Duco de Mol van Otterloo is a broadly experienced professional focused on making the future circular. He has a LLM in Business Law, by Leiden University, and his work as Project Lead Circular Jobs Initiative for Circle Economy allowed him to manage projects that support businesses and governments to accelerate the transition to a circular economy, by guiding them on how to best leverage their workforce. He also has experience working as Program Manager at Randstad Groep Nederland, where he was able to lead and develope interdisciplinary project teams and nation-wide marketing campaigns, amongst other achievements.
CIRCLE ECONOMY OF AMSTERDAM (NETHERLANDS)
Circle Economy is a nonprofit organization that relies in part on the support of philanthropic partners to carry out the work they do. The mission of the “Circular Economy” is to accelerate the practical and scalable implementation of the Circular Economy. At “Circle Economy”, they believe in a visionary future for our planet. As an impact organization, they connect and empower a global community to create the conditions for systemic transformation. The “Circular Economy” has nature as its mentor, they work together with companies, cities and governments to identify opportunities to transition to the circular economy and provide a powerful combination of practical and scalable solutions to turn these opportunities into reality. The mission of this organization is to empower a global community of companies, cities and governments to accelerate the transition to the circular economy through ideas and practical and scalable solutions to challenges greater than the direction of humanity.
To this end, they make use of digital technology to accelerate and scale the circular economy process. The organization’s vision is to create a future in which anyone driving the circular economy has access to the data and knowledge they need to make responsible and informed decisions.
That is why data must be more accessible in all sectors and regions, creating knowledge channels for its dissemination. Governments and companies around the world are demanding more and more knowledge to accelerate their transition to the circular economy. To respond to demand, they think, a common understanding of circularity, economics, and impact must first be created by aligning measurements, evidence, and efforts.
To make sure they can start using that data, they are building the “Global Data Alliance,” which is a network of companies, public and research institutions, multilateral organizations, and circular expert organizations. The “Global Data Alliance” works for the aggregation of information and data, structures knowledge and allows the exchange of information and best practices for states, cities, companies and communities around the world.
The data collected through the Global Data Alliance will drive an integrative and multidisciplinary approach to analysis, measurement, decision-making and action planning. It also establishes the Tool Database, aimed at helping everyone take tangible practical steps towards more sustainable practices, designed and developed with and for the people who make change possible on the ground.
INTERVIEW WITH DUCO DE MOL VAN OTTERLOO
The Circular Economy as one of the greatest exponents of the resilience of cities, since it represents a new model of economic and social development, which identifies a series of processes in our economy in relation to the production, consumption and recycling of products that In order to respect and repair natural resources, we use the renewal and reuse of products and their components.
But above all, the circular economy is also a concept that has to do with the economy, which is interrelated with sustainability, and whose mission is that the value of products, materials and resources (water, energy…) remain in the economy. as long as necessary. possible and minimize waste generation.
In this context, knowing the impact that circular employment has on the economic and social process acquires special importance.
As in the digital revolution, it has come without us noticing to change our lives and also the labor market, the circular economy, by paying attention to the environment and investing in nature, has enough entity to create new jobs. We have an example of this in the waste sector, which represents an important opportunity for job creation.
1. What is the vision of the Circle Economy on the creation of circular jobs?
– A shift to a circular economy will impact labour markets around the world: while some jobs will disappear or change in nature, new ‘circular jobs’ will emerge. Certain combinations of skills will become more important, and workers and employers will be required to develop new mindsets and skills to adapt to changing environments. The circular economy requires manual and practical labour, just as it requires highly skilled work in the design and engineering of new solutions. If managed well, the circular economy, therefore, has the potential to create opportunities for all types of workers.
– To prevent that we are ‘too late’ – just like in the energy transition, for example – in gaining insight into which jobs and skills we will need, how we can ensure that everyone has the right skills on time and the quality of work is also guaranteed, companies, governments, social partners and educational institutions must now get to work, together.
2. In addition to the waste sector, what other jobs are already part of the circular economy?
– As we see it, a circular job is any occupation that directly involves or indirectly supports one of the strategies of the circular economy. We differentiate between three types of circular jobs: core, enabling and indirectly circular jobs. Core circular jobs are all jobs that ensure the closure of raw material cycles, including jobs in repair, renewable energy, waste and resource management. They form the core of the circular economy. Enabling circular jobs are jobs that remove barriers for and enable the acceleration and upscaling of core circular activities, including jobs that arise in leasing, education, design and digital technology. They form the supporting shell of the circular economy. Jobs that indirectly uphold the circular economy are called indirectly circular jobs. These jobs occur in other sectors that do not play a direct role in furthering the transition to the circular economy but can still adopt circular strategies. They include jobs that provide services to core circular strategies, including jobs in information services, logistics and the public sector.
3. Where are these jobs located?
– In our Circular Jobs Monitor (CJM) you can see at the municipal level which type of circular jobs are located where and with what number. Then you also see that these are actually everywhere!
4. How are these jobs distributed across sectors and how do they relate to circular strategies?
– See previous description of the core, enabling and indirectly circular jobs. This goes across different sectors. We use the so-called The Key Elements framework. This is a conceptual framework of eight elements of circularity that can be applied at different intervention levels (for example, national, regional, sector, business, product, process, or material) towards a circular economy. The KE framework consists of three core elements and five enabling elements. Core elements deal with physical flows directly, whilst enabling elements deal with creating the conditions or removing barriers, for a circular transition.
Circle Economy and the United Nations Environment Program jointly lead the tool called “Circular Jobs Monitor”
5. Could you explain to us what this initiative consists of?
– As mentioned earlier, the CJM is a tool that provides insight into which circular jobs are located where, and with what number. Up to the municipal level! In collaboration with UNEP, we have just been able to add 100+ cities to the monitor, so that you can gain insight into the circular jobs from Cartagena to Lisbon to Cairo.
6. Who can benefit from the tool?
– Policymakers can use this tool as a starting point to define which sectors should be included in circular strategy development and to monitor the progress of circular economy policies and their impact on the labour market when data is updated regularly.
– Furthermore, economists, labour organisations and social partners can use this tool to access data, understand the geographic distribution of circular jobs, align their efforts with the skills needs of different regions, industries and sectors, and attain a baseline for defining sectors for scenario modelling
7. Can you tell us what methodology you use?
– As mentioned earlier, we’re using the Key Elements of the Circular Economy Framework.
Circular employment can be key to the systemic transformation of cities because it is in these where this process of change will take place.
8. What do you think is needed to better understand the obstacles and opportunities related to the circular employment challenge?
– First of all, I see that there is still insufficient knowledge of what the circular economy is and how one’s own organization can relate to it. It remains a bit of a diffuse concept and we all have to recognize that not everything is clear, we still have a lot to discover. That is why I am not such a proponent of the term circular skills and circular jobs. I understand that this is still necessary to distinguish in some way and have a little focus, but you actually want all jobs to be circular. So we shouldn’t make it too complicated. We don’t really need new skills, but we have to work in a different way. It is much more about the mindset: eliminate waste.
Adequate training is key for the transition from a linear economy to a circular one.
9. Could you tell us about some of the training actions that Circle Economy is carrying out?
– We provide various (tailor-made) training courses to companies and governments. In doing so, we always emphasize making the circular economy as practical as possible, so that the participants can get started with it right away.
10.From your perspective, could you tell us what is the degree of implementation of circular employment in the Netherlands?
– The Netherlands is a circular frontrunner and you notice that the necessity of the circular economy is becoming clear to more and more people. Various programs are being set up to improve cooperation between educational institutions, companies and (local) governments, in order to look together at how the circular economy can be given a boost. It takes a lot of time and we are not there yet, but the will is there. What we find very important is that this is accompanied by a pursuit of high-quality work and that the transition also takes place in an inclusive way. Everyone should be able to participate!