Urenio Watch Watch: Cities

REFLOW: Co-Creating Circular Resource Flows in Cities

REFLOW Approach: Sally Bourdon, Manuela Reyes Guerrero. IAAC
REFLOW Approach: Sally Bourdon, Manuela Reyes Guerrero. IAAC

REFLOW is an EU H2020 project, from 2019 to 2022, that seeks to understand and transform urban material flows and to co-create and test circular and regenerative solutions in urban and peri-urban areas across Europe. The vision of REFLOW is to develop circular and regenerative cities through the re-localisation of production and the reconfiguration of material flows at different scales, leveraging Fab Labs and makerspaces as catalysts for wide-scale collaboration and co-creation conducive to systemic, sustainable change. The project operates at the international level, mobilising existing networks and movements that are working towards a new productive model for cities such as Circular Cities, C40 Cities and Fab City Global Initiative.

REFLOW builds on the concept of the ‘˜urban metabolism’ which seeks to understand the city and its surrounding region through the lens of biological systems, and technical processes.

The project aims to provide realistic best practices aligning market and government needs in order to create favourable conditions for the public and private sector to adopt circular principles. To provide critical examples of ways in which cities can adopt a CE model and reach the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, REFLOW will create new CE business models (Distributed Design Market model, On-Demand System, Corporate Hacking and Corporate Pyramid) within 6 pilot cities (Amsterdam, Berlin, Cluj-Napoca, Milan, Paris, Vejle) and assess their social, environmental and economic impact.   Each of the cities is specialised on one specific resource or industry: textiles, trade faires, plastics, agrifood, housing & electricity.  The pilots are focusing on how actors and stakeholders– from industry, SMEs, government grassroots innovators and civic society– are able to co-create and implement circular economy practices at the neighborhood and city levels. The pilots will engage the most important resource of a city: the citizens.

The project will make use of blockchain technologies to incentivise the circular practices in local ecosystems and create data visualisation tools to enable continuous monitoring and optimisation of “urban   metabolic’ processes and rapid intervention management. Networks of sensors, urban computing and geo-localisation will capture data ensuring accuracy, integrity and interoperability of relevant data infrastructures, while data visualisation and standard templates will be available for effective communication, public consultation, and exchange of experiences.

This allows REFLOW to provide sound economic ground for the redefinition of material flows in urban and peri-urban areas. In order to achieve this goal, REFLOW will design and implement specific methodologies and models to test new forms of circular governance. In addition, it will test a new multidimensional and multi-stakeholder performance management system to foster the development of local manufacturing ecosystems, and emerging business models.

Outputs of the project:

  • Handbook: The HB provides insights and learnings to foster, assess, and monitor the transition towards establishing circular and regenerative cities. It can be found here.
  • Toolkit: The “Productie Cities Toolkit’ aims at supporting urban systems to adopt and implement circular practices in local manufacturing and innovation policies by facilitating the deployment of methods and tools for co-creation and decision making processes.
  • Documentation: The project’ s people-centered approach will be shaped by conducting fieldwork in the pilot cities meant to understand citizen and institutional behavior. Doing so will allow REFLOW to best understand what is really needed in cities while also helping to establish partnerships between local actors and the pilot programs. Research will also be conducted to understand 1) potential CE governance and business models and 2) the city metabolism, anatomy, and resilience index and consolidate data in order to assess their impact on the circular economy strategy.
  • Business Strategies: REFLOW will co-create, design and implement specific methodologies and models allowing pilot cities to test new forms of circular governance to foster the development of local manufacturing ecosystems and emerging business models.
  • Platforms: REFLOW will develop and implement an Open Data Dashboard: a decision-making tool for policy makers and stakeholders to enable flexible and innovative urban planning approaches.
  • Webinars: Webinars will be used throughout the project as an interactive educational tool.

REFLOW takes advantage of the current shift in recognition of the benefits of CE coupled with the technological revolution to build practical, tested solutions to transition cities towards circular and regenerative models that conceptualise the impact urbanisation has on the planet. By engaging multiple scales of the city, from citizens to policy makers, it aims to develop long-lasting social impact in which outputs such as Handbooks and Toolkits are readily accessible and able to be implemented across European cities and beyond.

You can find the project’s website here.

You can find the White Paper here.