The great social and environmental challenges facing the world require a radical revision of the conventional development model.
The circular economic model represents a new paradigm which proposes rethinking the current model, combining innovation, competitiveness and sustainability, enabling to achieve the objectives established by the Paris Agreement on climate change and the United Nations 2030 Agenda on sustainable development.
Half a decade ago, a prominent economist postulated that “The future of the planet is being decided in the cities”. Currently more than 80% of the world's economic production is generated by cities, but it is also where global challenges are most critical. Not only do they concentrate more than half of the world's population, but they also consume more than 75% of the natural resources, produce more than 50% of global waste, consume two-thirds of the energy and issue close to 70% of worldwide carbon emissions.
The challenges that cities must face are urgent, therefore, they are one of the hot spots for the implementation of a new economy. To imagine the cities of the future in terms of a better quality of life, following an approach based on the circular economy represents a great opportunity.
At Enel, the concept of “circular city” comes after the concept of “smart city”. In this vision, the transition from a “smart” city to a “circular” city consists in the transition from a vision focused mainly on innovation, technology and infrastructure and the advantages that these can offer, to a vision where technologies continue to play an important role, but are inserted in a broad and cross-sectoral vision, in which the objectives are economic competitiveness, environmental sustainability and social inclusion.
Between 2018 and 2020, Enel published 3 position papers in which, in addition to setting out its vision on circular cities, their different aspects are analyzed. The first edition published in 2018 focused upon the main challenges of cities in respect to the cities of the future and how the circular economy opens up new possibilities towards the development of fundamental aspects for the cities of the future. On the other hand, the second edition on how an innovative governance, where the capacity for active reception and inclusion plays a fundamental role, and where it is possible to arrest the increasing marginalization, thanks to the logic of a development model and a new humanism, may cope with the complex social, economic and environmental issues of metropolises. Finally, the third study published in 2020 entitled "Circular Cities - Cities of Tomorrow" examines how the urban landscapes in the future may achieve environmental sustainability, social inclusion and economic competitiveness through distributed governance.
 Interview with Nicholas Stern, Diario El Mundo.