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Measuring the circular economy in cities through the SDGs: a preliminary discussion
Cities are currently facing a number of sustainability challenges that demand short- and long-term solutions. In this context, policymakers are dealing with a myriad of sustainability-related concepts and approaches, which demands time and resources to enable their implementation and realization. Two major hot topics are the circular economy and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With the aim of meeting sustainability targets, cities are starting to promote a wide variety of circular economy initiatives. These cover different urban target areas, namely infrastructure, social consumption, industries and businesses, and urban planning. However, given that cities have limited financial resources available, prioritizing action areas is essential. Thus, how could a city prioritize circular economy strategies that assist in approaching urban SDGs? This study aims to present a preliminary framework that helps cities identify the main SDG indicators to be measured to prioritize certain circular economy strategies. To do so, we will first identify current sustainability goals pursued by cities worldwide in order to get an overview of the main concerns, objectives and indicators used in local agendas. An in-depth analysis of existing circular economy plans and visions will also help to detect what cities conceive as circular economy strategies. We will then conduct a theoretical and critical assessment of the interlinkages among SDGs and circular economy strategies. This will shed light on the potential benefits and drawbacks of implementing certain circular economy strategies on particular SDGs. These connections will be used to generate a list of potential indicators for a sustainable circular economy in cities. Ultimately, this analysis will define a comprehensive framework with indicators and tools for prioritizing circular economy strategies in cities. This critical approach would be of relevance to simplify the monitoring efforts for local policymakers.