The cracks in the systems of our society are evident. Short-term fixes, or working on only subdomains such as energy or material Circularity, are becoming irrelevant in the face of the underlying challenges. There is a need for more systemic, long-term, and holistic approaches. Circularity is only a part of that approach and not necessarily the most important one.
Symbiosis in Development (SiD) is a practical framework for integrated sustainable development based on holistic systems and design thinking. It creates a shared language in which words such as ‘Circularity’ and ‘Sustainability’ receive definitions that allow them to be related to each other. We use SiD to look at how a narrow focus on Circularity leads us astray, being only one among several systemic parameters that matter. Circularity does not create social harmony by itself and can conflict with systemic resilience. This article is not negating the value of Circularity. Instead, it argues that the often singular focus of the Circular Economy on the material resource domain does not help the global community, the climate accords including Paris, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to achieve their goals, and urges to include a more holistic and long-term perspective.