A Stocktake of Circular Economy Progress and Strategy in the Pacific SIDS

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Abstract

The Circular Economy (CE) concept is integral to sustainable development, yet its theoretical richness contrasts with varied practical applications, as evidenced by over two hundred definitions. This study contributes to understanding this disconnect by analyzing CE adoption in three Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS), examining the interplay between institutional dynamics and sustainable transition policies within Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Utilizing the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s butterfly diagram to identify CE initiatives, this research adopts a mixed-methods approach supplemented by institutional co-evolutionary analysis to examine CE initiatives’ efficacy in these island states. Results indicate that disjointed CE efforts impact the advancement of NDCs. Local “actor institutions,” particularly in Samoa and the Cook Islands, are pivotal, successfully driving projects such as community biogas and solar energy programs. Conversely, Tonga’s centralized initiatives underscore the limitations of top-down approaches. This study underlines the importance of aligning CE policies with local institutional realities to enhance their efficacy and contribute to global sustainability goals.