Mona Neubaur at the Circular Valley Forum
Photo: Circular Valley® - Jan Turek
Circular Valley®
becomes even more international

The initiative for a true circular economy expanded its global commitment in several ways at the Circular Valley® Forum: with ambassadors from different continents, prominent political support - and a special gesture from Flanders, Belgium.
Internationality has been a hallmark of Circular Valley® since its foundation in the summer of 2021: more than 60 startups from five continents have since participated in the Circular Economy Initiative's accelerator program, creating a global network of like-minded people. Nevertheless, at the first Circular Valley® Forum the initiative surprised its guests with an even greater international outlook.

During this large conference on the circular economy, two connecting points with the German government became apparent. In a video message to the approximately 600 Forum guests, Federal Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger emphasized the common interests of the Federal government in Berlin and the wider Rhine-Ruhr region:
With the Circular Valley® initiative, you strive to be a pacemaker for the circular economy, setting impulses for our country, but also beyond.
Bettina Stark-Watzinger, Federal Research Minister
The German government, in turn, is currently bundling all activities in a "circular economy strategy." "We want to be pioneers in Europe," she said.
Jürgen Hingsen, Mona Neubaur, Christian Keller, Carsten Gerhardt, Kathrin Berner
Photo: Circular Valley® - Jan Turek

Looking beyond the European continent, Circular Valley® is intensifying its cooperation with the German Society for International Cooperation, an organization acting on behalf of various federal ministries in development policy. Joint appointments have already been arranged for the coming weeks to continue what began with Minister Svenja Schulze's visit to Circular Valley® in August. During her visit, Schulze met numerous startups and explained that she sees the circular economy as an important lever for a socially just transformation with new and fair jobs, as well as for achieving the environmental and development agendas.

Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon provided a special gesture at the Circular Valley® Forum. He explained why his region, North-Rhine-Westphalia and the Netherlands have a good tradition of cross-border cooperation and offer ideal conditions for a European center for the circular economy. Janbon expressed his great interest in continuing and deepening this cooperation. "I extend my hand to North Rhine-Westphalia," Jambon said, announcing a declaration of intent between Flanders and Germany's most populous state.
I extend my hand to North Rhine-Westphalia
Jan Jambon, Flemish Prime Minister
Janbon found ideal addressees for his message at the Circular Valley® Forum on November 18th. Three cabinet members from the North Rhine-Westphalia state government were represented: Mona Neubaur, Deputy Minister President and Minister of Economics and Climate, Nathanael Liminski, Minister for Federal and European Affairs, International Affairs and Media as well as Head of the State Chancellery and Environment and Transport Minister Oliver Krischer.
Carsten Gerhardt, Mona Neubaur
Photo: Stefan Fries

Neubaur called the circular economy an "enormous opportunity for the economic and industrial state of North Rhine-Westphalia." She, too, had visited startups in Circular Valley® in summer, where she witnessed the close connection between international founders and the local ecosystem in Circular Valley®. The Minister of Economics was very optimistic about the continuation of these successes.
For the indispensable transformation from a linear to a circular economy, Circular Valley® is "exactly the right answer."
Mona Neubaur, Deputy Minister President and Minister of Economics and Climate of NRW
Minister Liminski praised Circular Valley®'s networking efforts as being "excellent." Liminiski highlighted the fact that Circular Valley® brings together small and large companies that would otherwise not find together as easily.
Nathanael Liminski
Photo: Circular Valley® - Jan Turek
He further emphasized that the state government was very interested in "implementing the project on a large scale" and not limiting it to solely North Rhine-Westphalia.
Nathanael Liminski, Minister for Federal and European Affairs, International Affairs and Media of NRW
For this reason, the forum places a "very great emphasis on making this cross-border".

Oliver Krischer
Photo: Circular Valley® - Jan Turek

Environment Minister Krischer called the forum "very inspiring." A large part of today's emissions and the loss of biodiversity can be traced back to the linear economy. A circular economy is therefore "necessary and inevitable." So far, the transformation has taken too long, he said, and more speed needs to be brought to the issue.

To this end, the new ambassadors of the Circular Valley® can be of great support. Jasmin Bumanowski from Lufthansa was introduced at the forum as a representative for the African continent, which she knows very well. She would like to further increase the share of African startups in Circular Valley®. In addition, participants from the previous three rounds of the funding program have stated that they will use their experiences to connect other startups from their countries with the initiative in the Rhine-Ruhr region. Kaif Ali, a 22-year-old entrepreneur from New Delhi in India, underlined his enthusiasm with an English-German phrase: "I'm a Wuppertaler now."

Other guests who are known and on the move around the world will also be able toreport on their impressions of Circular Valley: Klaus Töpfer as well as the action artist HA Schult.

Marc-Oliver Pahl, Klaus Töpfer
Photo: Circular Valley® - Jan Turek

As Federal Minister for the Environment, Töpfer played a major role in turning the ideas of the German Grüner Punkt recycling system and the Dual System into reality. Today, he is therefore considered one of the fathers of the circular economy. He continued this work as a director at the United Nations, and even at the age of 84, he has lost none of his enthusiasm for the subject.

Circular economy doesn't start with recycling. We have to think of products in such a way that they can be recycled and have a longer life.
Klaus Töpfer, the father of the circular economy
Despite all the setbacks and the ever-increasing urgency for solutions, Töpfer is optimistic about the future. "When you're 84 years old and have done this all your life, you can't even imagine pessimism. But I'm not optimistic for optimism's sake, but because that's exactly how good ideas move forward."
HA Schult, Klaus Töpfer
Photo: Stefan Fries
HA Schult had brought 300 members of his Trash People with him to Wuppertal. With these life-size figures made of waste, he travels all over the world to demonstrate global littering. The Trash People have already stood in front of pyramids, on the Great Wall of China, on the Red Square in Moscow, in the Arctic - and now in Circular Valley®.
Circular Valley®, the spring of fresh thinking that sets out from Wuppertal into the world, shows us new positions in dealing with the preservation of our planet. The planet that we have only leased and are in the process of turning into Trash Planet Earth.
HA Schult
He said goodbye to the guests of the forum succinctly: "Make something of yourselves. You are young and capable."