The self-paced “circular propeller” in Serbia
I had a dream.
It happened while I was in a cocoon where money meant a lot – the sign of success that i was chasing after. And I was pretty good at that.
But this dream made me realise that something was so fundamentally flawed with this system that I had to rethink the kind of “success” I truly want.
The dream, and my renewed perception of “success” then became “to change the way of business through a new way of thinking”.
Committed to that, I started with myself. I left the expensive business suits for student sneakers and never regreted that decision. Because the MIND (Erasmus Mundus Masters of Industrial Ecology) program, spanning two years and two countries, has then lead me to the concept of circular economy, which has given me new lens to examine our whole system through and question the current linear system. How to circularise our way of life, i.e. the way we build, the way we produce and to supply just what we really need for a prosperous civilisation became the ultimate philosophical question for me. And my work pushing the transition to circular economy forward let me reflect upon it everyday.
I’m now back home in a small country named Serbia, aka Servia, Srbija, and Srbistan, where the majority of people have no clue what circular economy is. I’m trying to change that, which of course entails a lot of explaining and consulting.
But that’s not the whole story. Policymakers, businessmen and the academics all speak different languages and the circular economy principles applied in their fields of expertise vary significantly. Very often an insider is a necessity to convene the importance and benefits of a circular economy. So as an agent of change, I work to make such connections, so that capacity could be built on a systems level.
One may say:
“All right mister, it all sounds like empty stories here. What have you really done so far?”
My profession on circular economy actually officially started with my master thesis, titled “Backcasting of the development and diffusion of circular economy in transition economy countries. The example of the Republic of Serbia “. It tried to answer the question: How circular economy should be developed in countries resemble Serbia, neither rich or poor.
The outcome of my thesis was a roadmap answering exactly that question. And instead of letting it sit in a drawer, I have been following it step by step in action ever since.
I have done two research projects for MOVECO , which explored connection points between waste management, eco-innovation and circular economy development in Serbia and Montenegro.
I have designed a circular economy knowledge and experience transfer program for the serbian industries called “ACADEMY FOR CIRCULAR ECONOMY “, aka “ACE”
I have made a thorough situational analysis for the city of Kragujevac, and based on the findings, an NGO consisting of six spirited young professionals has been founded to take the bottom up approach changing how waste is perceived in our culture. We named it “Un BeSo “. Cute, ay? It stands for- “UNited for a BEtter SOciety ” .
Last but not least, I am also really proud to be part of the Climate-KIC team, where we are figuring out how and where to implement circular economy principles in EUROPE and beyond following the principles of Innovation Labs. I’m beyond excited to see how we can advance this field of work.
Who would have guessed that one master thesis could lead to such a follow up?
In 2018, I have three goals.
- Improve policies. To have a thorough understanding of the institutional barriers that we have to work on and influence national strategies to better capture the benefits of a transition to circular economy.
- Engage academia. To build at least one educational program on circular economy.
- Upscale innovation. Help startups and innovative SMEs to experiment circular practice here and abroad.
I know I know, it seems I will be a busy man this year for sure.
But if you have any questions or suggestions for my work, hit me an email at Milan.Veselinov@Gmail.com and I’ll be happy to connect with you.