Press release Circular Economy Conference - Sustainable Flow Management in Agriculture

In December 2016 the Embassy of the Netherlands continued its successful conference series on circular economy. During the second event the main subject was sustainable agriculture.In his openings speech, Ambassador Gajus Scheltema stressed that the transition from a linear to a circular economy will be one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. He added that this can only be accomplished with joined forces, because of the complex effect on ecosystems and macro-economic considerations. Even though the Netherlands may be considered a pioneer in introducing the mindset and innovative applications of a circular economy, a real breakthrough will only be achieved with the help of EU partners, both on a governmental and corporate level. Ambassador Scheltema concluded his speech hoping that “this will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship”, quoting the famous words of Casablanca movie.

Keynote speaker Martin van Nieuwenhoven from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment presented the highlights of the new strategy of the Dutch government for circular economy, particularly regarding agricultural resources. The objectives of this strategy are resoundingly ambitious: by 2050 the Dutch economy has to be 100% circular. To achieve this goal the use of primary sources (metals, fossil fuels, minerals) has to be reduced to 50% in 2030. One of the ways to make this happen is to conclude ‘Green Deals’, where the government sign agreement with entrepreneurial platforms from different material flows. In addition, the government produced different action plans in five separate fields, in order to make this transition possible; biomass and food industry are a part of that.

In name of the Hungarian government, Zsolt Feldman, Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture addressed the public. In his speech he emphasized that for a successful transition to a circular economy further innovation will be needed together with an economically predictable business environment. Further the cooperation between players in the food industry chain and the business sectors must be strengthened. He raised the public’s attention to the so called BIOEAST program of the Ministry of Agriculture started at the end of 2015. The main goal is to sustainably develop knowledge-based agriculture, aquaculture and forestry within biomass-based economy in the Central Eastern European region.

László Tibor Zoltán, Deputy-director of the Ministry of Agriculture in charge of waste management pointed out that the production of secondary raw materials the pursuit of their marketability will not just lead to a reduction in the amount of waste, but shall also on the long term, preserve the natural values of nature, its soils and its resources.

Two Dutch innovative best practices were presented in detail during the conference. First, the energy coordinator of the City of Leeuwarden, Bouwe de Boer, showed how it became possible to use the significant cow breeding industry in the Frisian province to create biogas and to use this energy supply for households and transportation. Furthermore Thomas Mason from the Amsterdam based innovation consultancy firm Metabolic showcased interesting examples of flourishing sustainable nutrient-cycles on a regional scale.

During the panel discussion leaders and researchers of Dutch and Hungarian companies shared their knowledge and experience. Péter Szautner from Friesland Campina Hungary gave examples of how to apply aspects of sustainability and recycling regarding the obtained by-products in a production process and packing material. The company experts did not conceal the fact that on company level as well as on regulatory level much more could be done in order to develop circular economy, but also a radical change of approach and behavior from the consumers is necessary.

Finally, Harm van den Heiligenberg, lecturer at the University of Utrecht, mentioned that they have really positive impressions from the developing environmental and innovative ecosystem start-ups in Budapest. He, for example, very much liked the “Bagshop” (Szatyorbolt). The introductions were followed by an informal discussion where the participants exchanged their points of view, which was a suitable platform to develop bilateral relationships and get to know new business models.   

You can download the presentations on the following link: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B6QUf8lVJB3Wamx1d2h6NDRNWDg?usp=sharing,

and view the photos here: http://dutcham.hu/news/circular-economy-in-agriculture.html.

The Dutch Embassy’s conference series on circular economy will continue in 2017!