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The Role of Higher Education Institutions in the Implementation of Circular Economy in Latin America

Daniel A. Salas (), Paulina Criollo () and Angel D. Ramirez ()
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Daniel A. Salas: Facultad de Ingeniería en Mecánica y Ciencias de la Producción, Escuela Superior Politecnica del Litoral, ESPOL, Campus Gustavo Galindo, Km 30.5 Vía Perimetral, P.O. Box 13 09-01-5863, Guayaquil 090902, Ecuador
Paulina Criollo: Facultad de Ingeniería en Mecánica y Ciencias de la Producción, Escuela Superior Politecnica del Litoral, ESPOL, Campus Gustavo Galindo, Km 30.5 Vía Perimetral, P.O. Box 13 09-01-5863, Guayaquil 090902, Ecuador
Angel D. Ramirez: Facultad de Ingeniería en Mecánica y Ciencias de la Producción, Escuela Superior Politecnica del Litoral, ESPOL, Campus Gustavo Galindo, Km 30.5 Vía Perimetral, P.O. Box 13 09-01-5863, Guayaquil 090902, Ecuador

Sustainability, 2021, vol. 13, issue 17, 1-27

Abstract: Circular economy (CE) describes a sustainable alternative approach to the current linear economy system. It is a growing topic among scholars, practitioners, and decisionmakers; it encompasses several concepts related to sustainability and requires the synergy of multiple actors for success, including higher education institutions (HEIs) as one of the most relevant ones. Current CE is based mostly on experiences in Global North developed countries, where the concept has gained great attention and has already influenced policies and strategies. However, CE in Latin American countries (LA countries) have not yet received such attention. Thus, some “unique problems” may remain unattended, and efforts to attain a CE are more likely to fail. Likewise, the study shows how the role of HEIs in CE in LA countries has not yet been fully explored, as the literature on this topic is scarce. This paper aims to address the main research question: what is the role of HEIs in the transition to a CE in Latin American countries? For this, a two-fold methodology was performed: (i) a systematic review which allows understanding of the trends of CE research in LA and the extent of the HEIs involvement; and (ii) a narrative review, which provides insights into the state of the art of CE research (gaps, drivers, and barriers) in LA countries and how this relates to HEIs. This approach drew implications for the role of HEIs in the implementation of CE in LA countries. HEIs are key actors in this transition, contributing in several ways to the CE by collaborating with industry, assisting policy makers, building human and intellectual capital, supporting community engagement projects, influencing campus culture, linking with international CE networks, and promoting an inclusive CE discourse. This research contributes to the CE body of knowledge from a Latin-American Global South perspective by discussing the factors that aim to define the role of HEIs in the CE transition in LA countries.

Keywords: circular economy; Latin America; higher education institutions; industrial ecology; developing countries; bibliometric analysis; systematic review (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O13 Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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