Since 2014, Flanders’ Agency for Public Waste, Materials and Soil OVAM, governs the policy program 'Material-aware construction through circular supply chains’ (in Dutch: Materiaalbewust bouwen in kringlopen). Its aim is establishing, in the Belgian region of Flanders, an economy of closed material loops through socio-technical innovation in the built environment. Its focus is not arbitrary. According to the 2004 report of the United Nations Environment Program and the 2006 figures of Eurostat, construction initiates half of the worldwide consumption of raw materials, and building demolition is responsible for 45% of Europe’s waste.

Adopting a life cycle approach on buildings, the program includes different innovation tracs (including waste recycling, urban mining, design for reuse, and material assessment) and increasingly more concrete policy initiatives. Only by looking at the complex value network of construction, involving a plethora actors and material flows, it was understood that making structural changes in this and other Flemish sectors, would be a challenge. A transition approach was therefore considered a suitable starting point for governing the necessary changes.

As an intermediate reflection on the policy program, to learn about the adopted transition approach and guide OVAM in its youngest policy initiative, we reviewed which innovation in the agency’s policy occurred since 2014, how the related actions were designed, and how their organization contributed to the envisioned aim. This reflection is based on a Learning History workshop and a series of interviews with OVAM and its partners. In this paper, the results are presented through a Multi-Phase and Multi-Level Perspective analysis of socio-technical transitions.

Moreover, as a lead partner, we integrated the lessons-learnt in the design and organization of the youngest policy initiative of OVAM: a living lab on circular construction (in Dutch: Proeftuin Circulair Bouwen). Therefore, we discuss in this paper, the lab as an example of innovative innovation policy. Its design and organization are characterized by for example a strong co-creation process supported by system research, and by actively connecting forerunners and followers through learning networks and transition arena’s depending on the participants transition-phase. The living lab initiative started in December 2018 and will be fed by sequential project calls until the end of 2022.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProc. of the 4th International Conference on Public Policy
PublisherInternational Public Policy Association
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2019
EventInternational Conference on Public Policy - University of Concordia, Montreal, Canada
Duration: 26 Jun 201928 Jun 2019


ConferenceInternational Conference on Public Policy
Abbreviated titleICPP4
Internet address

ID: 48807743