited space to bury its garbage, so recycling is critical. The island recycled about 58 percent of its household waste in 2016, up from 55 percent the year before, according to the Cabinet-level Environmental Protection Administration (EPA).

While the zero waste circular economy is still a distant goal, the concept got a welcome boost from President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in her inaugural address last May. She said Taiwan would strictly monitor and control all sources of pollution, adding that the island could not afford to endlessly expend natural resources. “We will bring Taiwan into an age of circular economy, turning waste into renewable resources.”

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