Key takeaways

from the REFLOW governance approach

So far, REFLOW's Collaborative governance approach is based on the knowledge developed from the research on different city models. However, our hope is that this open and iterative tool will evolve as well, expanding the resources provided according to what we experiment, co-create, test and learn across the multiple aspects of the REFLOW project.

Below, we recap the key points that have emerged from our preliminary research. Each point should be considered when approaching ambitious plans and strategies for the transition to circular and regenerative cities:

  • Takeaway 1: The circular economy can go well beyond an economic paradigm rooted in environmental sustainability. It is an opportunity for social regeneration, social cohesion and inclusion, which can open to new socially purposeful activities, jobs and enterprises.

  • Takeaway 2: Effective circular strategies and policies at the city level need to embrace the whole spectrum of domains and sectors traditionally governed by cities. As such, cities can be unique testbeds for overcoming ‘silos’ in policy-making and boost inter-departmental collaboration. Equally, they can open to new partnerships and alliances built on public-private-people approaches and governance arrangements.

  • Takeaway 3: Citizen engagement in the circular economy is a fundamental element to igniting an inclusive transition and making it thrive. Cities are uniquely positioned to work with local communities in order to create and support a mesh of citizens-led initiatives that, all together, can form a vibrant and self-sustainable environment supporting circular and regenerative practices.

  • Takeaway 4: No circular transition can meaningfully happen without creating an enabling regulatory framework. Cities are uniquely positioned to work with local actors in order to understand hindering factors and barriers, and thus to provide informed and aware insights at different governmental levels - with a key focus on the EU level.

  • Takeaway 5: Tech innovation can be either directed towards corporate-led transitions, or rather support more inclusive and participatory processes that also contribute to make cities smarter. Distributed ledgers, smart contracts, smart regulations, open data and digital commons are some examples of digital assets that can be used to turn the circular economy into a ground for public value creation.

  • Takeaway 6: Governance is not an isolated concept. It interacts with the many different elements of REFLOW-- from technological developments to skill and knowledge building and more-- and in fact depends on their development in order to be successful.

  • Takeaway 7: There is no one size fits all solution to governance. The inclusion of different urban models and case studies illustrates the different approaches and best practices that currently exist. However, the idea is not to copy a model or initiative but rather to notice the practices in your own city and adapt the models and initiatives according to your city’s own local context to best meet your needs.

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