• Overview
  • Documents
  • Partners
  • Program
  • Logistics

The first Great Lakes Circular Economy Forum occured in Toronto from 25-26 June 2019 at the Toronto Reference Library. Co-convened by UN Environment North America, the City of Toronto and the Council of the Great Lakes Region, the Forum was a compelling bi-national dialogue on promoting circular economy in the Great Lakes region. 

The Great Lakes region is uniquely positioned for a transition to a circular economy because of its tightly integrated industries and its strong cross-border collaborations. Shifting towards circularity holds great promise for improving resource efficiency, promoting innovation and helping drive economic growth. As the largest body of freshwater on the planet, maximizing sustainability and minimizing waste in the Great Lakes region is essential for safeguarding our future.

The Great Lakes Circular Economy Forum brought together key stakeholders - including major cities of the Great Lakes region and key companies and industries – to generate a shared vision of how to move towards more circular markets and economies in the region, and the type of partnerships and collaborations needed to achieve this. The Forum served as a milestone in the lead up to Canada hosting of the World Circular Economy Forum in 2020.

Please find the Summary Document here.




            council toronto     unEnvirontmet


                   susuzi         closed_loops



canada           Ontario


                     elle          Eli    circular 



United Nations Environment Programme North America

  • UN Environment is the leading environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes implementation of the environmental dimensions of the Sustainable Development Goals, and serves as an advocate for the environment worldwide. UN Environment provides data, policy and program support in partnership with countries and other stakeholders around the world, to tackle core environmental challenges. The goal of UN Environment North America is to support this mission and help generate impact in relation to key environmental challenges - both in the region and globally. We accomplish this through strategic partnerships and initiatives with scientific, philanthropic, the private sector, governmental and non-governmental actors, and by deploying our convening power and the authority of our UN platform to bring influential stakeholders together to generate solutions and spark action.

City of Toronto

  • Toronto is Canada's largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of more than 2.9 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked as one of the world's most livable cities. As part of its Long-Term Waste Management Strategy, the City of Toronto is working towards an aspirational goal of zero waste and a Circular Economy. To drive circular innovation and growth in Toronto, the City has established a Unit for Research, Innovation & a Circular Economy. The Unit is involved in research and planning as well as incorporating Circular Economy principles into new programs, policies, procurement and processes. Toronto is a member of the National Zero Waste Council (NZWC) Circular Economy Working Group as well as the global Circular Economy 100 (CE100) network, created by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and is working to become the first circular city in the Province of Ontario.

Council of the Great Lakes Region

  • Launched in 2013, the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR), a binational, non-partisan, member-driven organization, is the foremost gathering of leaders from all levels of government, business, academia, and the nonprofit sector in the Great Lakes region who share a commitment to creating a stronger and more dynamic culture of collaboration across the border and key sectors in harnessing the region’s economic strengths and assets, improving the well-being and prosperity of the region’s citizens, and protecting the environment for future generations. It achieves this mandate by: 1) hosting the annual Great Lakes Economic Forum and convening other cross-border dialogues on socio-economic and environmental issues that underpin the region’s competitiveness and long-term sustainability, 2) commissioning and conducting evidence-based policy research to identify new solutions or region-wide strategies that position the Great Lakes as the most prosperous, innovative, livable and welcoming region in the world, and 3) creating a stronger regional voice on issues of broad interest to the region through government advocacy, public awareness, and its Current magazine. The Council is governed by an independent board of directors, and is comprised of a Canadian nonprofit corporation (CGLR Canada), an Ohio nonprofit corporation classified as a 501(c)(6) trade association (CGLR USA), and an Ohio nonprofit corporation classified as a 501(c)(3) public charity (CGLR Foundation).


Core Group

David Suzuki Foundation

Closed Loop Partners

Council of the Great Lakes Region

UNEP North America

UNEP North America

Annette Synowiec

UNEP Economy Division

The Forum is an invitation-only, bi-national dialogue that aims to promote the transition to a circular economy in the Great Lakes region, North America’s economic engine. The Forum will cover a series of thematic sessions and cross-cutting issues (see below) that will be addressed in plenary format, and we are counting on the full engagement and contribution of all participants to this meaningful conversation. 


Full Program

Thematic Sessions

  1. Contextualizing the Circular Economy
    Organized by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation
  1. Circular Economy in the Great Lakes Region
    Organized by the Council of the Great Lakes Region & David Suzuki Foundation
  1. Role of Government in Advancing Circularity
    Organized by the City of Toronto & UN Environment North America
  1. Enabling Business and Industry Engagement
    Organized by the Circular Economy Leadership Coalition
  1. Role of Technology and Innovation
    Organized by Closed Loop Partners & the Environmental Law Institute


Full Session Summaries

Cross-cutting Themes

  • Equity and social inclusion in the transition to circularity 
  • Role of big data and the digital transformation
  • Finance and investment challenges and opportunities
  • Role of First Nations and indigenous peoples


The Great Lakes Circular Economy Forum will be held at the Bran & Bluma Appel Salon in the Toronto Reference Library from 25-26 June 2019. The Bran & Bluma Appel Salon is on the second floor of the Library.

The Toronto Reference Library is located at the heart of city and a few kilometers from Lake Ontario. The Library is one block north of Bloor Street on the east side of the vibrant Yonge Street. The surrounding neighborhood is filled with restaurants, hotels, galleries and other cultural attractions. For information on restaurants and things to see and do in Toronto, please visit Tourism Toronto.

A pre-Forum reception will be hosted by the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, between 18:30 and 20:00 on 24 June. The reception will take place a few blocks away from the Reference Library, at Queen’s Park, the site of the Ontario Legislative Building.


Getting to Toronto

Toronto is a metropolitan city that is easily accessible by plane, train, car and public transit.

By plane: The closest airports are the Toronto Pearson International Airport and the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. The Toronto Pearson International Airport is about 25 km from the venue and has multiple ground transportation options to Toronto, including train, shuttle and ride sharing. The Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is about 6 km from the venue and services over 20 cities in Canada and the U.S. The airport offers shuttle and curbside pick-up and drop-off.

By train: Union Station is approximately 4 km away from the venue and connected to Toronto’s subway, streetcar and bus systems. The station is serviced by the Toronto Transit Commission, Go Transit, UP Express, VIA Rail Canada, Amtrak and Greyhound.

By car: If you are planning on driving to the Forum, paid parking lots are available on Asquith Avenue and Church Street.

By public transit: The closest public transit stations to the Reference Library are the Bloor-Yonge TTC subway station, Bay Street bus station and Wellesley Street bus station.


Staying in Toronto

The area surrounding the library has dozens of vacation rentals through Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO and hotel options that are within walking distance to the library. A few nearby hotels are listed below for your convenience. A more complete list of accommodations can be viewed on Google map online or the Tourism Toronto website.

Four Seasons Hotel Toronto (0.2 km from Library)

60 Yorkville Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M4W 0A4


Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville (0.3 km from Library)

90 Bloor Street East, Toronto M4W 1A7


The Anndore House (0.5 km from Library)

15 Charles St E, Toronto, ON M4Y 1S1, Canada


The Hazelton Hotel (0.5 km from Library)

118 Yorkville Avenue, Toronto, ON M5R 1C2


Windsor Arms Hotel (0.6 km from Library)

18 St Thomas Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3E7


Avalon Suites Yorkville, Toronto (0.7 km from Library)

155 Yorkville Avenue, Toronto, ON, M5R 1C4, Canada


Bellamond Suites (0.7 km from Library)

155 Yorkville Ave, Toronto, ON M5R 1C4, Canada


Downtown Home Inn (0.9 km from Library)

2 Monteith St, Toronto, ON M4Y 1K7, Canada


Courtyard by Marriott Toronto Downtown (1.3 km from Library)

475 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4Y 1X7


Kimpton Saint George Hotel (1.4 km from Library)

280 Bloor Street W, Toronto, ON M5S 1V8

(416) 968-0010

Holiday Inn Toronto Downtown Centre (1.4 km from Library)

30 Carlton Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2E9


Chelsea Hotel, Toronto (1.9 km from Library)

33 Gerrard Street W, Toronto, ON M5G 1Z4