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SOCIETY WORLD

The Biennial of Cities in transition in Grenoble: a response to social and environmental issues?

Benjamin CALMELS

While transgenerational demonstrations to denounce the inaction of the French state climates throughout France, Grenoble is a laboratory of innovative solutions, especially since the election of its mayor Éric Piolle in 2014.

The municipality organized from 9 to 16 March 2019 the second edition of the Biennial of Cities in Transition, a week rich in events that showcases international exchange and cooperation around the themes of sustainable development. Meeting with the town council after a conference-debate on welcoming policies in Grenoble and its partner cities.

Doussou Keita, former asylum seeker from Guinea, sponsor of the Biennial, just told the public of the Palais des Sports, not without emotion, the warm welcome that the Grenoblois have for him on his arrival in France and the obstacle course that followed. The recognition she gives to her adopted city is a humanistic plea for the acceptance of otherness. Eric Piolle applauds.

Grenoble claims “a time in advance”, a formula chosen to embody this week of excitement in the heart of the Alps. Mr. Piolle is proud of his people: “Yes, ahead of us, actors in everyday life as well as in festive and popular times” as this Saturday, March 9th, when “took place a giant escape game that brought together nearly 15,000 people “.

It is true that the Grenoblois are visibly taking over daily the challenge of climate change, particularly in the field of mobility, “The practice of cycling has exploded, upstream of our ability to get out of infrastructure,” he says. it, at a time when the network Chronovélo (intercommunal fast lanes, NDLR) is being deployed. Encourage behavior change is the stated goal. On the thorny subject of air quality, the mayor, for whom this issue is a daily struggle, readily acknowledges that it was the people of Grenoble who have “given the energy and the legitimacy to negotiate what has been the first and, to date, the only territorial agreement around pollution peaks “. From 2030, the company GEG (Grenoble Electricity) will produce the equivalent of the consumption of Grenoblois in electricity 100% green, 0% nuclear or fossil. It tempers: “We are one of the 18 territories targeted by the European Commission for non-compliance with pollution standards. The goal has been set to be at the threshold of WHO by 2030 “. “We are in the process of launching the broadest low emission zone in France: 11 municipalities are already partners! “. According to a report, 114 deaths per year could be avoided.

With the collaborative projects (sites open to the public, COP, Ed) and the National Encounters for Citizen Participation, the focus is on the will displayed by the town hall to bring down the walls and allow the people to act concretely . This is also the transition. According to the mayor, “this can not be anything but participative”. “Do not wait for a movement from above.” He continues, “I believe that transition is about social and environmental justice.” Pricing solidarity and free targeted are tools for the most modest.

Grenoble was the first community in France to pay peer workers, people with social exclusion, in different parts of the city. The mayor is very proud of it: “We train them in the issues of access to care and prevention and they are responsible for raising awareness in their neighborhood”.

Grenoble is also a city of exchange, with many partner cities present at the Biennial. Cooperation agreements are part of the DNA of the city. Mr. Piolle claims it loud and clear: “We are going to seek and we share this inspiration with all”. Today, a project of magnitude is on everyone’s lips: to become the European Green Capital in 2022. The city will know in 2020 if it is selected for the last stage of the contest.

The evaluation criteria concern, for example, the local contribution to the fight against global climate change, transport or the management of the environment by local authorities. So many topics that the mayor has already taken. “We have already started.

All the actors of the civil society, the university system and the economic world are part of this candidature “.

On February 20, Eric Piolle participated in the Justice4Climate summit, organized by the Paris City Hall, in partnership with other major cities of the world was announced the creation of a platform that will allow those who wish to engage climate justice actions. The city council of Grenoble recalls that he was “one of the first signatories of the petition” The Case of the Century “. He had already questioned Total last year by asking him to respect the Paris Agreement. “The company accounts for two-thirds of carbon emissions in France,” he recalls. Small victory, the Guyanese exploration campaign has just been abandoned, officially for lack of convincing results.

The transition can not succeed if the company is at the service of the city and the common good. It must be able to measure its negative externalities “. The Mayor regrets the postponement to 2021 of the ban on certain plastic utensils. “The climate is not part of the government radar. Social and environmental issues are matters of little interest to him, “he says. He concludes, “How do the 1% protect themselves from the world? This is his real project.