Climate action: Parliament adopts citizens' assembly recommendations
On 24 May 2022, the Regional Council of the French Est Ensemble federation of municipalities adopted many of the recommendations of a climate assembly. The assembly met from 18 September 2021 to 30 January 2022. 100 randomly selected citizens from the region met for five weekend sessions to propose concrete measures to combat climate change. In doing so, they were to consider aspects of social and environmental justice and biodiversity.
On 16 February 2022, they presented their recommendations to the mayors and vice-presidents of the federation of municipalities. The 200 assembly recommendations refer to seven mission statements for the federation:
- a green region with green and places to stay
- a solidarity-based region that promotes a new environmentally conscious way of housing
- a region that limits car use and expands active mobility
- a robust region that promotes healthy nutrition
- a region that produces no waste, acts objectively and fights against wastefulness
- an exemplary region with committed actors and citizens
- a region that promotes renewable energies
There were five topics on the agenda of the Citizens' Assembly: Housing, Food and Consumption, Transport, Work and Production, and Commitment to Change. Citizens will work freely in subgroups on these topics and can submit ideas for other topics if they wish. The participants worked in small groups on the different themes and presented their work regularly to the full Citizens' Assembly.
MPs adopted recommendations
On 24 May 2022, the MPs of the Municipal Association adopted most of the recommendations of the Citizens' Assembly. For example, the proportion of green space per inhabitant is to be increased to ten square metres in new buildings. The increase in the proportion of green and open space is also to be taken into account in the urban development plan. Roofs are to be greened and a 50-kilometre-long "plant promenade" is to be laid out through the nine towns of the municipal association.
In the area of housing, a "regional charter for inclusive and sustainable housing" is to be formulated that "adapts to the reality of neighbourhoods to define affordable housing prices" and "ensures the mix of housing types and sizes in each construction project". A new citizens' assembly is to address transport issues, and speed 30 zones are to become standard.
Promoting healthy eating
A solidarity-based network of stakeholders in the field of nutrition is to be established in the municipal association. Agricultural professions are to be promoted and a share of 15 projects is to be reserved in tenders that promote healthy, sustainable nutrition that is accessible to all.
It was also decided that recycling facilities will be established at all landfills. The community association wants to start trials to recover glass or recyclable packaging waste. Organic bins will be provided at markets for residents.
Establish a climate city
The community association will also establish a "climate city" where a resource centre or a network of facilities in the area could be located. A "common culture" is to be created by training the staff of the municipal association and the towns. Efforts will also be made to train "climate ambassadors" in schools, recreation centres, neighbourhood centres, etc.
Geothermal and solar energy are to be promoted within the region. New environmental regulations for new buildings and the development of renewable energies are to be integrated in a charter for "sustainable buildings". At least 20 percent of the four million euros allocated for major maintenance and repair measures are to be used for energy savings or renewable energy production.
Only 12 of the 220 proposals submitted by the Citizens' Assembly were not accepted by the Regional Council. It justified the rejections on the grounds that these proposals had already been implemented, that they did not fall within the remit of the inter-municipal community or that they contradicted Est Ensemble's environmental policy.
Five working sessions
The Citizens' Assembly met in five two-day working sessions in Romainville, from September 2021 to January 2022. On 26 March 2022, all elected representatives of the nine member towns of the Municipal Association met with the assembly members for the purpose of exchange. On 10 May 2022, an extraordinary territorial council met to take a position on the assembly recommendations and to evaluate the work of the citizens' assembly. Patrice Bessac, President of the Est Ensemble Municipal Association, had undertaken to present all the recommendations and measures proposed by the assembly to the territorial council for a vote.
"In the face of the democratic and environmental crises we are facing, we must act," Bessac explained the convening of the Citizens' Assembly. "Act quickly and act together. This is the double prerequisite for our societies to engage - while there is still time - in a fundamental climate update that leaves no one behind," Bessac continues. It is also about responsibility for the residents of a working-class neighbourhood that is doubly marked by social and environmental inequality. A neighbourhood that is the most densely populated in Île-de-France after Paris, where 30 per cent of the population live below the poverty line and where there are only six square metres of green space per inhabitant, compared to 12 square metres in the big cities.
A reflection of the population
The Citizens' Assembly participants had been selected in the summer of 2021 through sortition conducted by the polling institute IRS Quality. The 100 assembly members were a reflection of the diversity of the Est Ensemble region in terms of gender, age, education level and place of residence. The participants received an expense allowance for their participation.
Est Ensemble comprises a region of the nine towns Bagnolet, Bobigny, Bondy, Les Lilas, Le Pré Saint-Gervais, Montreuil, Noisy-le-Sec, Pantin and Romainville in the Seine-Saint-Denis department to the east of Paris. It was founded on 1 January 2016. The main purpose of the association of municipalities is to partially decentralise local government in the vast Métropole du Grand Paris. The member municipalities therefore belong to both associations of municipalities.