The governance of the circular economy: insights from the Veneto Region

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Over the last decade, the notion of circular economy progressively emerged all over Europe. It can be defined as “the reducing, reusing and recycling activities conducted in the process of production, circulation and consumption” (Ghisellini, Cialani, & Ulgiati, 2016), but also as “a system that is designed to be restorative and regenerative” (Charonis, 2012). It is a popular approach towards green economy and sustainability (Geissdoerfer, Savaget, Bocken, & Hultink, 2017). Circular economy systems are being developed in many countries and contexts, particularly China. There is a growing literature on the various dimensions of the circular economy from many disciplinary perspectives, including planning (Murray, Skene, & Haynes, 2017). However, little attention has been paid to its governance. What is the impact of some variables related to governance, such as actors, actor configurations, collective action, policy instruments, compliance processes, as well as institutional levels and policy sectors, on the development of the circular economy? Are some of these variables more important than others? Through which causal mechanisms do they intervene? To answer these questions, we analyze four cases from the Veneto Region in the materials, building, food and textile sectors. Unlike most of the literature, instead of focusing on the peculiarities of each case, we chose to focus on what they have in common and the interaction of these key variables with the planning and institutional system. The insights were collected through participant observation in the framework of a transdisciplinary collaborative research project.
circular economy, governance, region, comparative, Veneto