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03 October 2023

UAE’s advanced circular economy opens bilateral cooperation opportunities: Finnish diplomat


The UAE's circular economy infrastructure is the most developed in the Gulf region, which opens many interesting opportunities for bilateral cooperation with Finland, a senior Finnish diplomat told the Emirates News Agency (WAM).

“Both Finland and the UAE have a shared vision in developing a more sustainable future. We see great potential to increase our collaboration in areas such as waste management, waste-to-energy, waste-to fuel projects, and digitalisation of the circular economy sector,” said Anne Vasara, the Ambassador for Circular Economy and Energy at Department of International Trade in the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

A circular economy keeps materials, products, and services in circulation for as long possible through sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling. In practice, it implies reducing waste to a minimum.

New opportunities

About the UAE’s developed circular economy infrastructure, she pointed out that the waste recycling rate in the Emirate is already higher than other countries in the region.

“We are glad to know that UAE is committed to the green transition, developing its circular economy model, and having many circular economy projects under planning. This opens many interesting cooperation opportunities. New business opportunities are also growing in the areas of material recycling and reuse as the circular economy sector grows and expands to new areas,” she explained.

The diplomat spoke to WAM during a media tour to Helsinki last week, organised by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Senior journalists from nine media outlets, including WAM, from nine countries across the world were invited to the media trip named “Climate solutions from Finland”.

Crucial COP28

Ambassador Vasara pointed out that the UAE will have an important role as the host of the next COP28, the UN Climate Conference to be held in Dubai by the end of this year.

Combatting climate change requires a vast set of measures and the transition to a circular economy at the global scale is a key one that needs to be accelerated dramatically to help address climate change, biodiversity loss and over-consumption of natural resources, she said.

“After promising decisions at COP15 on biodiversity, hopefully good progress will emerge next in the COP28,” the envoy said.

Finish circular economy initiatives

Finland has been a front runner in circular economy since the creation of the first national circular economy roadmap in 2016, Vasara said.

The interesting areas, where Finland shines as one of the leading countries in Europe, are the eco-innovations, sustainable solutions, and energy efficient technologies, she emphasised. Finland continues to invest heavily in clean technologies, sustainable bio-economy and circular economy, the diplomat added.

“Circular economy is a vision for a more resilient economy, which redefines and unlocks new growth by giving us more from what we have. Circular economy makes sense, economically as well as in everyday practice.”

Plastics road map

About the Finnish Plastics Road Map published in 2018, the envoy said it has paved the way for Finland to be one of the pioneer countries in combating the plastics challenge.

“We have gathered the actors from public and private sectors and academia into a network that comprises of all stages and actors of the plastic life cycle (the entire value network), which facilitates tackling the issue, and at the same time allows for common innovative approaches. In Finland, the EU legislation is certainly a strong driver, but voluntary measures have also been introduced in the form of green deal agreements,” Vasara explained.

Still, the progress in this regard gets challenged by the same issues encountered in most highly developed societies, where the consumption patterns favour single use plastics, and the recycling of plastics still needs to improve, she pointed out.


However, a lot of progress and innovation is taking place, and an increasing number of alternatives to plastics, bio-based materials such as cellulose based bioplastics and composites, are being developed by Finnish innovative companies, the diplomat said.

Finnish companies also propose solutions and technology for the international market for various stages of the life cycle and different ways for collecting and recycling plastics. An important segment to mention is the sustainable alternatives for packaging as well as for the construction sector, the ambassador said.