One of the biggest challenges facing the European Union and its Member States is to tackle the issue of sustainability. Today, we hear more and more about the launch of pilot projects using smart solutions to support climate neutrality. At the same time, it is important to emphasise the economic and social aspects of sustainability, and results can only be achieved through a complex approach.
Sustainability programmes must be based on country, regional, urban and municipal plans and agreements. The programmes should include comprehensive and climate neutral investment plans covering energy, insulation of buildings, waste management, transport, etc. They should also involve the public, research organisations and the private sector.
The news is excellent, but it is not yet about the circular economy, nor is it about circular farming! What is missing are the social and economic sustainability issues that are closely linked to sustainability, without which there can be no lasting results for the future.
Or can we?
The climate neutrality programmes that are now being launched focus on energy, insulation of buildings, waste management and transport, for which comprehensive and investment plans are being drawn up. The direction is good, but the approach is a bit mixed, basically addressing some of the subsystems of urban management that are mainly responsible for emissions. Strangely, green space and water management are not included. It is also not said that most cities were already prepared for such a task when they prepared their SECAP (Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan) with EU funding. It is clear that the programmes still lack the elements that can ensure lasting results. It is essential that there is an economic model behind the solutions to be put in place to ensure their medium and long-term sustainability. At the same time, success also requires people themselves, since the success of the solutions created by the programmes also depends on how open and receptive we are to these solutions. An important aspect is the user, who in many cases is the target audience for these solutions, and care must be taken to ensure that these innovations are used, as this is the only way to achieve long-term sustainable success.
The requirement for intelligence that can support the everyday lives of people and users can be an expectation and can help in the transition to a circular management system and the successful implementation of the environmental, social and economic sustainability pillars. In programmes initiated in such an approach, the shift to smart solutions is also circular farming, as in a broader sense, material cycles can indeed achieve significant emission reductions. However, this result must also be captured at the hedging level, i.e. the discounted value of social benefits must be able to be converted into forints.
This is where the justification for a shift to a circular economy system is found, since it is not enough to detect the expected reduction in emissions, but also to create the possibility of its real utilisation as a resource, and this can be achieved by establishing a consensus-based accounting relationship between the systems involved.
Intelligence should be seen here as an exact description of the value chain and the chain of consequences. It is in fact a flow description of the interacting economic actions. We are talking about a multiplicity of dispositions, all based on the terms of smart contracts.
The result is a controlled relation of the circular flow of materials, cost/cover. What the city metabolizes with its transport, waste management, energy mix. In this, one of the most important backgrounds is an energy Smart Grid, which can supply and balance the city as a Virtual Power Plant in the most efficient way, as part of a decentralised system.
By managing the cycle from the level of the material flow to a higher dimension with the tools of digitalisation, sustainability results can be achieved even by connecting existing subsystems. With the right incentives and motivation, the behaviour of users can be steered towards sustainability, and results can be achieved even with a smaller investment scale. This requires digital solutions that can reach potential users and measure the results of the chain of consequences, even at individual level.
Looking now at the title, it could be said that by linking existing systems into an ecosystem, we already have the tools to implement a circular economy effectively. Let us look at what we need to do this.
TO BE CONTINUED…