Circular Economy for SDGs

Virtual Side Event to the United Nations ECOSOC Partnership Forum 2024

Remote | 30 January 2024

"Circular Economy for SDGs: Inspiring Transformations Towards Sustainable, Resilient, and Innovative Solutions" is a virtual side event co-organized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and Think Tank AlterContacts, an NGO in Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC. It will present the circular economy as a holistic framework that reinforces the principles of the 2030 Agenda, addressing poverty eradication, resilience, and innovation in the face of multiple crises.

To read the Full Report of the event press here

Who will attend

This interactive online event will bring together participants across different languages, geographies, and sectors, including academia, the private sector, NGOs, and governments. The composition of the event will be gender-balanced (both female and male); intergenerational (featuring youth facilitators, as well as people with more than three decades of experience); and equal (we will be inviting facilitators with special needs as well).


Guided by the experts from AlterContacts, UNCTAD and Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, the participants will exchange ideas and explore how circular economy can help the global community eradicate poverty (SDG 1), end hunger (SDG 2), combat climate change (SDG 13), promote peaceful societies (SDG 16), and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development (SDG 17).


The circular economy enhances the resilience of communities and economies by promoting regenerative and restorative practices. This resilience is vital in times of multiple crises, providing a buffer against resource shortages, economic shocks, and environmental degradation. Circular systems enable quicker recovery and adaptation to changing circumstances.

SDG Targets in Focus

More specifically, the event will focus on the role of circular economy in achieving the following targets:


The format of the side event will include two parts: formal (8:15-9:30 AM New York time) and informal (9:30-10:00 AM New York time).

During the formal part, there will be a panel discussion among representatives of academia, civil society, and the private sector showcasing inspirational examples of how the Circular Economy can drive the transformations toward SDGs. The panel discussion will have three segments, dedicated to the theory and practical examples of Multi-Stakeholder Partnership, Mindset Change, and Investment respectively. Each will be introduced by the UNCTAD experts on Circular Economy. The participants will be invited to ask their questions through the chat. 

The informal part of the event will be dedicated to networking among participants. It will start right after the panel discussion. It will be your opportunity to meet fellow professionals from the field of Circular Economy, exchange ideas, and make valuable connections.

Watch the recording of the event here:

Image source: UNCTAD

The UNCTAD experts will share the findings of their work on the circular economy at the national and multilateral level, where they highlight three key enablers that frame the program of this event: 

Press here to read the UNCTAD report: Entrepreneurs riding the wave of circularity

kilometro circular, circular kilometer

Kilometro Circular - Blue KmC² Living Labs network

A network of universities, governmental agencies, NGOs and private organizations participate in a multi-stakeholder SDG Action that aims to create a sustainable, and prosperous community within one square kilometer of land, regardless of whether it is located in an urban, rural, or coastal area by making them fully circular. Press here to explore the initiative

Composition of rural scenes and actors

mOther Earth

SDG Acceleration Action #46967 led by AlterContacts, dedicated to rural development and creating self-sufficient communities driven by youth and female entrepreneurs. Press here to view the report of SDG Action #46967

The virtual side event is part of the ECOSOC Partnership Forum 2024 and is aligned with the upcoming High-level Political Segment of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. 


As a result of this side event, the participants will be invited to announce specific actions they would like to undertake together in order to contribute to the SDGs under review at the HLPF and the main theme of the 2024 Partnership Forum “Reinforcing the 2030 Agenda and eradicating poverty in times of multiple crises: the effective delivery of sustainable, resilient and innovative solutions”.

About the Organizers

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) supports developing countries to access the benefits of a globalized economy more fairly and effectively. They help equip them to deal with the potential drawbacks of greater economic integration. To do this, UNCTAD provides analysis, facilitates consensus-building, and offers technical assistance. This helps them to use trade, investment, finance, and technology as vehicles for inclusive and sustainable development.

Think Tank AlterContacts, a global think tank for sustainable development in Special Consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council since 2022. It is based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, with more than 300 experts on a variety of disciplines in 42 countries. It functions as a virtual laboratory for civil society ideas on sustainable development, helping communities to become more resourceful, and shorten the path to a more prosperous world. The SDG Partnerships of AlterContacts are registered in the United Nations and awarded by the European Parliament.


Arlette Verploegh Chabot

Chief, Entrepreneurship Development, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

Arlette is heading the work on entrepreneurship development, with extensive experience in designing high-level development projects that are internationally recognized as innovative approaches to sustainable development goals. Previously, she was deputy chief of staff and head of communications and external relations, boosting the organization’s worldwide visibility, and developing high-profile partnerships with global leaders, while making trade and development more accessible to a diverse range of stakeholders. In 2016, she launched the UNCTAD Youth Network with the unique approach of “for youth, with youth” with an ever-growing number of youth initiatives worldwide, including the Youth Action Hubs.

Lorenzo Tosini

Programme Officer, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

Lorenzo is a Programme Officer in the Division on Investment and Enterprise of UNCTAD, where he works to support developing countries and economies in transition in the implementation of technical assistance projects to promote entrepreneurship and SME development. He is in charge of Empretec and Business Linkages UNCTAD’s technical assistance programmes in Africa and is coordinating the global network of Empretec centres. He is also working on the standardization of training materials.

Zarja Vojta

Enterprise Development Officer, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

Zarja is a communication strategist and project coordinator, working with digital entrepreneurs to better leverage new opportunities of the digital economy and create solutions to global challenges in a human-centric way. She’s been actively advancing youth-focused projects in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, organizing international events on trade and development issues along with skill-building programs for youth and digital entrepreneurs. An anthropologist at heart, she is interested in corporate transformation and streamlining innovation processes to advance technological change in developing countries.

Jose Antonio Sanchez

Associate Economic Affairs Officer, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

Jose Antonio works in the Division on Investment and Enterprise of UNCTAD, supporting countries to design National Strategies to develop entrepreneurship while focusing on five key pillars, namely optimizing the regulatory environment, enhancing entrepreneurship education and skills development, facilitating technology exchange and innovation, improving access to finance, and promoting awareness and networking. He holds a Masters in Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility and has previously worked at the UN Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean, UNED University, the Spanish Ministry of Trade, AECID and Ford of Europe.

Dr. Pedro Fernandez Carrasco

Professor at the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid in the department of hydraulic, energy and environmental studies. He is the founder of Bio Ocean Solutions Hub and the leader of the Kilometro Circular - Blue KmC² Living Labs Network, an initiative that may evolve into a new paradigm for the design of sustainable human settlements and circular rural+coastal urbanism. 

Dr. Elisa Pozo Menéndez

PhD, Co-founder of mita atelier, researcher at Matia Institute Spain

Doctor in Architecture from the Polytechnic University of Madrid (2023). She is a co-author of the "Guide for Planning Healthy Cities," published by the Ministry of Health and the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces. She actively contributes to scientific articles, book chapters, and presentations at national and international conferences. Collaborating with Lucia Bentué, she co-founded mita atelier, sharing a common vision on the positive impact of the built environment on health outcomes. At Matia Institute, her focus is on transforming environments to foster inclusive and homely spaces that enhance quality of life, interaction, and participation. In 2022, she earned recognition in the 35 under 35 ranking by the Madrid World Capital Construction Association and Global Shapers Madrid for her contributions to promoting young talent in architecture and engineering. In 2020, she received the third Young Talent-Carné Joven award in the Solidarity category from the Community of Madrid, acknowledging her efforts in supporting the elderly in the Usera district.

Cristina Morataya

Director General of Vekpower S.A de C.V, an active member of the El Salvador GBC. In her current role, she contributes to the growth of VEKPOWER through strategic alliances, brand representation, and aligning daily operations with the sustainable development goals set by the company. She holds a Master's in Education and a Master's in Smart Urban Infrastructures and Sustainable Urban Planning: Smart Cities, from EADIC. She is an External auditor for Energy Management programs, specializing in photovoltaic systems, Climate Change, Circular Economy, and other sustainability-related topics. Cristina holds a comprehensive certification in Electromobility (Introduction, Technologies, Policies, and Business). She specializes in sustainable urban mobility: planning and management, certified by the Open School of Development in Engineering and Construction (EADIC). Currently, she is pursuing a PhD at the Polytechnic University of Madrid.

Andrés Romero

Mentu, Paraguay

Andrés Romero, a graduate in Economics from the National University of Asunción, serves as an Economic Consultant at MENTU. In this role, he leads social projects focused on sustainability, circular economy, and formalization, while also providing economic and financial consulting to private sector institutions, civil society, and international organizations.

Ellen Gearon

Fifty Shades Greener, Ireland

With an academic foundation comprising an Undergraduate degree in Zoology and a master’s degree in Sustainable Development, Ellen presently works in Education and Content Development with Fifty Shades Greener, an Environmental Education company based in Ireland. Her prior engagement with youth at ECO-UNESCO, specifically in Climate Justice-related topics, reflects her commitment to fostering environmental awareness. Ellen harbours a profound passion for ecosystem restoration and wildlife conservation, which permeates every facet of her work. Her ultimate objective is to inspire and empower individuals and organizations, facilitating informed decisions that positively influence both the environment and society.

Rui Alberto Baptista da Luz

German Federal Association for Sustainability

As a Coordinator Erasmus+ at German Federal Association for Sustainability, Rui leads and manages projects that promote and implement Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) across Europe. He builds and maintains networks and partnerships with various stakeholders, including educational institutions, civil society organizations, and policy makers, to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). ESD is not only his professional field, but also his passion and motivation. Rui holds a degree in International Relations, where he focused on global environmental and social issues. He has a background in Philosophy, having studied at different universities in Portugal and Spain. Through his academic and professional experiences, Rui has developed a critical and holistic perspective on sustainability, and a commitment to fostering a carbon-neutral economy and society.

Dr. H. Shellae Versey

Dr. Versey is a social psychologist and epidemiologist. Broadly, she studies the impact of changing places on an aging society. As such, she examines land and zoning policies alongside community-level factors (built environment, social networks, neighborhood) that contribute to aging outcomes. She represents the KmC2 Living Lab of Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan in the Bronx, New York.

Dorothea Tomazos

Expert in Maritime Law and international finance, but also an entrepreneur. Founder and CEO of Eco Wave Dynamis. She is preparing to create a new Kilometro Circular Living Lab in Icaria, the island with the highest wave and wind power potential in the Aegean Sea

Nikolas Fahlskog

Innovation Catalyzer, The Netherlands

Nikolas is a purpose-driven innovation leader with over 15 years of experience in developing and scaling breakthrough products and services for the betterment of people and the planet. He possesses diverse expertise in strategy, innovation, design, digital transformation, and product marketing. Nikolas utilizes design thinking and agile methods to drive innovation, delivering value and impact. Nikolas has a passion for creating and facilitating workshops that help teams and companies envision a desirable future, enabling significant progress and delivery.

Nadiah Hanim Abdul Latif

Nadiah is the President of the Malaysian Rare Disorders Society, the Head of Strategy, Programs & Partnerships at GoTo Impact Foundation, Co-founder of social enterprises, OpiS International and Play Unlimited, an Anchor with Bernama News Channel, the Regional Representative for Southeast Asia, Oman, Qatar and South Korea for the Phelan McDermid Syndrome (PMS) Foundation, an Assistant Child Protector for the Petaling District and a Children’s Court Advisor for Petaling Jaya. A strategic advocacy professional committed to bringing stakeholders together to tackle the intersectionality of cross cutting issues from sustainability, business & human rights, to social impact concerns such as child rights and protection, access to universal health coverage and disability resources, Nadiah has been involved in driving advocacy and policy efforts both in Malaysia and abroad.


Julia K. Skupchenko

Co-founder and Head of SDG Partnerships, Think Tank AlterContacts. 

Award-winning Entrepreneur and Sustainability Practitioner. She specializes in facilitating remote engagement and community activation and scaling audacious social impact initiatives. Under her leadership, the think tank deserved recognition from the United Nations and the European Parliament. She is a registered Expert on Rural Development and Sustainability for the European Commission. Author of 50+ articles on sustainable entrepreneurship and social innovation, incl. for Barents Encyclopedia and Entrepreneur magazine. Facilitator and guest speaker at 100+ conferences, including the United Nations MSMEs Day 2021. In 2022 and 2020 she was awarded Gold as Hero of the Year: Helping others during COVID. In 2021 she was awarded Gold as the Mentor of the Year and Female Thought Leader of the Year. 

Massimo Mercuri

Co-founder and Chairman, Think Tank AlterContacts

awarded innovator and sustainability expert with a 30-year career across three continents. Leading sustainable solutions and social entrepreneurship, he excels as a facilitator, system thinker, and problem solver. Massimo's diverse experience spans digital development, advanced materials, nutrition, life sciences, maritime logistics, hospitality, automotive, energy, global telecommunication networks, and strategic computing. In his role at AlterContacts, he builds strategic alliances, coordinates UN SDG partnerships, and contributes to EU projects. Massimo's unwavering commitment to innovation, sustainability, and education drives transformative change for a healthier, more prosperous planet.