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.
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.
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.
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).
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About the working group
The Circular Economy Working Group was set up in 2021 as part of the Sustainable Finance Platform. The main working group focuses on a sector-wide strategy for circular finance. The Circular Metrics and Assessment sub-working group focuses on more standardisation for measuring the circular economy for the financial sector and its translation into indicators for risk models and methods. The Level Playing Field for Financing the Circular Economy sub-working group focuses on a standard policy for circular service models.
Members of the working group
Members of the working group include financial institutions and various other organisations: Invest-NL, Rabobank, ABN Amro, Ministry of I&W, PGGM, ING, Bird&Bird, KPMG, Royal Netherlands Institute of Chartered Accountants (NBA), NEN, European Investment Bank, Nederlandse Waterschapsbank (NWB), Sustainable Finance Lab, Circle Economy, Fair Capital Partners, Doen Participaties, Copper8, Nyenrode Business University.
The working group's chairs are: Anne Mieke van der Werf (Invest-NL), Björn Aarts (Rabobank), Hein Brekelmans (ABN Amro).
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