• Overview
  • Partners
  • Core Group
  • Sessions
  • Contact

The first Great Lakes Circular Economy Forum will take place in Toronto from 25-26 June 2019. Co-convened by UN Environment North America, the City of Toronto and the Council of the Great Lakes Region, the Forum is an invitation-only, 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 will bring 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 will also provide a milestone in the lead up to Canada hosting of the World Circular Economy Forum in 2020.

Invited participants, please RSVP 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).

David Suzuki Foundation

Closed Loop Partners

Council of the Great Lakes Region

UNEP North America

UNEP North America

City of Toronto

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 (see below) and cross-cutting issues that will be addressed in plenary format, and we are counting on the full engagement and contribution of all participants to this meaningful conversation.

  1. Contextualizing the Circular Economy
    Organized by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation
  1. Unleashing the Potential of a Circular Economy in the Great Lakes Region
    Organized by the Council for the Great Lakes Region & David Suzuki Foundation
  1. Emerging Roles of Government in Advancing the Circular Economy
    Organized by the City of Toronto & UN Environment North America
  1. Enabling Business and Industry Engagement in the Circular Economy
    Organized by the Circular Economy Leadership Coalition
  1. Catalyzing the Circular Economy through Technology and Innovation
    Organized by Closed Loop Partners & the Environment Law Institute


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


Jannet Vu

Environmental Affairs, North America Office
UN Environment 

Email: j[email protected]
Telephone: +1 (202) 621-5039


Hayley Coolbaugh

Executive Assistant, North America Office
UN Environment 

Email: [email protected] 
Telephone: +1 (202) 997-2058