Added: Dec 23, 2020
Last edited: Nov 24, 2021
The city of Quito is preparing to face the challenges of the 21st century based on its adaptive capacity, which is built on social and economic inclusion, efficient urban performance and environmental sustainability. Thanks to the support of the Global Resilient Cities Network, Quito has developed an urban Resilience Strategy, which specifically includes circular economy development. The resilience strategy is built on five pillars (subsystems) that are interdependent: social systems and the citizen participation system; ecosystems and natural resources; technical systems (e.g. mobility system, building production system); economy (e.g. food systems, production systems) and risk management. The circular economy is explicitly addressed in the economy pillar, yet pertains to all other pillars as well.
As the capital of Ecuador, Quito counts almost 3 million inhabitants. The city is nested in the high altitude Andes mountains. With this comes accessibility and infrastructure challenges, exposure to natural hazards, as well as a wealth of natural resources and biodiversity hotspots directly surrounding the city. New urban planning parameters for the Metropolitan District of Quito are being defined, both in terms of mobility and urban development. This includes the construction of the first metro line, and the city’s commitment to the New Urban Agenda, which was adopted by the UN in Quito during the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, Habitat III.
Quito is part of the Global Resilient Cities Network, and has, with the support of the network, developed an urban Resilience Strategy, which specifically includes circular economy development. The resilience strategy is a long-term proposal, but actions are being developed and implemented around five pillars (subsystems) that are interdependent:
1. Social systems and the citizen participation system
• Different neighbourhoods face different challenges. Approximately 60 municipal technicians have been trained so they can facilitate workshops to formulate Neighborhood Development Agendas under a lens of resilience.
• Five training workshops for neighborhood leaders (about 130 leaders) have been held to formulate these plans.
• A digital platform has been implemented to allow citizen engagement in city planning and decision making.
• 5 parks were built in a participatory manner with the community to reduce social insecurity.
2. Ecosystems and natural resources
• Together with a local company, the municipality promoted a research project on Nature-Based Solutions (CLEVER Project) with other European partners.
• "Quito Recycles" program was launched to encourage the participation of citizens in the reduction of waste generation.
3. Technical systems (e.g. mobility system, building production system)
• A feasibility study for Transport-Oriented Development has been launched by the Quito Eco-efficiency Resolution, which encourages the real estate sector to construct buildings near the stations of mass transport systems, including mechanisms that reduce the environmental footprint during the construction and operation of these buildings.
• The Development Plan for the Historic Center of Quito is being developed under a resilience lens.
• Several streets have been designated for pedestrians only in the Historic Center of Quito with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
4. Economy (e.g. food systems, production systems)
• The production sectors that have the greatest capacity to create quality jobs have been identified and are now part of the city's investment promotion agenda.
• The Agroalimentary Strategy of Quito has been developed through a highly participatory process with many sectors of the community and government and builds on resilience principles.
• Based on an agreement signed between 100 Resilient Cities, the FOMIN and Fundacion Avina, the municipality is working to promote a pilot project base on the circular economy in industrial polygons of the city to reduce the environmental footprint of the production processes.
5. Risk management
• Together with the Architects Association of Ecuador-Pichincha, the municipality is developing a pilot project to reinforce the safety of existing housing stock and reduce the risk of collapse of buildings against physical threats.
The circular economy is explicitly addressed in the economy pillar, yet pertains to all other pillars as well. All activities contributing to the circular economy are designed to increase the urban resilience of Quito. One of the most prominent resilience strategies with regards to the circular economy is to broaden citizen participation, which has proven especially important in contexts where most of the population lives in informality. This helps create social cohesion, self-governing structures, while also helps to close the gap between the Municipality of Quito and communities. For example, when the Coronavirus crisis struck the city of Quito, the Municipality was able to learn and better understand where and how to better help the most needed.
The Municipality has also identified slow variables to keep track of structural changes in the city, which evolve over long time scales. With regards to the food system, for example, it monitors the food literacy of people to positively impact eating habits and overall health of the population.
Pursuing a more circular economy in Quito has so far resulted in:
• Job creation, as a result of neighbourhood level waste management activities and which increases human and social capital.
• Stronger local production systems, as a result of locally embedded research and development around regenerative and secondary resources and which increases innovation power.
• Reduced degradation of the environment, as a result for the reduced amount of waste that is sent to landfill and which brings about health benefits and reduces the pressure on an already overwhelmed waste collection system.
As such, circular economy strategies address some of the chronic stressors that increase the vulnerability of the population. This outcome is important since risk is configured by natural or manmade hazards that cause catastrophes, while the vulnerability impedes people to be better prepared and recover faster.
Implement innovation programmes
Develop regenerative infrastructure
Develop infrastructure to support sustainable lifestyles
Roadmaps and strategies and targets
Participatory governance mechanisms
Monitoring & enforcement
Develop infrastructure to support resource cycling