A first summer school divided between Montreal, Paris and Brussels

In June 2019, some 50 students, young researchers and professionals discovered the experiments and strategies for the circular economy in three major French-speaking metropolitan areas: Montreal, Brussels and Paris. Visits were organised as part of the first "Cities, regions and the circular economy" summer school.

How are Montreal, Brussels and Paris breaking with the linear economy (take-make-consume-throw away)? What strategies do they implement in the areas of waste recycling, food supply or even the rehabilitation of industrial buildings? To find out how the three major cities answer these questions, students, young researchers, entrepreneurs and professionals in urban planning, architecture and urban economics participated in the first “Cities, regions and the circular economy” summer school. Organised by the Université de Montréal, the Université Libre de Bruxelles, IFSTTAR
and the “Urban Metabolism” group of the Futurs Urbains Labex, this summer event took place from 16 to 30 June 2019. “For two weeks, the participants went out in the field to discover a large number of trials and exchange ideas with project leaders and local authorities, for example. The objective was to show them what these cities
are doing and how to set up a circular economy project, what difficulties are encountered, the organisational methods chosen, etc.”, explains Corinne Blanquart, director of IFSTTAR’s AME department and French coordinatorof the summer school.

“The circular economy is a much discussed topic but it is still an emerging field of research”


At the end of two weeks of meetings and visits, the participants made documentaries of about five minutes each on subjects such as land, short supply chains, commons... These videos were shown on the closing evening, and are now available on the Metabolism of Cities YouTube channel. Supported by the Grand Paris metropolis and the “Circular Economy and Urban Metabolism” research chair founded in September 2019, the summer school will be held for several years. “The circular economy is a much discussed topic but it is still an emerging field of research so we need to continue to develop the tools and methods to implement it or successfully scale it up”, Corinne Blanquart concludes.

Let’s hear from some of the participants

Agnès Bastin, doctoral student in sociology and urban studies (Sciences Po Paris)

“A summer school on the theme of circular economy is a rare opportunity in the academic world. It allows projects to have a greater impact and see what can potentially be replicated. I liked the survey and analysis methodology we used for interviews with food chain stakeholders in Montreal. The visit to the Lavallée eco-neighbourhood site in Châtenay-Malabry was also very informative. It’s interesting to see how a large developer perceives the circular economy and incorporates the recycling and re-use of building materials into its strategy”.


Sonia Veyssière, doctoral student in economics  (ADEME / Université du Littoral / IFSTTAR)

“During my visit to Montreal I was surprised to find many local stakeholders who were involved in circular economy activities, even in the absence of an institutional strategy on the topic. The workshop on Sankey diagrams and the workshop on the prospective co-design method in Montreal, the bike tour of the Brussels urban farms, making a video documentary based on our meetings, visits and discussions…The summer school encourages you to ask questions, particularly about the role of land in the circular economy”.