Barcelona, December 05, 2021.
The REFLOW project has released a series of webinars part of its Academy programme launched earlier this year, which aims at supporting the transition of other cities towards a circular economy.
Webinars are streamed live with the option to interact with the panellists by asking them questions live. Then, the recording is uploaded and shared on the REFLOW Academy website together with a summary and key takeaways from each session.
In the first webinar, Urban Metabolism For Circular Cities (a EU Green Week Partner Event 2021), Elizabeth Corbin, research director of Metabolic Institute (NL), introduces the ‘urban metabolism’ approach, a powerful tool for urban transformation. By treating the city like a living organism, the approach allows to visualize what resources a city consumes alongside the waste that’s generated. This provides a holistic view of the city – how natural systems, economic sectors, and human activities interact, and where the biggest impacts, inefficiencies and opportunities are.
Ann Louise Slot, coordinator of the Reflow Pilot in Vejle, Denmark, illustrated how the urban metabolism approach was used within Vejle circular activities. In the framework of REFLOW, the municipality of Vejle aims to reduce and recycle plastic, starting from an MFA and site-specific plastic waste and stakeholder analysis, which can inform on the right innovative ideation and prototyping with local stakeholders and the broader REFLOW experts. The project also aims to raise awareness and create a local movement towards a more circular future, by using local testing grounds to incorporate plastics into circular strategies.
Special guest Simon Clement, Senior Coordinator on Sustainable Economy and Procurement at ICLEI Europe and coordinator of City Loops, a sister project of REFLOW, provides the audience with a broader picture on how such tools and approaches are framed within the European context. Circular economy, and urban metabolism, are key ingredients of the new European Green Deal, the Circular Economy Action Plan and the EU Industrial Strategy focusing on a green and digital transition.
The second REFLOW webinar, Tools to steer the transition, experts and practitioners present different governance and strategic tools and their applications, in order to steer the transition to circular and regenerative cities. Valentina Frosini from P2P Lab introduces the new REFLOW toolkit developed as part of the governance activities of the REFLOW project: How can we frame Collaborative Governance for Circular Cities? Within REFLOW, collaborative governance can be defined as an “open-ended infrastructuring process”, that is a continuous work of providing the means for circular action, discovering and learning, within a loose steering and coordination framework that supports both present and future circular collaborations.
The REFLOW collaborative governance Toolkit is organised around strategic, operational and relational dimensions and integrates the different levers that can steer the transition towards circular cities (Baseline assessment, Prototyping and Experimentation, Capacity building). Currently, 12 specific tools have been designed (e.g. Circular theory of change, the Circular portfolio canvas, or the Matrix of circular collaboration). Each tool is described in terms of objectives, and a step-by-step approach describes how the tool can be used in practice. The tools and methods will be integrated in the Miroverse, an online platform for visual and collaborative work. Beyond the tool collection, the platform curates relevant initiatives and stories and will in its final version collect learnings and governance models from the six pilot cities of the project.
Next, Andrea Patrucco, project officer at the Municipality of Milan explains the work currently implemented in the context of REFLOW. Milan, a city with a strong background in sustainable food initiatives, is focusing within REFLOW on experimenting around a new concept of circular food markets by engaging diverse stakeholders to co-produce sustainable solutions. Municipal markets and Milan wholesale market are framed as “places to co-produce circular solutions” engaging citizens and companies by combining food flows with the experimental and entrepreneurial attitude of three Fablabs (WeMake, Open Dot and PoliFactory) and other actors (local start-ups, public companies, NGOs) focusing on circular business models in the food sector.
Finally, Researcher Claudia Alessio, from Amsterdam-based foundation Circle Economy, presents a set of tools the foundation is currently working with to support cities on their transition such as the circle city scan, a multi stakeholders process of co-developing a circular economy strategy for a city or subregion, guided by data. To accelerate and extend its impact, Circle Economy recently started developing Ganbatte, a digital tool that offers clear insights based on different sets of city data (material, emissions, employment) to help municipalities set priorities according to thematic areas (food, construction, mobility, water, energy) and implement relevant circular solutions based on an extensive collection of existing worldwide case studies. The final version of the tool will be launched in May 2022 with additional features focusing on businesses and nations.
Earlier in the year, the REFLOW Academy launched the podcasts series with host Annick van Rinsum to join one of the most important communication trends nowadays: the audio format. The REFLOW podcasts offer insights on how to adopt this multi-level approach in other sectors.
In the first episode, REFLOW speaks to Christiana Parasi, Associate Professor at Copenhagen Business School and REFLOW Project Coordinator, diving into the project itself. They talk about cities as important aggregates within the global context, about the role of citizens and creative spaces, and about how to think about the circular economy from a broader perspective.
The interviewee in the second episode is James Veenhoff, founder of House of DENIM and co-initiator of the Denim Deal, an innovative public private partnership in Amsterdam aiming at making the denim supply chain more circular. He talks about jeans, post-consumer recycling of textiles, the role of multi-level public private partnerships to accelerate systems change, and awareness approaches to visualize how circular products make an impact.
The Head of Unit, Water Governance and Circular Economy at OECD, Oriana Romano, is the special guest in the third episode of the REFLOW podcast series. Oriana explains OECD’s recent report “The Circular Economy in Cities and Regions”, which describes the potential of the circular economy to support sustainable cities, regions and countries. She highlights the importance of taking a holistic and systemic approach to transition, and discusses how governance levers covering people, policies and places can support a fair and circular transition.
In the fourth episode, our host speaks with Nancy Bocken, researcher and practitioner on circular business models. They discuss the role of business model innovation in accelerating the transition to circular economy, the importance of sufficiency to slow resource loops. Nancy also brings her insights on her venture Homie, a circular business offering pay-per-use home appliances.
The next webinar, Data-enabled circular cities: Applications and future directions, is scheduled for the 23rd of February next year. Digital technology is rapidly becoming a key enabler for unlocking the value from Circular Economy strategies. How can we harness the potential of data for public good?
External speakers will answer the main question while a series of experts and practitioners from the European REFLOW project will introduce the set of IT solutions that have been developed and implemented in six European pilot cities, and discuss how to scale up a data-enabled circular transition to other European cities.
The REFLOW OS is an operating system for communities who want to create federated and secure economic networks to foster the creation and coordination of distributed value chains. It is a system designed to operate federated nodes constituting the REFLOW network back-end infrastructure. It is targeted for adoption by the Free and Open Source communities at large and consists of a living document that is publicly available online and maintained through the course of the REFLOW project. ReflowOS is an operating system for communities who want to create federated and secure economic networks to foster the creation and coordination of distributed value chains.
In addition to the Academy resources, the project offers a special space to continue the conversation on the REFLOW Forum.
REFLOW is an EU Horizon 2020 research project running from 2019-2022, which aims to enable the transition of European cities towards circular and regenerative practices. The project will provide the best practices aligning market and government needs in order to create favorable conditions for the public and private sector to adopt circular economy practices. REFLOW is creating new CE business models within six pilot cities: Amsterdam, Berlin, Cluj-Napoca, Milan, Paris, and Vejle and assessing their social, environmental and economic impact, by enabling active citizen involvement and systemic change to re-think the current approach to material flows in cities.
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