The scope, coherence and effectiveness of responses to complex urban challenges depend on their ability to integrate the various components of urban policy, and in particular those whose relevance goes beyond a specific thematic framework. In the transition to a circular economy in cities, four cross-cutting themes stand out:
The artificialisation of soil, the construction and maintenance of buildings and urban infrastructure and the energy needs resulting from their use and patterns of mobility and consumption make cities the places of highest carbon intensity. The challenge of decarbonisation thus depends critically on the functioning of urban areas and their management capacity to change energy demand patterns and efficiency. The transition to a circular economy can and should contribute to this by promoting urban compactness and efficient management and use of land, built spaces, urban green and empty spaces, sustainable patterns of urban mobility, local renewable energy production and short circuits and shared production and consumption systems.
- Public procurement
The quality of public investment and consumption, particularly at sub-regional and local levels, is a critical factor in the speed of the transition to a circular economy in cities and a potential strategic tool for political action. To accelerate the transition to a circular economy, public actors should use public procurement as an integral part and strategic tool to implement policy priorities and social and environmental objectives and should make the best use of procurement for innovation to adapt public services to societal change and develop strategic notions of circularity in public demand.
- Digital transition
The digital transition in cities creates new solutions for information, communication and management in the provision of public services that can contribute to understand and operate their metabolism and logistics flows in a logic of efficiency in the use of resources, essential in the transition to a circular economy. But it represents above all a potential for change and transformation in urban governance promoted by digital innovation ecosystems, which emerge as collaborative platforms involving public authorities at various levels, bringing citizens, businesses and academia together in a continuous, shared, open, informed, flexible and incremental process of co-creation, reflecting the models of day-to-day organisation of the city and provision of public services and the business models and organisation of production and consumption.
- Equity and social inclusion
The transition to a circular economy involves a profound restructuring of the dynamics of local-based economic relations, introducing new activity models linked to the shortening and closure of production-consumption circuits, the intensification of the use and extension of product life cycles, based on collaborative platforms of proximity production and consumption, transactions between peers, matching of supply and demand, shared ownership and exploitation, service, repair and reuse of goods. Implicit transformation has the potential to increase the overall accessibility to goods and services and to increase local entrepreneurial opportunities, which are value drivers, employment inducers and redistributors of wealth and resources, contributing in a decisive way to equity and social inclusion.