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Expert Insights

Expert Insights gives voice to the Urban Insights initiative. We bring you closer to the authors and influencers who have helped to shape and form the Urban Insight initiative and reports.

Elisabeth Gammelsæter is a senior advisor at Sweco Industry in Norway. She is an economist who has worked for several years at the Norwegian Ministry of Industry and as the Secretary-General of Norwegian Mining and Quarrying Industries, the trade association for the Norwegian mineral and mining industry.

She focuses on the social side of projects and how we can make our projects more acceptable to society and to stakeholders; a topic she is also currently writing a book on. Not in my neighbourhood will be published in spring 2022.

From your point of view, what does a circular economy mean?
“A circular economy is a good way to solve the issue of finite resources. However, it’s not enough, because we need to keep adding virgin materials in order to solve, for example, the green transition and the climate crisis.”

A circular economy is a good way to solve the issue of finite resources.”

What are the main obstacles to becoming a circular society?
“We have a Norwegian circular strategy that has identified several barriers to circularity, on the regulatory and political levels, on the economic and technological levels, and on the structural and cultural levels. So, what we really need is a new mindset. Things that have been done and that have worked before are not going to work anymore. We need to continue to challenge each other to become more circular.”

What are the most important steps to take right now?
“We need to zoom out. If you take the map metaphor, we’re all in our own valleys. We can’t see across the hill to what’s on the other side. We need to get that helicopter perspective so that we can see all the different information and get an overall picture of what is happening. “We need to zoom out to get the overall picture.”

We need to continue to challenge each other to become more circular.”

Circularity in five years, where will we be by then?
“I hope for better traceability in the value chain so that we can demand sustainability and circularity from producers and that they can more easily document that.”

Sweco´s cross-border knowledge platform, Urban Insights, will highlight and discuss the transition towards greater sustainability and circularity in urban areas. Together with experts, scientists and the public, we will discuss key steps we must take to achieve net zero cities and societies.

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