Framework for “Circularity by Design” : Working Paper M1.1. Framework & Governance

Valencia, Vivian; Koppelmäki, Kari; Morrow, Oona; Vrieze, A.G.M. de; Wagenberg, C.P.A. van; Bos-Brouwers, H.E.J.; Schulte, Rogier; Wiskerke, J.S.C.


In this report, we identify and discuss the key limitations of a “circular economy”: a poor, practically non-existent, inclusion of a social dimension; a reductionist approach that undermines systemic change towards circular agri-food systems; and a focus on shallow leverage points that are not conducive to systemic change. We propose a radical approach to circularity by adopting the concept of a circular society, which extends to incorporate the social dimension. We root circularity by design on the integration of three frameworks: the doughnut economy, a food systems approach, and leverage points. The doughnut economy provides a vision for a safe operating space within planetary boundaries that places emphasis not on economic growth but rather on prosperity; while a food systems approach provides a methodology for mapping and navigating the doughnut economy by using a systemic approach and drawing from all dimensions of sustainability—economy, environmental and social. We draw attention to the need for targeting deep leverage points, which focus on design, and require institutional and value changes. Deep leverage points are in contrast with the technical and reductionists fixes (i.e., shallow points) that dominate interventions in the CE. The next report will delve on the applications of this framework on agri-food systems at the urban scale with a focus on deep leverage points around institutions and governance for the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area.