Completing the Picture

How the Circular Economy Tackles Climate Change

With support from SUN, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation recently published a report that demonstrates how businesses, financial institutions, and policymakers can build a thriving and resilient economy while playing an essential role in reaching climate targets. Released in collaboration with Material Economics, the paper sets out that while moving to renewables can address 55% of global GHG emissions, to achieve UN climate goals it is imperative to tackle the remaining 45%. Concentrating on five key areas (cement, plastics, steel, aluminum, and food) the report illustrates how designing out waste, keeping materials in use, and regenerating farmland can reduce these emissions by 9.3 billion tons.


Below is a selection of recent projects coordinated by our partner organizations with support from SUN. Click here for a project overview.


Redefining Growth in the 21st Century

Disruptive technology is one of the defining economic trends of our age, transforming one major industry after another. But what is the true impact of such disruption on the world's economies, and does it really have the potential to solve global problems such as low growth, inequality and environmental degradation? The provocative answer is that such disruption could indeed solve many of these issues, but that it won't... at least, not on its current trajectory.

A Good Disruption by Martin Stuchtey, Per-Anders Engkvist and SUN President Klaus Zumwinkel highlights some of the huge costs that are at stake, and argues that managing such disruption will be the defining business challenge of the next decade. In order for us to meet that challenge, the book sets out a bold and inspirational vision for a more robust and sustainable economic model.

“Growth Within”: A Circular Economy Vision for a Competitive Europe

A report launched by SUN in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment examines how the convergence of new technology and emerging circular economy principles will change the underlying economics and performance of Europe. The report was presented to the European Commission and various national and international stakeholders.

Achieving “Growth Within”

A follow-up report launched at the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Annual Meeting in Davos shows that scaling the circular economy in Europe offers investment opportunities totaling €320 billion. Written by SYSTEMIQ in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and sponsored by SUN, the report identifies priority investment opportunities that could provide a major source of regenerative growth and unlock economic, social and environmental benefits, as well as mitigating the risks associated with investing in conventional assets in an era of rapid change. Businesses and governments could benefit from promising investment outlets, and harness the competitive advantage brought about by a circular economy transition.


The Deutsche Post Foundation established the SUN Institute Environment & Sustainability as a non-profit organization in September 2014 in order to strengthen its international activities in supporting institutions, programs and projects dealing with the environmental challenges and opportunities of globalization and enhanced cross-border activities.

SUN employs no research staff of its own but concentrates on initiating and supporting external activities by institutions that share our objectives. Project partners include the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the International Resource Panel, the Innovation Lab for Sustainability at the University of Innsbruck, the Wuppertal Institute, and SYSTEMIQ.

SUN is headed by Martin T. Clemens, who also serves as Chief Financial Officer of the IZA Institute of Labor Economics and the briq Institute on Behavior & Inequality. The scientific council consists of Ida Auken, former Minister for the Environment of Denmark, Vera Günther, co-founder of mimycri, and Roland Tichy, former editor-in-chief of leading German business magazines.


In today’s world, there is a growing awareness that we need to change our way of life and doing business lest we deplete our planet Earth of all its resources and make in uninhabitable.

Against this background, various concepts are being developed to reconcile economic needs with ecological reason and social responsibility. SUN aims, for example, at further developing the Circular Economy model that facilitates economic growth in a sustainable, resource-saving manner.

The model makes use of disruptive developments that have the potential to change technology, economics and society for the better. These disruptions are analyzed in terms of their potential economic and environmental effects in order to promote sustainable business that creates more “green jobs”.

SUN’s goal is to contribute to activities that help society realize the double dividend of a circular economy.


SUN shares its office with IZA and is supported in all administrative matters by the IZA service unit.

This is how you may reach us:

SUN Institute Environment & Economics
Schaumburg-Lippe-Straße 5
53113 Bonn, Germany

Mark Fallak, Head of Communications