UCL to play leading role in world’s first UN backed centre for circular economy research

centre for circular economy research
centre for circular economy research
UCL will partner with four other research institutions to establish a new UN-backed Centre of Excellence, tasked with developing new approaches to the circular economy and resource efficiency.

With a particular focus on resource efficiency of metals, construction and critical materials, the International Centre of Excellence on Sustainable Resource Management in the Circular Economy will pioneer projects that will develop the data, technology, and policy to enable the green transition on a global scale.   

A circular economy is a sustainable model of production and consumption that extends the life cycle of products and resources. As well as reducing emissions and extraction from the natural environment, circular economies also help to protect industry from resource scarcity and price volatility.  

Among its projects, the newly-formed Centre will create three policy placements that will work with the UN to develop and implement the UN Resource Management System (UNRMS), a "Swiss Army knife" to tackle technology and systems challenges for achievement of global sustainability.  

The placements will develop our understanding of the stocks and flows of vital materials and build understanding of how materials are used. 

Professor Julia Stegemann (UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering) said: "We are delighted to be collaborating with four other excellent institutions to help countries around the world achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, by developing the environmental and economic opportunities that the circular economy offers."  

Establishment of the Centre of Excellence in the UK to support implementation of the UNRMS by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) reflects the academic expertise and cutting-edge scientific research from UK scientists in this field.  

UCL’s involvement builds on the University’s long-standing leadership in the field of circular economy in the built environment. Since 2021, Professor Stegemann has been Director of UCL’s Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centre for Mineral-Based Construction Materials , which involves seven co-investigators from across UCL. She has been a founding Director of UCL CircEL  (the Circular Economy Laboratory) since 2015. 

UNECE Executive Secretary Tatiana Molcean said: "Making the use of our resources more sustainable and moving towards a circular economy is fundamental to sustainable development and climate action. Partnerships mobilising international expertise play an important role in UN cooperation to develop and share best practices."  

Formally opening in April 2024, the new Centre for Excellence is a collaboration between UCL, Swansea University, Brunel University, the University of Exeter, and the British Geological Survey.  

The Centre for Excellence will join a small number of other UNECE-backed International Centres for Excellence in Sustainable Resource Management. The UK will be the first to focus on the circular economy. 


    Sophie Hunter 

    sophie.hunter [at] ucl.ac.uk 

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