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    UNIS/OUS/385
    6 November 2017

    Re-issued as received

    The auto industry's shift towards a circular economy focus of international conference in Slovakia

    BRATISLAVA/VIENNA, 6 November 2017 - Ways the automotive industry can benefit from the circular economy and innovations that can be triggered within the automotive supply chain in this respect are the focus of an international conference in Slovakia, one of the largest hubs for automotive industries in Europe.

    The two-day event that opened today, the first of its kind on the circular economy in the automotive industry, was organized by the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic in cooperation with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). It was supported by the embassies of The Netherlands and Norway in Slovakia.

    Participants included experts from the automotive supply chain and industry organizations from Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, as well as representatives of the European Union, the OECD, and the World Economic Forum. The conference served as a platform for the exchange of ideas, best practices and for new partnerships among businesses.

    Speaking at the event, László Sólymos, the Minister of Environment of Slovakia, said: "The conference on circular economy in the automotive industry is a great opportunity to continue the work done within the Bratislava Green Economy Process launched at the Transition to Green Economy Conference (T2GE) in Slovakia last year. Many supply chain actors in the automotive industry have already embraced circular economy practices, which is a priority for the Ministry of Environment.  We thank our partners UNIDO and the Embassies of The Netherlands and Norway for their collaboration in the organization of this conference as we continue driving towards circularity together with the automotive stakeholders."

    Peter Žiga, the Minister of Economy of Slovakia, added: "The automotive industry is a driving force of the Slovak economy, creating over 200,000 direct and indirect jobs, over 2.5 billion euros in industrial added value, and contributing over 17 billion euros to our exports. We expect the systemic innovations foreseen by circular business practices in the automotive industry to further strengthen the performance of the sector."

    Stephan Sicars, Director of UNIDO's Department of Environment, said: "A circular economy creates economic benefits through systemic innovations by designing to avoid waste later; keeping products and materials in use as long as possible; and using renewable energy, while regenerating natural capital. It foresees a transformation from consuming to safeguarding the finite resources of the Earth, as we continue to create jobs and income through inclusive and sustainable industrialization."

    Anthony Cox, Acting Director for the Environment Directorate at OECD, said: "OECD has a longstanding priority in supporting countries in a transition to a green economy, therefore this initiative is welcomed." During the conference, he presented the outcome of a joint project by the OECD and the Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic, which focuses on circular economy and resource efficiency in the Slovak Republic. He said the OECD was keen to use the outcomes of the conference on its ongoing work on the transition towards a circular economy.

    Henk Cor van der Kwast, Ambassador of The Netherlands to Slovakia, said: "The Netherlands is working hard to implement the circular economy throughout its society as well as its businesses. In an innovative way, businesses are exploring opportunities and Dutch companies have already adopted plenty of circular economy initiatives. The freshly appointed cabinet adopted an ambitious programme for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We consider it important to share these experiences with our partners in Slovakia and in other European countries, as we need to advance toward circularity in order to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals."

    Inga Magistad, Ambassador of Norway to Slovakia, said her country was keen to continue the ongoing cooperation with the Government of Slovakia on the circular economy and the greening of businesses. She referred to "the future opportunities for cooperation on green industry innovation and climate mitigation within the new EEA and Norway Grants for Slovakia, and also to the opportunities offered by participating Norwegian companies in the field of innovative solutions, and new materials in the drive towards a circular economy in the automotive and other industries." "Norway has valuable experiences and knowledge to share in our common endeavour to move towards circularity and a more sustainable and environmentally friendly industrial production," she said.

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    For further information, please contact:

    Nilgün Tas
    Chief, UNIDO Industrial Resource Efficiency Division
    Email:  n.tas@unido.org

    Communication Unit
    Slovak Ministry of Environment
    Email:  circular.automotive@enviro.gov.sk