CIRCO across borders: The embassy of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil

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Collaborating cross-border with embassies of the Netherlands is helping the proposition of the CIRCO method towards potential partners. As such, CIRCO has been working successfully with the embassy of the Netherlands in Rio de Janeiro for a number of years now. Local CIRCO trainers have been trained to deliver CIRCO Track programmes themselves this year.

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An interview with Roland Martin, Consul General of the Netherlands in Rio de Janeiro, and Tatiana Chagas, Senior Economic Policy Advisor at the Embassy.

To what extent has Brazil already been working with the concept of circular economy?

“When we first started out with circular economy in 2015, people mainly thought of it in the context of recycling. Concepts like sustainability and the circular economy are still underdeveloped here, which is why our embassy tries to play an encouraging role. A lot needs to happen in terms of awareness, which is why we are delighted that a local business organisation like FIRJAN is taking this on so actively. For example, they are showcasing a permanent exhibition about sustainability and the growing world population. In terms of concrete opportunities, we as an embassy are now focusing on the oil and gas industry, as there are many opportunities in the area of energy transition here.”

What is the role of the embassy in this?

“As an embassy, we particularly play a facilitating role, for example by organising events about circular economy and by introducing parties who might be useful to each other. Ultimately, we hope that the parties will take further steps together.”

How did the embassy get introduced with CIRCO?

“FIRJAN and the embassy started out with the concept of circular economy together in 2015. A small group of sustainability specialists from FIRJAN made a visit to the Netherlands in 2017 and came into contact with CIRCO. In 2018, the embassy, in close consultation with CIRCO, proposed to FIRJAN to start with a ‘Train the Trainer’ concept: to train people at FIRJAN in the CIRCO methodology for them to be able to deliver CIRCO training programmes themselves. In 2018, CIRCO delivered two Track programmes in Rio, including one for companies from the oil and gas industry. In the period that followed, more direct contact was established between CIRCO and FIRJAN, with the embassy’s support where necessary. Recently they signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), formalising the collaboration for the foreseeable future.”

"The CIRCO methodology is highly practical and focuses on solutions that can be implemented by companies straightaway"
Roland MartinConsul General of the Netherlands in Rio de Janeiro

How does the cooperation with CIRCO contribute to your own (circular) ambitions?

“As an embassy, we would like to encourage the development of circular economy in Brazil. The Netherlands is further ahead in this area, which is why we are keen to pass on the knowledge here. At the same time, we want to promote the Netherlands and Dutch companies here in Brazil as innovative, modern and solution-focused. The collaboration with CIRCO and FIRJAN helps us to achieve both objectives. The CIRCO methodology is highly practical and focuses on solutions that can be implemented by companies straightaway. CIRCO demonstrates that circular business models can be both achievable and profitable. Also, we are delighted that FIRJAN has had CIRCO trainers trained locally so they are now able to take it further themselves.”

Are there any concrete examples of Brazilian companies who have already adopted the circularity principles?

“During one of the CIRCO Track programmes here in Rio, an example was discussed about the use of pesticides. This a major concern in the cultivation of fruit and vegetables here. Companies buying pesticides must use it before the use-by date, which is often not achievable, so it remains to be disposed of. During the Track programme, a circular model was developed: companies producing pesticides will buy back what has been left over, reprocess it and then resell it. This is of benefit to everyone: from consumers to companies and farmers. Plus, it is so-called low-hanging fruit which is relatively easy to import. One of the companies attending at the time was a pesticide producer who is now developing a circular business model.”

What are your next steps concerning circular economy?

“We are very glad that CIRCO and FIRJAN signed an MOU, because it means a structural collaboration in the future, facilitated by our embassy. A great collaboration, exactly how we like to see it. The local CIRCO trainers will start next year, a special moment. The embassy will continually promote and stimulate this important topic.”

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