Circular Economy in ASEAN

ASEAN’s economic resilience is increasingly threatened by resource depletion, unsustainable patterns of raw material consumption, inefficiencies throughout product value chains, and climate change. The current economic model of ‘take, make, dispose’ is predisposed towards
wasting valuable materials and resources. ASEAN needs to encourage the adoption of a new economic model that looks beyond the prevalent linear growth model to enhance resource efficiency and attain sustainable growth.

While circular economy initiatives already exist in the AEC, most of the circular economy programmes in ASEAN have been focused on the environmental perspective, with limited role of trade, technological innovations, and financial markets – which are imperatives for accelerating the circular transformation.

ASEAN can take an inclusive approach to policymaking by facilitating active participation from all relevant stakeholders, including the broader public. ASEAN should consider a holistic approach that addresses CE opportunities and challenges from both the supply and demand sides to encourage stakeholder adoption of CE. To ensure continuity and a promising future for the region, all initiatives must be supported by strong capacity-building and educational programmes. To assist businesses in adopting the CE model, ASEAN must prioritise creating a conducive ecosystem for circular products and services.

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Framework for Circular Economy for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC)

The Framework for Circular The economy for the AEC sets out the ambitious long-term vision of the circular economy, building on the strengths of existing ASEAN initiatives, and identifies priority focus areas for action along with enablers to accelerate the realisation of a circular economy in ASEAN.

ASEAN adopted the Framework for Circular Economy for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) at the 20th AEC Council Meeting held on 18 October. The Framework aims to guide ASEAN in achieving its long-term goals of a resilient economy, resource efficiency, and sustainable and inclusive growth.

ASEAN’s transition towards a circular economy hinges on five Strategic Priorities,:

  1. Standard Harmonisation and Mutual Recognition of Circular Products and Services;
  2. Trade Openness and Trade Facilitation in Circular Goods and Services;
  3. Enhanced Role of Innovation, Digitalisation, and Emerging/Green Technologies;
  4. Competitive Sustainable Finance and Innovative ESG Investments; and
  5. Efficient Use of Energy and Other Resources.

Building on existing ASEAN initiatives, the Framework seeks to explore new opportunities and collaborations with other ASEAN pillars, Dialogue Partners, and the private sector, to scale-up and accelerate the region’s transition to low-carbon economy.

The Framework is a priority economic deliverable under Brunei Darussalam’s 2021 ASEAN Chairmanship, and was developed by the ASEAN Secretariat in collaboration with the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).