EREK International Conference - Make it happen with Resource Efficiency!

The EREK International Conference - Make it happen with Resource Efficiency!, took place in Brussels on 25/26 September 2019 at the BEL Conference Centre. The event attracted more than 250 participants from various European countries, representatives of the European Commission, public bodies at the national and regional level, members from academia, industry and business associations and SMEs. 

The EREK international conference demonstrated how successful businesses and industries seek resource efficient solutions, collaborate in a circular and social economy, and pursue digitalisation to gain a competitive edge.

On day one, the conference was opened by Joanna Drake, Deputy Director General for DG Environment, European Commission. After which, keynote speeches were given by:

  • Janez Potocnik, Co-chair, UNEP IRP - United Nations Environment Programme Internaciona Resource panel
  • Bianca Dragomir, European Cluster Manager 2016 - 2018 and CEO of Avaesen, Clean Energy Cluster, Spain. 

The participants also attended a session on the view of Business Support Organisations on resource efficiency, presenting the results of the EREK Workshops in CardiffMadrid, Katowice and the session on "Circular Europe" organised by EREK at the EU Cluster Conference 2019. 

Dr Ulla Engelmann presented the diplomas to the EREK SME Champions, KLIMIS, 4160Tuesdays, MODS, and SEG Umwelt - Service. After that the attendants were divided into 4 parallel sessions: 

  • Boosting resource efficiency in the real economy
  • What does Game of Thrones, Tomorrowland and Carnival have in common? A waste management challenge
    • Learn more about waste at music festivals with our video! 
  • Social businesses and resource efficiency
  •  Digitalisation and Industry 4.0.

On the second day, Ulla Engelmann, Head of Unit for Advanced Technologies, Clusters and Social Economy at DG Grow, European Commission, welcomed the participants. She also officially presented the report on "The implementation of the circular economy in Europe: Perspectives of EU industry cluster managers and regional policymakers".

Following that, Julien Guerrier, Director of the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, EASME, interviewed Veronique Willems, Secretary-General at SMEUnited and Ismo Ulvila, European Commission's lead UNFCCC negotiator on climate finance and chairman 2020 - 21 of the UNFCCC Standing Committee on Finance. 

After that, there was a session on how industrial clusters can enhance and promote the use of clean technologies and resource-efficient activities, a business & policy debate.

The Conference ended with an inspirational talk on the challenges and opportunities ahead: Martina Fromhold - Eisebith, Professor and Chair of Economic Geography at RWTH Aachen Univerity talked about "How can digitalisation support more sustainable, resource-efficient economies and societies? Insights from the WBGU Flagship Report, Towards our common digital future", and Thomas de Romagnoli, Project Manager on Circular Economy at Bruxelles Environment talked about "Circular Economy: challenges and opportunities". 

A short conference video brought the event to a successful end.

The main takeaways:

  • 253 participants from 33 countries;
  • Key actors working on resource efficiency and circular economy across Europe and beyond sharing ideas to a European Green Deal leading to a climate-neutral continent: National and regional environmental agencies, European industry clusters working on environmental technologies, business support services providers, SMEs, academics, students, officials from the European Commission;
  •  The report on the perspectives of EU industry clusters and regional authorities on the circular economy was presented during the conference. Read it here! 
  • Dedicated support, new initiatives, and sustainable partnerships are needed to advance collaboration in specialised themes.
Video of the EREK International Conference