I was working for McKinsey in Munich and was lucky enough to produce the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s first ever report. I discovered circularity and couldn’t resist! I took a two-month sabbatical, one month hiking in Nepal and one month working with the foundation. And then I made the leap to the Isle of Wight where the foundation is based.

EMF China team (c) EMF

Leapfrog forward

Since joining, Stephanie Hubold has set up the Government & Cities Programme supporting public bodies on circular economy, produced the MAVA-supported ‘Delivering the Circular Economy – A Toolkit for Policymakers’, and led the Foundation’s Knowledge Partnerships work with international advisory firms driving circular economy research and implementation.

In partnership with international partners such as McKinsey, Arup and UNCTAD, and in close dialogue with Chinese academics and government, Stephanie is now leading research on the creation of regenerative circular economies in Chinese cities. Her aim is to combat the escalating impacts of rapid industrialisation on environment and health while identifying exciting new opportunities for urban and industrial innovation.

In China, the potential to leapfrog forward through product and business model redesign, supported by the digital economy, is huge. Layer by layer we’re uncovering the opportunities. And I hope we can reach new geographies and witness an exponential uptake of circular economy. Our future depends on decoupling growth from intensive resource use, restoring social and natural capital.

Impossible is nothing

In the spirit of its eponymous founder, the Foundation has an unshakeable belief that it can catalyse change. Recognising business innovation is central to economic transition, it also has an impressive list of corporate partners including Google, NIKE Inc. and Unilever. And its emphasis on dialogue, networking and partnership sits well with Stephanie’s own approach to change.

(c) iStock-Andreas Gerhardinger

As a teenager, I spent my weekends doing kayak slalom. I sensed our economic model was at odds with the environment, and read as much as I could about it. And I realised I wanted to work on the inside where decisions are made rather protest on the outside.

Accelerating circular economy practices

Accelerating a circular economy and ambitious legislation in Europe could come to nothing without replication. With the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Stephanie is helping ensure investment in this work has global resonance and reach. Read about MAVA’s Action Plan on this subject.

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