Circular economy solutions can halt biodiversity loss, and the food and agriculture sector can make the largest contribution. This is the conclusion of a study published in May 2022 by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra. The study finds that circular economy interventions in four key sectors could halt global biodiversity loss and help the world's biodiversity recover to 2000 levels by 2035.
By designing out waste, making products that last and keeping those products in active use as long as possible, we get more value from what we have. This reduces the need to extract new natural resources and leaves more room for nature to thrive.
The potential of the circular economy is significant: circular interventions in the food and agriculture, construction, textiles and forest sectors can halt biodiversity loss even if no other action is taken. According to the study, the sector where circular interventions can have the largest positive impact is food and agriculture. Merely by shifting to more alternative proteins and regenerative agriculture and by reducing food waste by half, biodiversity loss could be halted by 2035.
In practice, the transition to a circular economy in the food and agriculture sector will make it possible to produce the food humanity consumes on a much smaller area of agricultural land and with fewer inputs, such as fertilisers, leaving more room for nature to thrive. The study also looked at the impact of land-use change on biodiversity. It found that the circular interventions examined could free up agricultural land corresponding to as much as 1.5 times the size of the European Union for other uses by 2050.
To enable the transition to take place, both policymakers and businesses would have to harness the circular economy as a tool for halting biodiversity loss: firstly, by integrating the circular economy into all decision-making and strategies, and secondly, by emphasising circular interventions that effectively halt biodiversity loss while mitigating climate change.
For more information go to the SITRA website