Pierre Koppes, Wiltz town councillor: “When the government proposed that we become a circular economy ‘hotspot’ we jumped at the chance.”
Photo: Marion Dessard (archives)
Situated in the Luxembourg Ardennes, the commune of Wiltz has a long and varied history, with the first documentary evidence of inhabitation dating back as far as 764. Previously home to the Celts, Romans and Francs, the modern-day commune is now looking to attract a new population thanks to its status as a circular economy “hotspot”.
Wiltz was designated a circular economy “hotspot” in October 2015 by the government as an initial step in its ambitious plan to transform Luxembourg into a circular economy, which it views as crucial to long-term economic survival. Wiltz town councillor Pierre Koppes explains why his commune was chosen and provides an update on progress so far.
Delano: Why was Wiltz chosen as a circular economy “hotspot”?
Pierre Koppes: Wiltz is home to abandoned former industrial sites and the town council was looking for ways to reclaim this land and put it to good use once again. When the government proposed that we become a circular economy “hotspot” we jumped at the chance. The idea is that we be a “laboratory” in Luxembourg for circular economy projects, which can then be used as a model for other communes.
What new projects have been launched under this programme?
A Circular Economy Charter was signed on 9 February 2018 as a guide to our future activities in this regard and several major projects have been launched. The biggest of these is the “Wunne mat der Wooltz” urban redevelopment project [editor’s note: see this article for more details on its progress]. Another project looks at how we deal with waste and seeks to allow our material and human resources to retain their usefulness and value for as long as possible.
Several construction projects have also been launched, including the Weidinger project and the renovation of our town hall itself. Analyses are currently being carried out to see what can be done, and how, for the town hall refurbishment. We hope to start work by autumn this year and be in our newly renovated offices in two years’ time.
A new school complex is presently at the planning stage on the “Wunne mar der Wooltz” site. If we hope to attract the anticipated 2,200 new inhabitants, we need to make sure that they have access to schools, crèches, etc. We are also looking at the possibility of a moveable parking lot that can be constructed, then taken apart and transported somewhere else should the need arise.
For the last two years we have been applying “sharing economy” principles with existing local businesses to see where they can pool certain resources to avoid unnecessary waste and expense.
How will these projects benefit Wiltz and its residents?
In the long-term via the many benefits of a circular economy, particularly the possibility of living in a community that respects the environment and does not waste resources. Living in a home or going to work in smart buildings that are healthy or going to state-of-the-art schools that are also healthy places for our children.
The projects will also attract investment and new business into their area, creating new employment opportunities and, thus, new residents. An improved roads infrastructure is also something that the commune sorely needs and will greatly benefit from. Finally, they should breathe new life into the tourist industry as visitors come to learn from our experiences.