REFLOW Capacity Building Toolkit

The REFLOW Capacity Building Toolkit (RCBT) is a ‘how to’ resource supporting and sustaining the design and development of capacity building for the transition to circular and regenerative cities. The RCBT is developed by the REFLOW project.

This toolkit aims to offer a set of practical resources to assist cities and their local stakeholders in developing a capacity building programme that can enable them to reach their circular economy objectives.

The toolkit aims to be a useful guide for setting up a step by step approach to develop new skills and competences towards circular economy.

The toolkit primarily aims to support the pilot cities of the REFLOW project, i.e. Amsterdam, Berlin, Cluj-Napoca, Milan, Paris and Vejle and their local partners.

It is also designed to be a useful resource to any city interested in transitioning– or in any step of the transition process- to a more circular and regenerative city.

Capacity has been described variously in the literature. It can be described as the ability to perform tasks and produce outputs, to define and solve problems, and make informed choices (EuropeAid), the ability of an organisation to function as a resilient, strategic and autonomous entity (Kaplan, 1999); the ability of people, organisations and society as a whole to manage their affairs successfully (OECD, 2006); the ability of individuals, organisations and societies to set and achieve their own development objectives (UNDP 2008); and the ability of a human system to perform, sustain itself and self-renew (Ubels, Acquaye-Baddoo and Fowler, 2010).
Similarly, capacity building can be defined as the process by which individuals and organizations obtain, improve, and retain the skills, knowledge, tools, equipment and other resources needed to do their jobs competently. It is the process by which people, organizations and society systematically stimulate and develop their capability over time to achieve societal and economic goals, including through improvement of knowledge, skills, systems, and institutions – within a wider social and cultural enabling environment.
Closely associated to capacity building is capacity development (CD), the process by which people and organizations create and strengthen their capacity over time. Support to capacity development is the inputs and processes that external actors can deliver to catalyse or support capacity development of persons, an organization, or a network of organizations (Institutional Assessment and Capacity Development, why what and how? 2005). UNDP defines capacity development as: “the process through which individuals, organizations and societies obtain, strengthen and maintain the capabilities to set and achieve their own development objectives over time” (Capacity Assessment Practice Note, 2008).
The process specifically means that individuals acquire technical and managerial expertise and performance capabilities. It also means organisations and communities acquire and mainstream systems, processes and structures to become more efficient and effective. It also allows individuals and organizations perform at a greater capacity.

 Capacity building can be addressed at different levels, individual, organizational, systems levels.

At the individual level, capacity building refers to the process of changing attitude and behavior, typically through knowledge, skills exchange and training. it requires the development of conditions that allow individual participants to build and enhance knowledge and skills. It also refers to other mechanisms such as learning-by-doing, participation and the exercise of ownership.
At the organisational level capacity building involves strengthening performance and function. It does this by developing mandates, tools, guidelines and management information systems that facilitate and catalyse organisational change. It is also concerned with strengthening the relationship between individuals in the organisational setting and their links to their environment.
At the system level (the “enabling environment”), capacity building is concerned with the overall policy, economic, regulatory and accountability frameworks within which organisations and individuals operate. Relationships and processes between organisations, both formal and informal, as well as their mandates, are also important.
Capacities at the three dimensions are interlinked: individuals, organizations and the enabling environment are parts of a whole. Capacity development often involves enhancing the knowledge and skills of individuals whose work results greatly rely on the performance of the organizations in which they work. The effectiveness of organizations is influenced by the enabling environment. Conversely, the environment is affected by organizations and the relationships between them.

In this section you will find a description of the design stages and tools that have been devised in the REFLOW Capacity Building Toolkit and tested throughout the REFLOW project.

Each of them includes a brief description, along with insights from the implementation process of the tool and links to resources and materials so you can apply these tools in your transition to circular economy through capacity building.

The tools are organized according to four design stages:

1. Understand

Assess the circularity skills of your target learners: Define your learners - evaluate their circular literacy.

2. Define

Explore which learning objectives you intend to work on. Address how these learning objectives are linked to specific skills and competences. Design a set of learning outcomes.

3. Make

Discover and pick up the right capacity building method to meet your objectives.

4. Release

Implement your activities and monitor the impact of your capacity building programme..


Objectives of this Phase

  • Understand the profile of the person, group or system that needs to develop circularity skills.
  • Assess what is the current level of skills and knowledge of the target groups.

Relevant Tools

Clic on the pictures below to access the tool description.


Objectives of this Phase

  • Select the learning objectives of your programme
  • Clarify which skills and competences to develop
  • Scope the learning outcomes of your programme

Relevant Tools

Clic on the pictures below to access the tool description.


Objectives of this Phase

  • Select and implement the right capacity building method to reach your learning objectives

Relevant Tools

Clic on the pictures below to access the tool description.


Objectives of this Phase

  • Follow up on your capacity building activities through a systematic monitoring and evaluation process

Relevant Tool

Clic on the pictures below to access the tool description.

If you are interested in developing circular literacy for yourself or your stakeholders, you may use these additional tools and resources.