Global Virtual Discussion – Real Circularity in Finance: Is circularity the new investment opportunity?


Lucy Siegle, Chair, Real Circularity Coalition

Keith Tuffley, Global Co-Head, Sustainability & Corporate Transitions Group, Citi Group

Sébastien Soleille, Head of Energy and Environment Transition, BNP Paribas

Damian Payiatakis, Head of Impact Investing, Barclays

Marte Borhaug, Global Head of Sustainable Outcomes, Aviva Investors

Hein Brekelmans, Head Sustainable Finance Desk, ABN AMRO

Chair Lucy Siegle kicked off the event by highlighting the need for a circular economy if humanity is to rise to the environmental challenges of our time, and by asking the panellists whether circularity is the new global investment opportunity.

The panel agreed that there was an incredible amount of potential to invest in organisations which are embedding circularity into their business model. They were also in agreement that investment in circular  initiatives is key if we are to achieve the UN Sustainability Goals. However, the panel also highlighted the challenges present which are current stumbling blocks.

Sébastien Soleille pointed out that the complexities of defining which initiatives are truly circular and which are semi-circular can make it difficult for organisations to invest in circularity.

Keith Tuffley suggested companies which introduce KPIs, using KPIs which demonstrate not only financial gain, but societal and ecological value, can make circularity a more desirable investment opportunity.

Damian Payiatakis agreed, adding that in terms of investing in circularity, shareholders are looking to invest in organisations who have begun to adopt circular practices, as well as companies which have based their business models around circular economy concepts.

“The principles, and values, that are driving circularity are investable.” He said.

The conversation went on to analyse the boundaries facing potential investors in providing funding to circular initiatives further, with Hein Brekelmans saying a system change away from linear and financial value only models is needed to transition towards a circular economy.

He said: “If you only focus on the financial value, the social and ecological value is not seen by the shareholder. Companies at the moment have no trigger to move to a circular economy.

“A circular economy is brilliant, but we need to change the rules of the game to allow us to move towards it.”

Concluding the digital discussion, the panel explored how circular organisations looking for funding can better attract the attention of investors. Hein Brekelmans highlighted how it is difficult for organisations as they are expected to compete with companies which use a linear model. Damian Payiatakis added that companies who are further along with their circular model, and those which are closer to making it scalable, will have a much better chance of attracting investment. The consensus of the panel was that circularity represents an investment opportunity, and that it is needed if we are to tackle the growing climate crisis. To further position circularity as an investment opportunity the panel highlighted the need for more engagement and more support from government and leading organisations. By doing this the world can create a seismic shift away from its current linear model, driving instead towards a circular model which will better serve the planet.

Final note:

Huge thank you to all our panellists for their fantastic contributions, as well as to everyone who attended the webinar and asked questions. We hope you all enjoyed it.