Greening municipal councils

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Greening municipal councils




First council of Paris after the election of Anne Hidalgo, on July 3.


© Albert FACELLY
First council of Paris after the election of Anne Hidalgo, on July 3.

Even a high number of assistants is not enough to guarantee environmental objectives; the entire organization must be rethought: the new deputy portfolios must all be cross-functional.

Tribune. The victory of environmentalists in municipal elections is not counted only in votes, especially since the abstainers are numerous, but by the replacement of the old organization chart by a new one which adopts ecology as a method (of hodos in Greek which means “way”). If ecology is a way, it must privilege, and this whatever the treated subject, the process, the transversality and the interrelation. Also, the prerogatives of the assistants are no longer thematic (school, housing, economy, cleanliness, etc.) but transversal (temporalities, solidarity, participation, etc.). Decisions are no longer a matter of verticality, often pyramidal of power, but of horizontal collegiality, to which citizens ‘associations are invited and all the inhabitants’ words are heard.

Four to five elected officials, all terrain, invent a new distribution of tasks and consequently another way of thinking and doing. Each animates a group of elected officials, like so many sensors of the complaints, proposals, dreams of city dwellers, small or large, from here or elsewhere. There would no longer be “Madam Displacement” and “Mr. Security”, but the members of a single team focusing precisely on the process, the transversality and the interrelation to satisfy the requests of the inhabitants, with their assistance, while making each and everyone contribute to collective reflection. In such a scheme, each elected representative spends one day per week reading the same book and half a day discussing it with his colleagues. How does this book help me understand what to do? How does it reorient my design and enrich my proposals? Why read a book on “the ethics of the land”, me who takes care of schooling? Precisely by encouraging me to integrate the discovery of the “environment” into the school field, nature classes, trips to the countryside where we botanize, draw, collect, gather and also cook! Let us hope that the cities now administered by an environmentalist mayor show the example. The same goes for any government, as Carlo Petrini (initiator of the Slow Food movement) suggested in 2018 with a “food ministry” which becomes that of agriculture, health, well-being, towns and countryside …

Take Paris as an example. Anne Hidalgo surrounds herself with 37 assistants. I will leave aside their remuneration and that of their employees. The titles are indicative of the absence of a unitary vision. About ten of them (town planning, construction, construction sites, city policy, street code, cleanliness, accessibility, housing, ecological and climate transition, greening of public spaces, etc.) could work together under the same name: ” urbanity ”. Likewise health, obesity, “sustainable food” (funny name?) Should come under the same pole, that of “good living”. Among the novelties, an elected official at the Seine (good idea, already issued by the association The Seine is not for sale, which attributed to her the bridges, the banks, the navigation, the relations with the upstream and downstream of the river, its representations, its specific trades, its fauna and flora, its heritage, etc.), one elected for ” Paris 2030 ”(2050-2100 would be preferable, taking into account climate change, migratory movements, planned obsolescence of equipment… And which would also take care of heritage, because the future is a present to come inevitably turning into the past …), An elected official in “tourism and nightlife” who should also be interested in parties, cultural events, museums, the quality of reception of others, migrants or “tourists in exile”, etc. Here too, regroupings are possible within a “hospitality” delegation, to which culture would be attached. Let us leave the laughable “quarter-hour city” to entrust this elected official with the urban daily life, with the temporal policy of the territories which harmonizes social times (schedules of administrations, transporters, employers, etc.) and individual times (chronobiology of humans as well as the living world), knowing that it is at stake for public health such as energy savings, air quality, school rhythms, the management of places based on chronotopy, gender and five senses, etc. The social aspect is curiously absent from the Parisian casting (there should be created a “mutual aid” pole), just like children, which cannot be reduced to a question of law (see the manifesto “The city of children and young people: a city for everyone! ”). When you green your mind, it is no longer possible to cut reality into slices, because everything is linked, which is confirmed by the recent Covid-19 pandemic.

A city council that places ecology at the heart of its reflections and actions, is hampered by the old thematic scheme. It must therefore daringly experiment with the path of an alternative which exalts the process, transversality and interrelation, not only to make our complex world intelligible, to reorganize all the services, but also and above all to offer the possible conditions of their existence. deployment.

Thierry Paquot is the author of some sixty books on cities, utopias, ecology, including Earthly abode. Wandering survey on living (ed. Urban Land, 2020).

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