Rene Van Berkel
School of Global Studies, Thammasat University
Bangkok, Thailand
Member ID 0055
Member since Aug 22, 2001
Status Active


Working to chart and support comprehensive and inclusive transition to circular economy and resource efficiency through applied research, industry engagement and best practices learning and policy and stakeholder dialogues with a particular focus on South East, South and East Asia


I joined Thammasat University in 2023 as International Faculty to contribute to the postgraduate programmes in social innovation and sustainability, with a particular focus on circular economy, innovation and entrepreneurship. I am contributing to business and government initiatives that aim to seed and foster circular economy transition with a particular focus on South East Asia, including through analysis and reflection of relevant business practices and business, government and stakeholders consultations. This positions circular economy as an innovation and co-creation strategy, driven by responsible business conduct, aimed at solutions for climate change, loss of nature and biodiversity and pollution and waste (in short, " net zero for climate, nature and environment") .

During 2008-20123 I worked with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). I initially served as Chief of the Cleaner and Sustainable Production Unit at its headquarters to provide leadership for the global joint UNIDO UNEP Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP) Programme, and managed technical assistance projects on RECP, (corporate) social responsibility and green industry policy in South East Asia and Eastern Europe. From 2015-2017 I was Chief Technical Advisor for UNIDO’s RECP programme in Indonesia and contributed to capacity building, policy advice, advocacy and implementation of RECP in particular in food, textile and tourism sectors. During 2017-2023 I served as UNIDO Regional Representative to provide leadership and oversight for the organisation’s inclusive and sustainable industrial development initiatives in India and the region, with a particular focus on energy and resource efficiency, (clean tech) innovation and commercialization, industrial productivity and digital transformation.

Between 2006 and 2008 I delivered research, assessment and training services to several United Nations agencies, research and teaching institutions in Australia, Japan and elsewhere and the private sector. From 1999 to 2006 I was Australia’s first full Professor of Cleaner Production, located at Curtin University of Technology in Perth. During this period I established and managed an interdisciplinary academic programme, covering cleaner production/eco-efficiency, industrial symbiosis, sustainability management and technology. From 1989 to 1999 I held various applied research and leadership roles at the University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands) in cleaner production, industrial ecology and transfer of environmentally sound technologies.

By education I am an interdisciplinary environmentalist with a PhD in Environmental and Spatial Sciences from the University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and a MAgrSc in Environmental Hygiene from the Agricultural State University of Wageningen (The Netherlands).

I have published extensively in academic, professional, policy and general media and presented at academic, industry, intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder meetings and consultations on all continents. Example publications include:
1. Van Berkel, R, (2023), Circular Manufacturing Transformation: manufacturing perspectives, examples and experiences from implementation of Circular Economy in Asia, in Ghosh, S.K and S.K. Ghosh (eds), Advancing Circular Economy: catalysing decarbonisation through policy instruments, pg 269-299, Springer Publishers, Singapore
2. Fadeeva, Z & Van Berkel, R (2023), Towards Circular Economy of Food Systems: An Explorative Appraisal of Opportunities in Fish, Seafood Value Chains. In: Narula, S.A., Raj, S.P. (eds) Sustainable Food Value Chain Development. Pg 61-86, Springer Nature, Singapore.
3. Fadeeva, F. and Van Berkel, R. (2021), Unlocking Circular Economy for Prevention of Marine Litter: an exploration of G20 policy and initiatives, in Journal of Environmental Management, Vol 277, 1 January 2021,
4. Van Berkel, R. and Z. Fadeeva (2020), Role of Industry in Circular Economy, in Gosh, S.K (ed), Waste Management as Economic Industry Towards Circular Economy, pg. 171-183, Springer Publishers, Singapore.
5. Luken, R., Van Berkel, R., Leuenberger, H. and Schwager, P (2015), A 20 Year Retrospective of the National Cleaner Production Centres Programme, Journal of Cleaner Production, 112, pg 1165-1174,
6. Van Berkel, R., Fujita, T, Hashimoto, S, and Geng, Y (2009) Industrial and Urban Symbiosis in Japan: analysis of the Eco-Town program 1997-2006 Journal of Environmental Management, Vol 90, pg 1544-1556.
7. Van Berkel, R., Fujita, T., Hashimoto, S. and Fuji, M, (2009) Quantitative Assessment of Urban and Industrial Symbiosis in Kawasaki (Japan), Environmental Science and Technology, Vol 43, pg 1271-1281,
8. Van Berkel, R., 2007, Cleaner Production and Eco-Efficiency, in Marinova, D., Annadale, D. and Phillimore, J (eds), The International Handbook on Environmental Technology Management, pg 67-93, Edgar Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, UK.,
9. Van Berkel, R., 2007, Industrial Ecology, in Marinova, D., Annadale, D. and Phillimore, J (eds), The International Handbook on Environmental Technology Management, pg 13-32, Edgar Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, UK.
10. Van Berkel, R. 2007, Eco-Efficiency in Primary Metals Production: context, perspectives and methods, Resources, Conservation & Recycling (International Journal for Sustainable Resource Management and Environmental Efficiency), Vol 51: p. 511-540,
11. Van Berkel, R., Willems, E. and Lafleur, M., 1997, The Relationship between Cleaner Production and Industrial Ecology, Journal of Industrial Ecology, Vol 1 No 1, 51-65.

Research Interests

circular economy & resource efficiency; industrial symbiosis and eco-industrial parks; innovation & digitalization; inclusive and sustainable industrial development