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Circular Economy Working Group

The financial sector as driver of the circular economy; that is the objective of the Circular Economy Working Group. The working group proposes four concrete actions to address bottlenecks in the financing of circular businesses and projects.

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Bottlenecks

The financial sector plays an important role in providing finance to circular businesses and thus in accelerating the transition to a circular economy. Financial parties experience bottlenecks in financing circular projects. To tackle these bottlenecks, the Circular Economy Working Group proposes four concrete actions.

Integrating linear risks and circular opportunities in financial decision-making through a.o. the Circular Risk Scorecard

Linear risks and circular opportunities must be explicitly considered in financing decisions. They include the risk of discontinuity by continuing to operate under the unsustainable assumption of infinite resources. At the same time, circular risk must be assessed more realistically by creating more future-oriented (risk) models and looking for certainties in future cash flows, long-term stability and chain contracts.

The Risk project group has jointly developed an open-source, non-competitive Circular Risk Scorecard, which looks at risks and opportunities by adopting a circular perspective. To read more about this scorecard, or if you would like to use it at no charge, click the link below.

Four actions

Key is that circularity must be an integral part of the assessment of funding applications and investment decisions. This requires four actions:

  • include linear and circular risks in financing decisions
  • weigh circular metrics in financing
  • gain experience by closing landmark deals
  • optimise and broaden the range of financing instruments.

Factor linear and circular risks into financing decisions

Linear risk  – the risk of discontinuity by continuing to operate under the unsustainable assumption of infinite resources – must be explicitly considered in financing decisions. At the same time, circular risk must be assessed more realistically by creating more future-oriented (risk) models and looking for certainties in future cash flows, long-term stability and chain contracts.

Weigh circular metrics in financing

The inclusion of circular metrics in financing increases transparency, allows for external verification and benchmarking and reduces the risk of greenwashing. Uniform circular metrics lead to a more level playing field, in which circular activities (or lack thereof) become visible and can be taken into account in financing and investment decisions.

Build up experience by closing landmark deals

By closing landmark deals and making circular propositions fit for finance, practical experience is gained more quickly. A landmark deal is financing a company that explicitly pursues circularity and applies at least one new element of circular finance. The insights arising from this – how best to measure circularity, how risks and opportunities should be weighed and how financiers can use this information in a structural way – can then be shared with the sector. Standard documentation is developed and made available.

Optimise and broaden the range of financing instruments

By expanding and optimising the range of financing instruments, we will soon reach a tipping point at which circular financing becomes the standard. With more risk capital for early stage circular companies and for developing appropriate financing, circular companies can scale up sufficiently to meet investment criteria for later stage financiers, such as banks and institutional investors. Blended finance, public funding and financial innovation can play an important role here.

Cooperation

The financial sector depends on its customers, governments, regulators and supervisors. All these players will need to work together, act together and share insights with each other so that circular finance will be business as usual by 2030. Together, we can use the financial sector as a lever and a driver for the circular transition.

Publication and roadmap

During the Week of the Circular Economy, from 7 to 12 February 2022, the working group presented the first results of its work and published its roadmap to a circular economy in 2030 (link to the Dutch report, link to the English summary).

Interested in this publication? Send an email to hilde.sijbring@circularfinancelab.nl.

About the working group

The Circular Economy Working Group was set up in 2021 as part of the Sustainable Finance Platform. The working group works with dedicated teams on specific projects that contribute to at least one objective on the Circular Finance Roadmap 2030.

Members of the working group

Members of the Circular Economy Working Group are representatives from the financial institutions ABN AMRO, ING, Invest-NL, Royal Netherlands Institute of Chartered Accountants (NBA), NVB, NWB Bank, Rabobank, ROM Nederland, Triodos Bank. Strategic partners of the Circular Economy Working Group are the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Province of Utrecht, the Municipality of Amsterdam and European Investment Bank.

Chair Circular Economy Working Group: Anne Mieke van der Werf (Invest-NL).

Circular Risk Scorecard - DNB Platform Talk

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Roadmap Circular Finance 2030

694KB PDF
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