Grandstand | “Sustainable city: why is there still a long way to go? †

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Maxime Guillaud, CEO of Inskip, discusses in this forum a reflection and analysis of the democratic fabric of the city, which should be everyone’s business with a profound transformation that requires points of tools and methodology.

A year ago, Jean Castex announced a recovery plan for the sustainable city with almost 675 million euros at stake after the first recovery plan of 2011. Today it is no longer time for experiments, we must act. Is the sustainable city only a question of resources? Judging by most candidates’ programs in the recent presidential election, this appears to be the case. But how do you inspire the transformation of cities? Granted, funding issues must be taken into account, but generalizing the fabric of the sustainable city also and above all requires new skills, tools and methodologies that enable massive transformation on a national scale.

However, in this election campaign where change, especially the environment, is key, no candidate seems to really mention them, while cities are at the heart of the global warming problem.

The democratic fabric of the city, everyone’s business

A pragmatic urban policy aims to bring together all actors involved, directly or indirectly, in the long-term construction of sustainable cities in the direction of a choral transformation. The first step towards a democratic fabric of the city is pedagogy. All target groups must be continuously and consciously made. Citizens, but also their elected officials, are often far from grasping the necessity and urgency of the transformation of their city, and the changes this entails to ensure better accessibility. The challenge here is to associate, rather than impose.

Bringing the city’s stakeholders together will also promote collaborative approaches (between experts, to take a cross-cutting view of system problems) and participatory approaches to ensure that the user is involved from the outset in the design of spaces that affect them. to be destined . Urban planning offices, Cerema or CAUE can play the role of mediator, reaching a consensus on projects upstream and at the same time better defining them.
Today, only 35% of calls for innovative urban projects involve a process of consultation or citizen participation, while cities would benefit more from the use of citizens’ initiatives as open-air “beta tests”.

Proposal for a deep transformation…tools and methodology

Collective design and manufacturing, which requires rethinking manufacturing processes by innovating in the materials used, requires significant investment in research and development, as well as training. Not all private actors are proactive in this regard. The construction sector in France is one of the sectors that invests least in R&D in Europe. We need to do more and faster. City actors also need to develop their professions. With a view to changing professions, there is no transformation without training: civil servants, who command and govern; craftsmen in the city who have to manufacture differently; and students who need to learn to look differently, to think better about their profession of the future.

The National School of Public Works of the State and the National Institute of Territorial Studies still have a long way to go in addressing the themes of the sustainable city, not as separate subjects, but in a transversal way, across the entire curriculum. Ongoing training also extends to local authorities: the NGO C40, which brings together a hundred international cities, believes that every city needs to strengthen its data governance and information systems skills and resources in order to effectively steer its sustainability strategy.

For a redesign of the design and fabrication of the sustainable city, the transformation will not happen without the right tools and industrial production methods. Designing the city requires very elaborate software, which can process large amounts of information, but which today works like black boxes. Cities must have so-called “open source” software, designed and maintained by research labs and why not subsidized by the ecological transition agency. This would allow for the definition of open algorithms, which, according to the projects, cities could capitalize on.
All sustainable city design and management software should be accessible through an App Store-type virtual store to move towards a more transparent marketplace. The design of the latter, as a prototype object, would carry more weight if designed by BetaGouv in collaboration with the Ministry of Territorial Cohesion.

There is no lack of political will and resources when it comes to sustainable cities. Everything is within reach, all that remains is for the candidates for the elections and the future government to show pragmatism by drawing the concrete consequences of the experiments of the past 15 years. This is the precondition for making the sustainable city the rule and no longer the exception.

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