As a founder of MacherSchaft, a pioneering open access design and repair workshop in Basel that anyone can use, Nicolai Diamant is passionate about collaboration and community. It’s this same belief in the benefits of collective endeavour, sharing resources, and learning, that fuels his work with Circular Economy Switzerland (CES), a young organisation with big ambitions.
“We’re driving the transition from a linear to a circular economy in Switzerland by building a new countrywide circular economy network, shaping policy frameworks and supply and demand, and creating a market for circular economy products and services.”
Fast becoming the principal convenor and enabler for anyone enthusiastic about circularity – whether from business, government, or civil society – CES promotes cooperation and knowledge-sharing across all industries and fields. And with resource consumption in Switzerland high, there’s considerable opportunity for innovation.
Circular economy projects have been mushrooming in Switzerland, and in early 2019, a handful of organisations – our ‘initiators’ – set up CES as a new coordination and exchange platform to bring everyone together and catalyse a country-wide circular economy.
From procurement to politics
Under the CES banner, numerous partners now actively contribute to the circular economy movement through a variety of projects. These include Circular Economy Transition, which supports start-ups and entrepreneurs, and Make Furniture Circular, which is shaping new service-driven business models in the furniture sector. Particularly important is CES work to develop a better understanding of circularity across the political spectrum in Switzerland, and two new projects (‘Prozirkula’ and ‘die Einkäuferin’) focused on transforming public and private sector procurement.
“Harnessing municipal procurement has the potential to create huge demand for circular products. Basel’s department for Environment and Energy is moving to a new building – imagine the impact if the city commits to sourcing only furniture and fittings made according to circular design principles. If a supplier retains ownership and offers their product as a service, they have incentives to design for longevity and ease of repair.”
Another project, #MoveTheDate Switzerland, seeks to delay Overshoot Day – the day each year when humanity’s demand on nature exceeds what natural systems can renew – and inspire consumer and societal change by profiling stories of ‘circular heroes’: the influential entrepreneurs and communities already engaged in circularity; while Circular Hub supports companies in transforming for a circular economy.
Going further together
Although a child of the city, Nicolai has a great love for nature. And he recognises it’s a major driving force behind his desire to help shape a more sustainable world.
“I love hiking, skiing, climbing and winter mountaineering. Nature gives me a lot of energy – which I need to do my work: movement-building is much harder than ice climbing!
On the premise that some involvement is better than none, CES makes it as easy as possible to join the movement, offering varying levels of participation – from supporter to advocate, or contributor – to match individual or organisational means and interest.
“Our priority is changing mindsets. We have a good overview of what’s happening across the country, which means we can connect and integrate different people, projects, sectors and ideas. It’s really about creating a fertile space for innovation, action and advocacy.”
CES also runs tailored workshops throughout the year, as well as supporting annual partner events such as SHIFT Switzerland and CE2, and produces a fortnightly newsletter covering the latest circular economy developments in Switzerland.
Pursuing circularity has profound implications for businesses. In many cases, it means shifting to service provision. It’s a long journey and companies need time to adapt. But there’s tremendous opportunity, and a good business case. It’s the future for Switzerland. I would urge anyone here with even a passing interest in circularity to get involved. Together we will achieve much more than we can alone.
How does Nicolai contribute to MAVA's mission?
Find out more about how Nicolai and CES are contributing to our action plan on advancing a circular economy in Switzerland.