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A Deep Demonstration of A Circular, Regenerative and Low-Carbon Economy
The scientific and policy communities strongly agree that the current situation that we are facing constitutes a climate emergency. Continuing to innovate through gradual, incremental changes will not be enough. What is needed now is a fundamental transformation of economic, social and financial systems that will trigger exponential change in decarbonisation rates and strengthen climate resilience – what the IPCC Special Report calls, “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”. The central role of circular economy in climate mitigation has been widely described (for example, in the European Commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan) and its potential for emissions abatement is both substantial and economically attractive. As a cross-cutting topic, circular economy is closely tied to the UN´s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and included in key EU and national documents and strategies such as the “European Green Deal” and the “Slovenian Development Strategy 2030”. The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and its Knowledge & Innovation Communities (KICs) sit at the heart of the EU’s innovation architecture. The EIT KICs are the world’s largest open innovation partnerships aimed at societal challenges. KIC learnings have shown that ‘point’ and ‘incremental’ innovation are not fast or powerful enough to trigger transformative change when addressing climate, sustainability and resource utilization challenges. As such, EIT Climate-KIC (CKIC) is delivering a systemic approach to innovation, harnessing partners from the private, public, knowledge and third sectors, as well as public authorities. Engaging people, as citizens and communities is fundamental to this. Deep Demonstrations (DDs) or “testbeds” are an initiative led by CKIC to drive transformative change. These start with a demand-led approach, with a multi-stakeholder framework committed to zero-net emissions, resilient futures. CKIC matches this demand with supply, bringing the full force of our innovation community to tackle multiple levers of change simultaneously through rapid experiments. DDs are initiating across diverse European regions and cities, such as Glasgow, the Dolomites, the Mondragon Valley, and the cities of Copenhagen, Malmö and Maribor. On the national level, collaboration between the Government of Slovenia and CKIC and EIT RawMaterials started in 2019 to position Slovenia as a European leader in harnessing circularity to transform and decarbonize its economy while fostering a green economy and designing and promoting the smart and circular transition of local communities through a coordinated and coherent national approach based on international best practice. The paper will present and discuss the DD concept and its implementation on various levels with special emphasis on the Slovenian case. The proposal for the strategic national DD project envisages that between 2021 and 2023 a partnership with Slovenian authorities and stakeholders will be established to roll out a portfolio of rapid change to a circular, regenerative and low-carbon economy and society, building on key processes, policies and activities already underway. As a result, wellbeing and prosperity for all Slovenes would be advanced and secured for decades to come and greenhouse gas emissions significantly reduced to support Slovenia in reaching its targets.