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WS 11: Creating Credible Metrics for the Impacts of Circular Business Models

Workshop Organiser: World Resources Insitute
Workshop Chair: Eliot Metzger, World Resources Institute
Date and time: Wednesday 25, 11h00 – 13h00
Room: 5


A transition to a circular economy holds immense potential for achieving important resource productivity breakthroughs. Much has been said about the economic benefits. Estimates put the value of investments in circular in the €100s of billions in regions like Europe—and as high as $1 trillion USD globally. But how do we know if we are realising the full environmental and social benefit potential?

Most urgently, how might we measure the impacts of emerging circular business models to know whether they are indeed proving to be a useful means of reversing resource overconsumption trends?

The World Resources Institute (WRI), together with many experts and stakeholders, are asking this question as follow up to WRI’s working paper Elephant in the Boardroom: Why Unchecked Consumption is Not an Option in Tomorrow’s Markets. Common, credible metrics are needed to “do the math” and mark progress toward priorities like Key Performance Indicators, Sustainable Development Goals, and Science Based Targets.

The aims of the WRI Workshop are to:

1.- Present research and early proposals for priority metrics that evaluate impacts of emerging circular business models; and

2.- Invite representatives from industry/business, academia, government, and civil society to review and contribute to next steps for shaping and scaling use of these metrics in key sectors.


Eliot Metzger (Senior Associate, Business Center, World Resources Institute)

Eliot is a Senior Associate in WRI’s Business Center. He manages research on innovative business solutions to global environmental challenges like climate change or the water-energy nexus. He works closely with WRI’s corporate partners to develop, test, and refine practical tools, including a sustainability SWOT tool that can translate big trends into risks or opportunities to create new value. This involves collaboration among leaders from multiple industries to prove new concepts and tackle environmental challenges that are bigger than any one company.

Prior to re-joining WRI in 2007 (Eliot was a WRI intern in 2004), he worked at Eastern Research Group as a consultant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. There, he helped develop and execute a variety of clean energy and water efficiency initiatives, including EPA’s energy and environmental management systems and WaterSense program.

Eliot holds an M.Sc. in Environmental Science and Policy from Johns Hopkins University, and Bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Science and Business from the University of San Francisco, where he was a Goldwater Scholar.

Deborah Drew (Research Analyst, Business Center, World Resources Institute)

Deborah is the Research Analyst for the Business Center at WRI. She concentrates on sustainable consumption, SDGs, and alternative business models. In a previous position at WRI, Deborah was the Project Coordinator and Research Analyst for the Climate Briefing Service within the Climate Program at WRI. She worked to coordinate outreach and programmatic areas for the project in the lead up to the Paris Agreement. Her professional and academic concentration has focused on business’ role in environmental stewardship, peacebuilding, and social change.

Prior to joining WRI, she worked for the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a corporate social responsibility non-profit working to improve factory safety in Bangladesh’s Ready-Made Garment industry. In addition, Deborah has experience working in Kenya on development projects and peacebuilding.

Deborah holds a MA in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University in Washington, DC and a BA in History and French from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI.

Andrea Brown (Director of Circular Economy, World Business Council for Sustainable Development)

Andrea Brown is the Director of Circular Economy at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) with more than 10 years’ of experience aligning business and governments on sustainability. She was previously the Director of the Chemical Industry Project to increase transparency and materiality for companies’ environmental and social performance. In partnership with the World Resources Institute, she also managed the GHG Protocol standard development process for Scope 3 and Product LCA.

Prior to joining the WBCSD, Andrea advanced trade, international relations, and energy development for the Alberta Department of Energy, the Ministry of International Relations in Alberta and Global Affairs Canada.

Brendan Edgerton (Manager, Circular Economy, World Business Council for Sustainable Development)

Brendan is the Manager of Circular Economy at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in Geneva, Switzerland. Since arriving at WBCSD in 2015, he has managed the delivery of the Practitioner Guide to the Circular Economy ( and the 8 Business Cases to the Circular Economy. He has also contributed to the Environmental Priorities for Business in the Circular Economy and the CEO Guide to the Circular Economy.

His career in sustainable development spans beyond the circular economy into green building, life cycle assessment and entrepreneurship.

Kate Meyer (Director, Ecometrics)

Kate Meyer is a mechanical engineer who has spent the bulk of her career as a sustainability consultant in the built environment. She has delivered many highly innovative solutions for the built environment that use first principle physics and simple processes to achieve substantial environmental benefits.

Kate conceived the concept of Planetary Accounting almost a decade ago and in 2014 left her corporate career to pursue the project full time using an academic platform to provide scientific rigor, transparency, and robustness to the system. The Planetary Accounting framework will be available as a Springer book publication in 2018.

Kate is the director of a new science based environmental consulting firm Ecometrics and is currently setting up a research centre to further the development and begin the practical application of Planetary Accounting.


11h00 – 11h10 Welcome and Introductions

· Remarks and session overview from co-conveners at World Resources Institute and World Business Council for Sustainable Development

11h10 – 11h45 How do we know if circular is sustainable?

· Brief review of existing methods to measure impacts of business models

· Discuss gaps and challenges in using metrics to address unchecked consumption

· Review of recent research and emerging opportunities for better metrics

Featured discussants:

· Kate Meyer, Ecometrics

· Andrea Brown, World Business Council for Sustainable Development

· Brendan Edgerton, World Business Council for Sustainable Development

· Deborah Drew, World Resources Institute

11h45 – 12h30 Concept in Practice: Developing a credible, common measurement approach

· Participants will work with a specific scenario and sector focus to explore the critical assumptions, data, and applications of metrics to measure circular business models.

12h30 – 13h00 How (and who) to take this forward?

· What companies and institutions will need to inform and embrace better metrics?

· Next steps for establishing common, credible methods and metrics