[Expert seminar, July 12-13th, Leuven]
As a partner in the C2CNetwork project, the Flemish Public Waste Agency (OVAM) takes the lead in the target area ‘Governance for C2C’. A two-day thematic expert seminar in Leuven on July 12-13th, gathered experts and stakeholders from the different partner regions to provide input for the ongoing perspective study on ‘Governance for C2C’. With as many participants as the expert seminar in Maastricht and a high quality of presentations and debate, this seminar in Leuven was also considered a success.
‘Governance’ is one of those words that is often used and rarely explained. Before focusing into governance for C2C, the concept of governance and its current meanings were briefly introduced during the first day of the seminar. The purpose was to increase our understanding and effectiveness of governance for C2C in the different
target areas. Mr. Johan Hovelynck (triagram) situated ‘governance’ as a particular approach to governing. Apart from the government tradition, two broad directions in a search for alternative ways of governing were distinguished and labelled as ‘governance within government’ and ‘governance beyond government’. It was argued that domains of broad societal innovation, such as C2C, require going ‘beyond government’ and benefit from a focus on a multi-actor perspective.
“It is clear from conversations during the last two days that ‘governance’ is in some ways less tangible than other C2C areas, such as product design, where one can set clear criteria to decide to what extent a product is C2C. In the C2CN project ‘governance’ was set up next to the other target areas, but it’s really an activity that cuts across the three other target areas.” Johan Hovelynck, triagram
Furthermore, Mr. Art Dewulf (Wageningen University) explored different approaches to governing change in a multi-actor perspective and presented a brief overview of corresponding lead-roles. Accordingly, he presented some initial findings on governance practices in domains related to environment and sustainability, close to the target areas in the C2CN project. To conclude, Art looked into organisational conditions for multi-actor governance, strategies of government actors and, finally, at some dilemma’s and tensions that seem implied in a governance approach. Just as Mr. Peter Stouthuysen (VITO) did in Maastricht, Mr. Dirk Le Roy (Sustenuto) presented this time the preliminary results of the development of a theoretical C2C framework, and more specifically, how the governance perspective could be linked to this general C2C framework.
This presentation of the theoretical framework will be repeated at the two remaining expert seminars in Milan (IT) and Cambridge (UK).
Through presentations and testimonies, sharing their good practice with the participants, the working methods, strengths and pitfalls of governance approaches were discussed in four action-research workshops related to the testimonies of the good practices:
- Qreamteam (Mr. Joost Backus, Koekoek BV)
- Bosco Mobile (Mrs. Valentina Castellani, University of Milano - Bicocca)
- Peterborough Zero Waste Place (Mr. Matthew Hunt, Royal Haskoning UK)
- C2C carpets (Rob Kragt, DESSO NV)
“Governance is probably the key. The problem is that many people are talking about life cycle thinking and C2C, but didn’t learn at school how to manage this kind of concepts. Very often we want to do so, but we lack the skills and the methods. When you talk to engineers (…), they see this kind of processes as soft thinking and not very operational, while thinking in a systemic and multi-actor way is a crucial part of
making C2C operational.” Jacques de Gerlache, Solvay
The first day ended with a C2CN International Steering Committee, an informal chat and some interviews with the participants on their cases and seminar experiences. Before enjoying a summer BBQ in the city centre of Leuven, a delegation of the C2CNetwork project was invited for a drink at the City Hall by Mr. Mohamed Ridouani, city councilor for Environment and Education in Leuven.
The second day, participants had the choice to participate in two different study visits:
- FabLab (Leuven), desktop revolution or democratized and sustainable production?
- Cameleon Woluwe (Brussels), first ecologically built shopping centre in Europe.
The visits were not ‘just a trip to a project’, but rather interactive workshops on location. Afterwards both visits were evaluated and discussed in a plenary session. All participants shared their experiences on interesting (C2C or other) ideas they took
from the visit, what they learned about governance, and the questions and challenges that remained. “When we look at trainings and conferences, there is a common expectation to return
with the right answers. Yet governance is all about practice and what the right answer is, will largely depend on context. So, rather than returning with definite answers, I hope you’ll leave this seminar with relevant questions, to be answered on the spot, in the light of your specific situation.” Johan Hovelynck, triagram
The two-day-seminar ended with some preliminary conclusions by Mr. Johan Hovelynck (triagram). Governance is ultimately concerned with creating the conditions for ordered rule and collective action. The difference between multi-actor governance and government, in this sense, is therefore a matter of processes and corresponding quality
of outcome, rather than purpose. Simultaneously, the governance perspective provides a more differentiated understanding of governing processes, even in practices that were conceived in terms of government. It opens the eye for the interactions between actors that were previously thought of as either government or civilians, and the multiplicity of influences that steer the heterogeneous and overlapping networks in society in a certain direction – including C2C, or not. In doing so, the governance perspective not only draws attention to the involvement of the private and voluntary actors, it also implies
a shift of focus away from formalities and a concern for what should be, to a focus on behaviour and what is. Governance for C2C may benefit from an understanding of this double shift and an awareness of the governing principles enacted in specific C2C practices. Recognizing assumptions about change makes it possible to address them
if need be. Clarifying roles, creating organisational conditions and making choices in a repertoire of strategies, may facilitate governance for C2C.