About the Chair

The role of the Chair is to facilitate exchanges between researchers, policy makers and practitioners in order to develop projects that will help Brussels' economy and metabolism transition towards a more circular state.


The main objective of the Chair is facilitate, enrich and make more relevant the exchanges between academia, public administrations and practicioners working on circular economy in order to accelerate the transition towards a more circular metabolism and economy of cities.

Funded by Brussels Innovation Agency (Innoviris), the Chair of Circular Economy and Urban Metabolism hosted at Université Libre de Bruxelles (from 2018 to end 2020) addresses three specific actions of Brussels Circular Economy Regional Programme, namely:

  • Develop a strategic monitoring on circular economy (including initiatives, research, networks, etc.) - INNOV 1
  • Develop a circular economy Chair - INNOV 10
  • Develop a scientific community/committee that can guide public administrations in their efforts - GOUV 9

Specific objectives

To achieve the main objective of this Chair, five more specific objectives were developed.

  1. Ensure a close and organic link between Brussels community of circular researchers and the administrations responsible for the Regional Programme of Circular Economy in order to enable administrations to benefit from an academic distance in the evolution of the RPCE, but also to gear research towards regional needs while maintaining academic relevance. The Chair can also assist regional actors to identify scientific partners for the setting up of national or European projects.
  2. Create / consolidate a "Circular Economy and Urban Metabolism community" comprising academic and field experts. Building on existing structures and this community of experts, the Chair aims to animate and fuel debates on key issues related to Brussels' circular economy and metabolism.
  3. Initiate transdisciplinary and multi-method research projects (action-research, research-by-design, quantification, literature review, comparison of policies, co-creation, conventional research, etc.) on these major issues in order to make the community lively, sustainable and relevant for regional actors waiting for answers.
  4. Insert Brussels research on circular economy and urban metabolism into specialized networks on these issues at a national, European and global level. These networks will facilitate a strategic, technological and political monitoring based on direct exchanges and will encourage the learning of best practices elsewhere.
  5. Represent Brussels research on circular economy and urban metabolism at regional, national and international level through a wide range of channels (the aforementioned networks, academic networks and the general public). 

A local and Brussels-based approach 

The Chair as we envision it, does not primarily aim at academic excellence only measured by publications nor the transferability of results to other cities. On the contrary, we want the work to be deeply rooted in the local context, and particularly in the actions carried out by local administrations. Consequently, the Chair will engage in an organic and collegial co-creation process with the administrations.

A second transversal element of our approach and the most total openness to all researchers and research and teaching organizations working on related issues (ULB, VUB, KUL, UCL, universities, etc.), particularly in through the formation of a community of experts.

Our approach for the latter is to incorporate a variety of types of expertise: academics must play an important role, but other experts will come from the world of entrepreneurship, administrations and associations. Our intention is that this ensemble is not only a "committee" but a true community of experts, together forming a living Brussels School with a strong and attractive identity.

Diversity of methods / disciplines

We believe that the transition to a circular economy must mobilize various methodologies: quantitative research (measuring material flow and economic / environmental / social potential for RBC), action-research (conducting projects in collaboration with on-the-ground associations and public institutions), policy analysis (evaluation of existing policies and formulation of new ones to achieve a given set of objectives), research-by-design (production and testing of different territorial strategies) and meta-research on circular economy research initiatives and projects in RBC and elsewhere.

Critical sponsors

Another important element of our approach is the support of diverse, complementary and proactive sponsors. The work with ROTOR will give decisive impulses to the constitution of a community of experts, especially in terms of critical reflections and nourished by concrete action. On the other hand, the ACR+ sponsor will be crucial for networking with other European cities. Finally, Prof Sabine Barles (Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne University) and Prof. Franck Scherrer (University of Montreal) are offering a academic support to this Chair from their respective expertises.

Paris-Brussels-Montreal Network

While we are convinced that Brussels transition to a circular economy must find its own identity and specific responses to our region, we do not underestimate the usefulness of international collaboration within specialized networks on circular economy and urban metabolism. A point of support for international collaboration is the work within a network with the cities of Montreal and Paris, which could lead to comparative research and increase the transfer of knowledge and good practices between cities / researchers / administrations . With Prof Sabine Barles (Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne University) and Prof. Franck Scherrer (University of Montreal), very active in this network, our project is supported by two internationally renowned experts in this field. One concrete step of this collaboration is the creation of a Summer School on Circular Cities.