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Knowledge category: Tools and methods

REFLOW Handbook

Updated on 09.12.2022

The vision of the REFLOW project was to develop circular and regenerative cities through the re-localisation of production and the reconfiguration of material flows at different scales. This handbook was designed by the project as a tool to help cities navigate and engage in this transition. It is focused on practical, intuitive and easy-to-implement co-creation methodologies.

Author: REFLOW project
Year of update: 2019

More information

REFLOW was a Horizon 2020 project, active from 2019 to 2022, which set out 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 REFLOW Handbook was designed to support the project’s pilot cities – Amsterdam, Berlin, Cluj-Napoca, Milan, Paris and Vejle – and their local partners. Now the project has ended, the handbook is available to any city interested in transitioning – or in any step of the transition process – to become a more circular and regenerative city.

Relevance for Circular Systemic Solutions

The handbook reflects on city practices and pinpoints which strategies could contribute to reinforcing local initiatives, covering and integrating relevant value chains. The handbook suggests and explains in detail the steps for cities to engage in the transition towards a circular model, providing high-level guidance.

The handbook includes the REFLOW Collaborative Governance Approach, which is a detailed framework that can help frame and design collaborative governance arrangements.

It also provides summaries of and links to other useful tools, including a Systemic Design Toolkit and Circular Design Toolkit. All of these tools may be useful and helpful for cities at different stages of design and development of their local strategies and Circular Systemic Solutions.

How to use this tool or method

The user can navigate the handbook via the menu, by clicking on the following sections: steps towards a circular city; policy frameworks; city models and urban governance; and tools and methods.

The handbook is written in a way that is designed to be accessible to a wide range of stakeholders, no matter their background.

Type of tool or method

Strategy design and decision making


Environmental pollution and land use

Increased recycling rates


Competitiveness and innovation

Stakeholder and citizens mobilisation, engagement and participation

Social aspects

Stakeholder participation

including citizens

Awareness raising and education

all actors

Territories involved


large 500 000-200 000, medium 200 000-50 000, and small cities 50 000-5 000