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International Partnerships
News announcement16 April 2024Directorate-General for International Partnerships3 min read

Global Gateway: EU announces new EU Circular Economy Resource Centre and SWITCH to Circular Economy in East and Southern Africa programme to accelerate global transition

Participation of Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner, in the World Circular Economy Forum

During the World Circular Economy Forum 2024, European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen announced two initiatives aimed at advancing circular economy globally.

The establishment of the EU Circular Economy Resource Centre under the Global Gateway strategy will facilitate peer-to-peer exchanges and partnerships between EU and third-country stakeholders, fostering the uptake of sound circular economy policies and business models worldwide. The Commissioner announced a €15 million commitment from the European Commission.

In addition, Commissioner Urpilainen launched the "SWITCH to Circular Economy in East and Southern Africa” programme. The European Commission will contribute €40 million over five years to this programme, which will promote the transition to circular economies. It will focus on capacity building, policy support, and improved access to finance, particularly targeting the packaging and plastic waste as well as the electronics and e-waste value chains.

Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said: “No one can predict the future, but that does not stop us from impacting it. It is possible to make circularity the next megatrend. The vision behind the Circular Economy Resource Centre is to share policy and business know-how and best practices with partner countries. This is also in line with the ambitions of the SWITCH to Circular Economy in East and Southern Africa programme, a great initiative increasing circularity in key value chains, and I am glad we can now deploy it in these regions in Africa. It is part of our positive offer Global Gateway, and consistent with our enhanced engagement with African partners.”

About the EU Circular Economy Resource Centre

The EU Circular Economy Resource Centre embodies EU’s commitment to advancing circularity on a global scale and facilitating the transition towards sustainable, climate-neutral societies. The four-year action will mobilise EU Circular Economy know-how, policies and standards, technologies, business models and practices, to promote learning and exchanges with partners in the Neighbourhood, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. It intends to set up:

  • A Circular Economy Knowledge Lab that documents and consolidates EU circular economy knowhow from partner country lenses and makes it available to partner country stakeholders through a knowledge platform and helpdesk, dialogue and exchange of experiences, good practices, learnings, and innovative approaches.
  • A Circular Economy Policy Lab offering assistance on policy and regulatory matters through technical assistance, exchange of best practices and acceleration programmes to inspire policy and regulatory development.
  • A Circular Economy Business Lab, supporting partner country businesses to go circular, through peer-to-peer exchanges, circular economy market outlooks, and benchmarking assessments. It will also showcase innovative circular solutions and facilitating matchmaking with EU companies, with special attention to women and youth entrepreneurs.

The European Commission has been designing this initiative working with partners including the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra and the Belgian Development Agency ENABEL. Implementation is due to start before end of 2024. 

About the SWITCH to Circular Economy in East and Southern Africa (SWITCH-2-CE in ESA) programme

Building on EU’s commitments and work at global level, the programme intends to reinforce partners’ support in fostering an inclusive transition to circular economy in East and Southern Africa. The activities will contribute to mitigation of climate change by promoting green and circular business models in packaging and plastic waste, as well electronics and e-waste value chains.

Following a South-South Twinning approach, the SWITCH-2-CE in ESA programme will entail:

  • Policy, regulatory and business enabling environment
  • Capacity building and human development
  • Access to finance through a matching grant facility (MGF) for young start-ups and SMEs. The MGF is also accessible to invest in joint ventures between African and European companies.

The European Commission is launching this programme in collaboration with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) organisation.


The EU Circular Economy Resource Centre financed under EU’s Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) – Global Europe Programme, will promote learning and exchanges with partner countries towards accelerating the global transition to the Circular Economy.

The Global Europe Instrument for the period 2021-2027, which integrated the Green Deal as one of the key EU policy priorities, has helped scaling up our support. On circular economy, the EU has committed some €1.6 billion (2021-2023) to over 75 actions contributing to support the circular economy transition at country, regional and global levels. In 2023 alone, over 100 partner countries have benefited from EU support to promote a circular transition of their economies.

The initiatives align with the objectives of the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) which seeks to reduce consumption footprints and double Europe’s circular material use rate within the next decade, in line with the goals of the European Green Deal.


Publication date
16 April 2024
Directorate-General for International Partnerships