Gareth Ward, the British Consul General in St Petersburg, opened the business round-table on the circular economy by saying how this is an area for UK – Russia exchange in sharing ideas. “There is a knowledge partnership between the UK and Russia, and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation can set the agenda for this partnership.” Describing how we can learn from a new analysis of how we design products he expressed the hope that “We will see the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in Russia for a long time to come.”
The round-table was generously hosted by Price Waterhouse Cooper, and addressed by Ken Webster (Head of Innovation at the Foundation) and Ekaterina Kulikova, Cradle-to-Cradle consultant at Desso, Moscow. Over 50 people from industry and commerce were present, with most of the participants being men, unlike at the previous sessions which were mainly attended by women in their 20s and 30s. Many were interested in how the transition to a circular economy would open whole, new areas of opportunity for job creation and investment, but a few (mainly older) participants were still preoccupied with the very real problems of toxic waste, the outcome of years of a linear economy.
The round-table brought to the surface the challenges of developing circular economy thinking in this part of Russia. Younger people readily see it as a huge and exciting opportunity. This has been reflected in the response of some in higher education. We have started discussion on how to introduce this into masters level programmes in engineering and quality control at the University of Finance and Economics. Watch this space ….