Actions putting the Territorial Agenda into practice

Circular Rural Regions

Circular Economy in Rural Areas

Copyright: AscentXmedia

The concept of circular economy has taken a central role in the sustainable transformation of the economy and society both at the national and EU levels. The new pilot action, initiated by Germany as part of the Territorial Agenda 2030, explores regional approaches to the circular economy on the example of German and European regions and supports the development and implementation of strategic circular economy concepts in rural areas.

Rationale & link to Territorial Agenda

At the European level, the transformation towards a circular economy is anchored in initiatives such as the EU Green Deal, the Circular Economy Action Plan, and the Territorial Agenda 2030. The pilot action will contribute to implementing the “Green Europe – Circular Economy” objective of the Territorial Agenda 2030. In Germany, the federal government is currently working on a National Circular Economy Strategy aimed at showcasing the path to a circular economy.

Despite the high relevance of circular economy for a sustainable economic transformation, the approach has not been fully exploited for the development of rural regions so far. Rural areas offer significant potential for implementing circular economic systems. On one hand, they can make use of the availability of resources, especially biogenic raw materials and waste materials. On the other hand, rural areas can rely on a community with a strong regional identity that is sensitive to natural resource management.

To investigate this potential of rural regions, the research project “The potential of circular economy for rural development in Germany and Europe” was conducted prior to this pilot action. Between 2021 and 2023, the project collected success factors for circular rural development in Germany and Europe. The current pilot action builds upon these findings and the positive experiences from previous pilot actions within the framework of the Territorial Agenda 2030.


The goal of the pilot action is to strengthen circular transformation processes in rural regions. The target audience includes stakeholders in regional development, such as representatives from municipal and regional administration, economic development, civil society initiatives, or business associations in rural areas.

The pilot action focuses on the following questions: How can systemic approaches to circular economy be successfully introduced and institutionalised in rural regions? What mechanisms and processes are necessary to consolidate and coordinate existing circular economy initiatives from various sectors towards sustainable regional development? How can regional strategies and action plans for circular economy be designed to complement existing development strategies? How can regional stakeholders be involved in the process and engaged?


The pilot action involves regions that have already taken initial steps and measures in the field of the circular economy. Until 2027, a number of regions will be supported in developing and implementing their concepts and measures for circular economy. The involved regions will benefit from a European exchange on good practices in rural circular economy. Central elements include the knowledge transfer of the results of the pilot action at regional, national, and European levels.


A public kick-off conference will take place 26 September 2024 in Berlin.

Lead stakeholder

German Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR) on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building (BMWSB), Germany


Further information is available here.

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