Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 16 November 2010
Tuesday, 16 November 2010 16:06

World cities: The case of Greater Paris

As a senator for Greater Paris, Yves Pozzo di Borgo was particularly welcomed to City Halls to Cancun Corridors a conference held in and co-organised by Taipei County (Xinbei City). How could these world cities share their experiences and wisdom for improved urban planning and a better environment?
 
 
 
Here is the speech in its entirety:
Dear Chairman, Dear Friends,

I am pleased and honored to speak today in a meeting that brings together elected officials and representatives of greater Taipei and of so many cities around the world - Asia, Europe, America ... All of us are aiming to make our metropolitan communities more human, friendlier, more apt at balancing natural and social equilibriums, and able to ensure the future well-being of their descendants. All of us are convinced that urbanisation is not a “fate” that will go inevitably with pollution and destruction of resources, but that it rather represents an opportunity that humankind gives itself so as to invent technological, political and human solutions to tackle the evils from which we suffer. The city is a place where imagination can be released, generosity expressed and solidarity forged.

Thank you, Mr. Governor, for giving us the opportunity today to exchange our experiences, and to return home richer in knowledge thanks to what we will have shared. Let me tell you today about the experience of Greater Paris. This is a work in progress since the law that frames this structure and project, passed last June, now serves as a framework for the setting up of urban, strategic, social and administrative operations, which will redraw the landscape of Paris and Ile de France, so as to design one of the largest cities in the world - and - such is our purpose - the most human of all.

The thinking around the world on the relationship between urbanisation and new forms of governance has several notable features: Firstly, everyone observes that we are marching towards a knowledge economy, a system that favours interactions between entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, developers and production engineers. The second feature that characterizes globalisation is that it integrates the power of urbanisation into the economic development of the regions and countries that these cities irrigate. In this urbanisation process the concept of world cities has taken root. The characteristic of such a process is that economic growth is generally much higher among these world cities than in the rest of their countries. There are currently five world cities: Tokyo, London, New York, Paris and Shanghai. Many cities in Asia, especially China and India, and Latin America will eventually reach this status.

Paris Ile-de-France is a world city, a sort of economic giant at the national and European levels, which represents 5.3 million jobs, or 25% of French jobs. 55% of French patents filed involve at least one partner residing in the Paris Basin, which has 70 000 researchers and 25% of French students. In terms of GDP, Ile-de-France is by far the leading European region, ranked well ahead of Lombardy and London. It represents 29% of French GDP, of which only 22% are actually consumed by the inhabitants of the Greater Paris, with the remainder distributed in other French regions. But if the Ile de France appears to be an economic giant at the national and European levels, it suffers from a lack of dynamism in terms of GDP and jobs. It is, somehow, a huge oil tanker slowly advancing! Indeed, in recent times, employment in the region is up by only 9.7%, while it increased in France by 14.2%. During this same period, growth in the Ile-de-France amounted to 2%, while that of Greater London was 8%. Ultimately then, the region of Ile de France could lose its status if it does not urgently address the reform of its governance structures. The figures on the Ile-de-France region are even more disturbing if one takes into account the fact that a group of economists reports an expected drop of 25% to 12.5% of EU GDP in the world GDP by 2050. Therefore it was necessary to build a project that would foster the dynamism of this region, useful to France and Europe: the draft of the Greater Paris. The law passed last June has the following objectives:
  • Conduct a comprehensive transportation system connecting the suburbs, airports and economic areas around Paris. This is the main objective of the law;
  • Make the Saclay plateau a global economic territory based around new clusters of innovation;
  • Create for the implementation of the two aforementioned projects ad hoc proceedings and structures: the Society of Greater Paris as owner of the transportation system, and the Public Company Saclay Paris for the economic governance of the area. The “public contracts for territorial development” provide in turn for a concerted development of the transportation system between the state and local governments.
Let us summarize the situation up until now as follows:
pozzo_speech_map
 
One of the specific problems we meet with is this regional community still suffers from stacking structures. It is not Paris per se which is presently developing, but rather the cities that surround it. The multiplicity of actors - state, region, departments, communes and union of communes - increases public taxation, impede the consistency and efficiency of public decision making, particularly regarding transportation and commuting, but also in terms of housing, urban planning, economic development and structural facilities. To compete globally with sufficient critical mass, most major European cities including Berlin, London or Rome, brought together local authorities included in their urban area to organise their development and management. Even in France, Lyon, since 1966, conducts urban management under a single administrative authority. For the last twenty years, Lyon has remained among the twenty European cities considered most attractive.
 

The lack of governance structure explains why despite its economic power, the Ile-de-France recorded growth figures lower than those experienced by the rest of France or other European cities. This lack of governance also explains that huge nuggets of jobs are not exploited. For example, the Saclay area is home to two universities and many prestigious schools and businesses. Its campus, in terms of scientists’ numbers and scientific fields concerned, bears comparison with the most prestigious foreign campuses. Thus the number of research publications, used as a criterion of effectiveness in the research sector, is equal to the one registered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University and Stanford. And it should catch up very quickly the level of Cambridge. However, at present, commuting in Saclay is ensured only by a few bus and one regional metro station, with no overall vision! That's why the State (in its role as strategic decision maker) had to come up with a bill on the Greater Paris. This text aims at fostering nine urban strategic poles, similar to that of Saclay, and at developing their transport infrastructure so as to support their dynamism. We hope that these nine clusters will eventually become modern cities, each of around 400 000 to 500 000 inhabitants. Thus, the law on Greater Paris tends to bring two main answers for reviving growth in the Ile-de-France and its global attractiveness in the world system. The first answer lies in a transport network serving the areas around Paris, according to a double-loop route that will serve the strategic areas.The second answer lies in the establishment of a ground-breaking cluster of innovation, based on a concentration of world-class universities and public or private researchers installed on the Saclay plateau, with State guarantees to support the development strategy. At a time of accrued competition among major world cities, it was essential to give Greater Paris the scale of, say, Greater London. At the same time, the unity and cooperation of local authorities that together constitute the Greater Paris could not simply be decreed from above. Like any very large region, Greater Paris is an ecosystem and a living ecosystem relies on self-regulation, ongoing consultation, flexibility, and continued creativity - not just planning and prioritisation.

To sustain that ecosystem - and here we enter the heart of our topic - traffic, communication and fluidity are key requirements. And here we have a lot of work to do. 900 000 residents of suburbs come daily to work in Paris and 300,000 Parisians go in the opposite direction. 95% of Parisians live within 600m of a metro or RER, while in inner suburbs it is the case of less than 50% of the population. The average time traveled between home and the workplace is 30 minutes for the inhabitants of Paris and 45 minutes for residents of inner suburbs. Traffic jams remain a sad reality in the Paris region, as experienced by tourists who go from the Roissy Airport to the heart of the capital... Fluid transportation is a key factor for the quality of living in urban areas. When meeting with environmental requirements, finding alternatives for clean transport and increasing the availability of transit is a priority for the future of metropolitan Paris. Today, the travel conditions in the Paris area remain insufficient and uneven, failing to respond to changing needs. The development of transversal transportation across suburbs is a priority. Network saturation during peak hours, lack of stops in small crown, the frequency of failures and ensuing longer transit time seriously harms the quality of metropolitan life. These weaknesses also weigh on the economic life of the city, because they affect the delivery time of goods and movement of employees.

All stakeholders (government, communities, unions and private carriers) are now mobilizing around large projects such as construction of a transport ring, designed to strengthen and streamline the public transport network in a comprehensive planning process. The realization of these projects will allow for the reduction of car use and road congestion, in a context where environmental issues (noise, air pollution, dwindling resources), economic issues, issues of access employment and social cohesion have a cumulative impact. The Law of June 3, 2010 for Greater Paris has defined the Transport Network of Greater Paris as "consisting of infrastructure affecting urban public transport of passengers, with the use of (a) a circular high-capacity automated metro which, by participating in opening up some areas, will connect the central Paris area and the main urban, scientific, technological, economic, sporting and cultural centers of the Ile-de-France region , (b) high-speed rail network and (c) international airports. "The restructuring of transport goes hand in hand with the one of economic and social areas. But it was important for the reasons stated above, to limit the power of the state on the development of these areas. Development contracts concluded with territorial local authorities are therefore an interesting new legal tool.

Reflecting on the planning and development pursued from the ground realities we must avoid copying the models of global cities that, while developing fast economically, are noisy, polluted and violent. The quality of life in a metropolis on a human scale is a key factor of attractiveness.

Since the implementation of the transmission (an automatic metro line running over a 130 Km), and the establishment of a concentration of universities, research centers and industries on the Saclay plateau requires close cooperation with local communities, and important public works, the law allows for special contracts and new public institutions to implement this project, which is considered to be of national interest.

Even if the Grand Paris is a project implemented in the territory of the Region Ile de France, the economic benefits, financing, and implementation work has a national dimension. Therefore, the government, not the region, created a special ministry to propose a bill, and manage the project, which should take place until at least 2020.

On this basis we will be able to develop even further Greater Paris, maybe even to Le Havre, its maritime horizon, 200 kms further away. Mr. President, exchanges such as those we have these days provide us with a sharper awareness of the ultimate meaning of the action of elected officials and policy makers. Let us therefore take full advantage of such opportunity, and foster a spirit of inventiveness and a growing solidarity that will be rooted in mutual understanding and friendship.

Thank you.

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(Photo by Cathy Chuang)


 

Benoit Vermander discusses the complexity of the the various networks and actors when it comes to global climate change negotiations and environmental issues. How can these difficulties be turned into opportunities? How can cities take the leading role on climate change?

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