Decision-makers share their knowledge of the Circular Economy - and their questions

The Circular Valley® Forum will host numerous representatives from business, science and politics in various formats on November 18th. The representatives will openly discuss challenges and solutions on the way to a true circular economy.
600 decision-makers and experts from politics, industry, science and civil society come together at the Circular Valley® Forum in the Historische Stadthalle Wuppertal. Photo: Lars Langemeier.
DAX executives, ministers, heads of large scientific institutions and managers of important medium-sized companies: although they all regularly engage in conversations on the circular economy bilaterally or at conferences, they rarely engage in discussions in groups as large as at the Circular Valley® Forum on November 18th. Around 600 decision-makers and experts are expected to attend the event, bringing one particularly special feature: transparency in their exchange about the current level and challenges of the circular economy. Six discussion formats are on the agenda at the Circular Valley® Forum. The panels at a glance:

Opening panel: Circular economy is a central topic for the new state government of North Rhine-Westphalia. This is highlighted by the participation of two members of the cabinet: Minister of Economics and Climate Mona Neubaur will give the opening speech of the Forum, and Minister of the Environment Oliver Krischer will present one of the keynotes. In addition, the two will discuss fundamental issues related to the circular economy with company representatives, which will be explored in greater depth during the rest of the day. Their discussion partners will be Liam Condon (CEO Johnson Matthey), who is traveling to visit the Forum from London, Arndt Kirchhoff (Chairman unternehmer nrw), BASF Member of the Board Saori Dubourg, Eckhard Forst (CEO of NRW.BANK) and André and Iris Bovenkamp (Managing Partners of the Huehoco Group).

Technology & science: Research plays a decisive role in the success of the transformation to a circular economy, raising the question of how science and the market can be brought together best. Six guests at the Circular Valley® Forum will discuss how this can be achieved. The science perspective will be explained by Prof. Dr. Walter Leitner (Director at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion and one of the founding fathers of Green Chemistry), Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christian Doetsch (Director Fraunhofer UMSICHT) and Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schurr (Director of IBG-2 Plant Sciences at the Forschungszentrum Jülich). Their counterparts from industry will be Lauren Kjeldsen (member of the Executive Board of Evonik's Nutrition & Care Division), Dr. Dirk Gratzel (CEO of the GreenZero project) and Liam Condon (CEO Johnson Matthey).

Regulation: Good ideas from science and industry need suitable legislative frameworks and conditions. Establishing these, however, involves challenges: Existing standards must leave room for innovation, while at the same time regulation needs to enable sustainable companies to enter the competitive arena in a fair manner. This topic will be explored in depth on November 18th by: the President of the Wuppertal Institute, Prof. Dr. Manfred Fischedick, Arnd Nenstiel (Global Head Stakeholder Affairs of Bayer AG), BASF Member of the Board Saori Dubourg, Natalie Mekelburger (CEO Coroplast Group) and Gunther Wölfges, CEO of Stadtsparkasse Wuppertal, a company that has recognized the global significance of the circular economy from a regional perspective and has therefore been a partner of Circular Valley® from the very beginning.

Communication: As soon as an idea is market-ready and is accompanied by appropriate regulation, the world needs to hear about it. Communication, especially towards consumers, is therefore crucial for achieving a circular economy. The following participants at the Circular Valley® Forum will discuss possible answers to questions on this topic: Dr. Ralf Düssel (Chairman Plastics Europe Germany, Senior Vice President Evonik), Thomas Schmidt (CEO of the Haniel Group), Prof. Dr. Manfred Renner (Director of Fraunhofer UMSICHT), Dr. Thomas Rodemann (Managing Partner of the Vorwerk Group), Dr. Michael Kuhndt (Founder and Director of the Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production) and Markus Hilkenbach, CEO of Wuppertaler Stadtwerke, which has also been a partner of Circular Valley® from the very beginning.

Potentials: The shift towards the circular economy is not only important from an ecological point of view, but it also holds numerous opportunities for companies to develop new products, business lines and revenues. The following guests will discuss how this has already been achieved and how it can be achieved on an even larger scale: Dr. Dorothee Becker (CEO of the Becker Group), Dr. Andreas Eurich (CEO of the Barmenia Insurance Group), the Managing Director of Grüner Punkt and DSD in Germany, Michael Wiener, Dr. Matthias Köhler (Ministerialdirigent at the German Federal Ministry of Economics), Dr. Martin Eisenhut (Managing Partner of the management consultancy Kearney for the German-speaking region) and Andreas Mucke, Managing Director of the Circular Economy Accelerator GmbH.

Closing Panel: The outcomes of the discussions and the broad developments along the path of transformation will be the topic in the final round of the Circular Valley® Forum. This panel will host Sarena Lin (Member of the Board of Bayer AG), Brad Lich (Chief Commercial Officer of the U.S. chemical company Eastman), Dr. Johannes Kirchhoff (CEO of the Kirchhoff Group), Ralf Putsch (Managing Director of the pliers manufacturer Knipex) and Dr. Henning Wilts (Director of the Division Circular Economy the Wuppertal Institute).

The forum is organized by the Circular Valley® Foundation. For the foundation, the Forum represents the highlight in its still very young history. The Foundation was founded about a year and a half ago with goal of establishing the wider Rhine-Ruhr region as the hotspot for the global circular economy; a place that is to the circular economy what Silicon Valley is to the digital economy. To this end, the Circular Valley® Foundation engages in three ways: it promotes the best international startups in its Circular Economy Accelerator, it provides policymakers with important insights from the circular economy, and it informs citizens how they can do their part to protect our planet.

To learn more about the Circular Valley Forum, visit:
If you are a member of the media and would like to attend the Circular Valley® Forum conference, please contact us at presse@circular-valley.org. If you have any interview requests for the day, please contact us and we will be happy to arrange them with Forum participants.