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Folder Seminar on Circular Economy and Biodiversity

"The mutual benefits of a circular economy for business and biodiversity - a value-driven approach": this was the title of a seminar held in The Hague on 7 April 2014. It was organised by the Louis Bolk Institute and the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands and attended by around 80 persons from the business world, NGOs, science and government.

Keynote spreker was Robert ter Kuile, Senior Director Environmental Sustainability and Global Public Policy van PepsiCo. PepsiCo aims at ‘Performance with Purpose’ and invests in innovation through a network approach in order to add value to nature, health and welfare. The company's largest impact within its value chain is in the agro-sector, packaging and transport. Ter Kuile called on governments to decide at the global level which social urgencies should be addressed by the business world, and to facilitate decentralised action to solve those urgencies. He also argued that leading multinationals should share their knowledge with small and medium enterprises (SMEs). In contrast with large companies, SMEs have few resources to experiment with sustanability concepts. Yet it is crucial that they participate in the Circular Economy in order to achieve the sustainability goals as establised by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in its in Vision2050.

The seminar was opened by Rob van Brouwershaven, Director for Nature and Biodiversity of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Further presentations were given by Sjef Staps (Louis Bolk Institute) and Douwe Jan Joustra (One Planet Architectural Institute). In addition, Bette Harms (IUCN-NL), William Visser (RVO) and Chloë de Roos Feinberg (Circle Economy) presented brief 'pitches' about their work on the circular economy. Finally, Klaas van Egmond (Utrecht University) summed up the discussion and presented conclusions. The audience took active part in the discussions which were chaired by Hadasssah de Boer, well known in the Netherlands from her former tv talkshows.


Rob van Brouwershaven in his opening speech stressed that the government of the Netherlands encourages and facilitates the development towards a 'green' and circular economy along two pathways: 1) support to netwerks such as Leaders for Nature and the Biodiversity, Ecology and Economy Platform (Platform BEE), and 2) the publication of a new long-term vision on nature in which a connection is made between nature and economy. (this vision was published on 11 April titled Natuurlijk Verder, Rijksnatuurvisie 2014, ('Naturally Onwards, the Dutch government's vision on nature', in Dutch) - editor's note).

Sjef Staps is the author of the book Over de crisis niets dan goeds ('Nothing but good about the crisis', in Dutch) from which this seminar originated. The book consists of interviews with 25 experts about the climate and biodiversity crisis. Several interviewees - Robert ter Kuile included - concluded that circular economy might provide a way out of the crisis.


Douwe Jan Joustra explained how his own company (OPAi) applies circular concepts. One of their principles is to focus not on acquiring physical equipment but to focus on the use of it instead. For instance, instead of purchasing lamps, they leasen the use of light. He also stressed that we should learn from nature if humanity is to survive.

Klaas van Egmond addressed questions from the audience, e.g. on the role of the government. He concluded that: 1) even within the existing concepts much more efficiency could be reached (e.g. for climate change), already in our own country and in the EU; 2) the government should make the business case for change by simplifying conditions  and creating (financial) incentives; and 3) we should give the younger generation the opportunity to change.



Bette Harms, Leaders for Nature
Leaders for Nature is the IUCN NL business engagement network multinationals and major Dutch enterprises working together on greening the economy. Within each of these companies, professionals from three management levels are joining forces to incorporate natural capital in their core business and take the lead in the transition towards a green and sustainable economy. By following the six step process outlined by Leaders for Nature, each member company is taking action to accomplish net positive impact on biodiversity and ecosystems. This means that they contribute to biodiversity and ecosystem conservation while minimizing the negative effects of their business activities, ensuring that any use of natural resources is sustainable. Leaders for Nature guides her member companies through every step of this process, offering inspiration, knowledge & training and hands-on project support. Currently, the Dutch Leaders for Nature network consists of ABN AMRO, AkzoNobel, Arcadis, Cofely, Desso, DSM, Eneco, Essent, FMO, FrieslandCampina, IBM, ING, Interface, KLM, Nutreco, Philips, PwC, the Port of Amsterdam and Shell. As part of the wider IUCN network, Leaders for Nature offers the platform for companies to not only work together with other companies, but to also connect with partners such as NGOs, governments and academic institutions. Go to our website for the full overview of our programme:

Chloë de Roos Feinberg, Circle Economy:

pitch will follow shortly.

William Visser, RNetherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO):

pitch will follow shortly.


The powerpoints and opening speechcan be downloaden below. The remaining pitches and further highlights will soon be published on this website.

PDF Robert Ter Kuile: Linking the Global with the Local Download
PDF Sjef Staps: Nothing but good about the crisis Download
PDF Douwe Jan Joustra: Circular Economy: a living system Download