une œuvre qui se construit pas à pas et pièce à pièce

Towards a change of the thinking system

Without conceptual changes at national and European level, territorial transition will quickly meet its limits

There are many reasons for the inability to effect systemic change - that is, change that affects all aspects of our lives. Two are particularly obvious: we cannot hope to solve a problem in the very terms in which it arose; and our narrow conception of the responsibility of each actor is that no one really feels responsible for the disasters that are brewing.

Extract of the Charter

Third objective of the Factory :

Propose together changes in the economic model, governance, law and inter-company relations, financing, to increase the feasibility, scale and impact of territorial transitions}.

Extract of the Charter

Without conceptual and institutional transformations at the national, European and global levels, the conduct of the transition at the territorial level will quickly encounter limits. What kind of transformations are we talking about? The Factory is not itself, in 2020, the bearer of a unified doctrine shared by all the allies. On the other hand, many allies are the bearers of a vision and concrete proposals that are the subject of written documents. The Factory has a database of these documents [give here the address of this database]. They will be the subject of collective discussions over the coming months. As consensus emerges among the allies, and without the Factory having an ideological and intellectual corpus to which each ally is obliged to adhere, the most consensual proposals can be the subject of a common portrayal.

2020: the time for boldness has come

The vocation of the Factory is European and global. Its origin, however, is in France. Its first two horizons for "moving the lines" are France and Europe. The context, in the summer of 2020, is doubly favourable:

  • In France, the new Prime Minister, Jean Castex, has in his general policy statement highly affirmed the role of the territories and the need to embark on a new stage of decentralisation in order to invent new relationships between States and local authorities, while the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron invites us to reinvent ourselves;
  • At the European Union level, the massive recovery plan adopted by the Heads of State in July 2020 must be devoted 30% to investments to protect the climate. The conference on the future of Europe must include a strong focus on citizens’ debates. The new green pact is under discussion. The concepts of multi-level governance and active subsidiarity are recognised as the basis for future European policies.

For territories and territorial transition, the time has come for boldness

The proposals reviewed here are essentially from the founding core group in the summer of 2020; they will be enriched by the contributions of other allies.

Another economy

Social and solidarity economy

Cooperation between public and private stakeholders at the scale of a territory presupposes that each one recognises that its raison d’être includes the common good, the prosperity of human communities in the territories and the invention of a new economic model including respect for the planet’s limits and the safeguarding of the biosphere.

The development of the social and solidarity economy anchored in the territories is therefore a major development. Enterprises in this economic sector are also the most involved in the search for new forms of cooperation, either between enterprises of the social and solidarity economy itself, or more broadly between stakeholders of various kinds, as illustrated by the territorial poles of economic cooperation (PTCE).

Circular economy and functionality

Until the end of the 20th century, economic development, which was mainly driven by technical innovations and the globalisation of markets, gave rise to globalised production chains mobilising a multitude of subsidiaries, subcontractors and suppliers around dominant companies to which they are linked by relationships of allegiance. These chains of production remain essentially "linear": they draw raw materials and energy from an infinite biosphere and reject waste, from the by-products of production to end-of-life objects, which are being replaced more and more rapidly in a logic of programmed obsolescence. This model is obviously not sustainable. It has elicited a great many reactions, with the territories in the front line. Let’s quote :

  • the industrial and territorial ecology, which aims to turn the by-products of a productive activity into the raw material for other activities or services rendered to the community;
  • the circular economy, which aims to move from linear production chains to loop systems where the genesis and use of a product is taken into account to ensure that all the resources needed are recycled or reused;
  • the territorialized management of waste which aims firstly to reduce its mass (through industrial and territorial ecology, through the circular economy, through the development of bulk and deposit, etc.) and secondly to design its recycling ;
  • the economy of functionality, which aims to offer a service rendered rather than the purchase of material goods enabling this service to be rendered.

The territories are a privileged level for organising these transformations, but policies at national and European level must be implemented to generalise them.

See the documents :

From economy to oeconomy

Until 1750, we did not speak of economy but of oeconomy, thus recalling its profound meaning: the rules of management (nomoï) of the common house (oïkos), in other words the art of ensuring the well-being of the household, and by extension of the community, the nation, and all of humanity, while respecting the limits of the environment.

This oeconomy was lost sight of during the industrial revolution, when Western societies thought they could mobilise the planet’s supposedly unlimited resources at their service. Today, we must undertake the great "return to oeconomy" because the challenges facing humanity, faced with the finiteness and fragility of the biosphere, are similar to those it faced before the industrial revolution.

Ensuring the well-being of all while respecting the limits of the biosphere leads us to revisit the foundations of our economic model. Common house management standards: oeconomy is a branch of governance to which the general principles of governance apply.

For example: instead of an undifferentiated globalised market, it is necessary to think about the articulation between the levels of production, exchange and consumption from the local to the global level; to create the conditions of legitimacy for the different types of stakeholders; to set up governance regimes adapted to the nature of the different goods and services; to impose standards of interoperability between components of industrial products in order to combine the global production of components with assembly and repair being carried out at the local level.

See the document Petit traité d'oeconomie

Another currency

Local currencies, tools for regional development

The territories today know very little about their metabolism. Unlike the cells of living organisms, they have no membrane to filter and measure their exchanges with the outside world, or to densify local exchanges of work and services, or even to direct local savings towards the investments necessary for the development and transition of territories.

The development of local currencies, made easy by the dematerialisation of money, including the generalisation of direct payments by mobile phone, creates the technical conditions for the development of local currencies to support a new articulation between the levels of management of the economy and exchange from the local to the global.

The role of these currencies still needs to be recognised at both national and European level, which presupposes a profound doctrinal change in relation to the dominant ideas on the unity of the euro.

Fossil energy, a currency in its own right

Re-launching growth, ecological growth, degrowth: the debate is raging but in a very confused way for a simple and good reason: growth and degrowth of what? If we want to achieve the well-being of all and social cohesion while respecting the limits of the planet, we must promote what strengthens the relations between human beings and societies, relations in which work will continue to play a structuring role for a long time to come, and on the other hand massively reduce all the taxes on the planet, starting with fossil fuels.

To want to pay with the same currency for what needs to be developed, work, and what needs to be reduced, the taxes on the planet, is to want to drive a car that has only one pedal for the accelerator and the brake: the best way to go to the wall. This is what is happening to our societies.

In order to move towards sustainable territories, two different units of account and means of payment must be used for what needs to be developed and what needs to be saved. A territory is not in a position to do this alone. At national and European level, we need to transform the thinking and institutions of the currency.

See the document L’énergie fossile (extrait du Petit traité d'oeconomie)

Another governance

The renewal of democracy: deliberative democracy at the French and European territorial levels

Representative democracy is in crisis. It was born at a time when the people, the majority of whom were illiterate, needed literate spokespersons to represent them and when information circulated slowly, mainly in written form. It was the only practicable form of democracy in large human groups. This context has changed completely, as democracy must do: new forms of involving citizens in deliberation and decision-making must be invented. One of the most promising advances is deliberative democracy, in which panels of citizens drawn at random construct the terms of the debate and propose answers to be submitted to all citizens.

The territorial level is logically the basic level. It allows for dialogue between citizens who live the same reality on all the major issues of our societies and not only on local issues. From this first level, a dialogue can be established between territories at both national and European level. Such a deliberative multi-level democracy requires, in order to be effective, recognition at national and European levels.

See the document Sauvons la démocratie ! (voir Définir les principes d'une stratégie concertée de changement (P 32-41))

Another definition of territories

In the still recent past, a territory was defined as a portion of geographical space managed by local authorities. It was even often confused with these territorial authorities, to the point of reducing territorial governance to local public management.

Moreover, and due to the immersion of territories in a globalised economy where exchanges are largely monetary, territories were unable to know their metabolism, even in elementary forms such as the flow of energy and matter in and out. It is therefore not possible to conduct the transition of territories without defining, characterising and managing them differently, without having the other levels of governance - regional, national and European - recognise that they are indeed one of the pivotal players in the transition.

The Factory is based on a new definition of the territory, a human community that over the centuries has developed a place to live, and a system of relationships and actors, a particular density of relationships that unite and many of which extend from the local to the global.

See the document Le rôle centrale des territoires

Multi-level governance and the principle of active subsidiarity

These two notions are today at the heart of European policy-making but remain largely ignored in France by the State administration and by the majority of elected politicians.

Multi-level governance is based on the observation that in today’s societies, no serious problem can be fully addressed at one level. Therefore, instead of exhausting oneself in ’clarifying competences’ by attributing exclusive competences to each level, it is better to recognise the obvious and define the rules of cooperation between the different levels of governance for the production of the common good.

The principle of active subsidiarity complements this. If we want to impose uniform standards on all territories, leaving no room for individual specificity or creativity, we lose out on all fronts in terms of autonomy and efficiency. However, in interdependent societies, it is not possible to let each territory act as it pleases regardless of the consequences for the others.

The principle of active subsidiarity derives from learning communities. It aims, in all areas, to replace the obligation of uniform means with an obligation of result: to implement the guiding principles drawn from collective experience, allowing each territory to translate them to the best of its ability.

See the document La gouvernance à multi-niveaux

Local factories of transition

It is a summary of the above: to bring each territory, by giving it the means for its autonomy of thought and financing, to design the entire transition process itself, based on guiding principles of which the Transition Factory hopes to become the privileged bearer.

See the documents :

An alternative governance regime for fossil fuels

Individual negotiable quotas

For nearly thirty years, and since the first Earth Summit in 1992, which popularised the concept of sustainable development and called for a policy to limit the growth of average global temperatures due to greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from fossil fuel combustion, the policies implemented by the States, Europe and territories have all been "best-efforts" policies: action on the thermal insulation of buildings, energy efficiency of production processes, reduction of car mobility, etc.

These policies have failed. None of them were up to the challenge. None has been able to really change our production models and lifestyles. Fossil energy consumption has remained correlated with the evolution of gross domestic product at both national and global levels. Only economic crises, such as the financial crisis in 2008 or the Covid 19 pandemic in 2020, have been able to produce visible, but very limited, effects in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

We must now radically change our approach, move from obligations of means to obligations of results and, finally, consider that the international commitments made by Europe and France to assume their responsibility for keeping global warming "well below 2°", to use the expression of the Paris agreements, are to be taken seriously and require us to reduce our carbon footprint by 6 to 7% per year, this footprint including not only our visible consumption of fossil energy but also the grey energy incorporated in the goods and services we import. Grey energy, which today accounts for more than 40% of our carbon footprint.

If these commitments are taken seriously it means that our total carbon emissions, our carbon footprint, is capped and this cap is being reduced by 6-7% per year. So the governance regime for fossil energy is to manage this rationing and its annual reduction in a socially just manner.

Three governance regimes are a priori possible to achieve this: management by price by setting an increasingly high carbon tax so that solvent demand is reduced to the total of what is admissible annually; auctioning of these limited quantities; and equal quotas allocated to each individual, quotas that he or she is free to sell, thus making the efforts he or she makes to reduce his or her carbon footprint even beyond these quotas efficient and profitable.

This fight is decisive for the territories, but should preferably be carried out at the European level and failing that at the national level.

The territorial translation of quotas: the carbon budget of territories and local carbon quota trading markets

The above has a major implication for the territories. Their carbon footprint can be defined as the footprint of the entire community residing in the territory. However, many of the efforts made by individuals to reduce their carbon footprint depend on the transition strategy of the territories themselves: housing policy, land use planning, management of public services, local agri-food systems, collective catering, mobility, etc. But it is also at this territorial scale, and thanks to the fact that a system of negotiable quotas ensures the traceability of each person’s carbon footprint, that the real impact of all these policies can be measured: territorial policies create objective conditions for reducing this carbon footprint, but it is the motivation of all actors to reduce their own footprint that gives these policies their full value.

Thus, each territory, understood as a human community, can think of itself as a collective actor committed to the respect of a carbon footprint that decreases year by year.

The territory can thus be the first level of organisation of the carbon quota exchange market, allowing an exchange market to be established between territories, with the most economical being able to enhance their efforts by selling a share of the quotas to less sustainable territories. It will also be an extraordinary lever to rethink the whole of territorial metabolisms.

Another law

The metamorphosis of liability and the development of European and global liability law

What is a community? A group of human beings who feel a mutual responsibility for the impact of their actions on other members of the community and on common goods. This explains why the idea of mutual responsibility is found in all societies and cultures (which is not the case with human rights, which is a concept that originated in the West).

In a context where humanity is jeopardising its own survival by failing to take into account the immediate or long-term consequences of the actions of each of its members, responsibility is the backbone of 21st century ethics.

Yet our ethical and legal definition of responsibility is today far removed from this conception of responsibility. Over the centuries, we have created a vision and a doctrine of the "limited responsibility" of each actor. However, the sum of these limited responsibilities leads, as we can easily verify every day, to companies that are themselves unlimitedly irresponsible.

A real metamorphosis of liability is urgent today in order to bring about, in particular, the emergence of a global law of liability commensurate with the challenges of preserving the common good.

The territories, taken in isolation, are not on the scale of this colossal task. On the other hand, they are formidable laboratories of what a metamorphosis of responsibility can be on the scale of a territorial community, to make it a basis for the renewal of the social contract between actors. For it is indeed a social contract that is at stake when one wants to build cooperation between actors around the common objective of transition. Moreover, the European and global national networks of territories can become a lever to bring to the international level the demand for a Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities, complementary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the foundation of a new world law.

See the document Métamorphoses de la responsabilité et contrat social

Other relations between societies

Dialogue between territories

Since the 17th century and the advent of the so-called "Wesphalian state", relations between societies have been confused with relations between states. As the saying goes, "States have no friends, they only have interests". Within the same state, the interests between social groups are contradictory, and the ’national interest’, which is opposed to the others, is only real because there is a national state to build it, distancing us from the urgent need for humanity to see itself as a community of destiny.

The relations between societies as built by diplomacy are similar to the relations that could once exist between neighbouring villages, peacefully exchanging or violently confronting each other from afar, only to return each one to his or her own home. Today, however, relations between societies are closer to those that exist between flatmates in the same flat, who are called upon to be in constant contact and to share the same space.

Nothing is more significant of this gap between needs and realities than the ritual annual conferences of the parties, COPs, on climate. The climate in which we live is our daily reality ... but the conferences are led by foreign ministers.

The territories, on the contrary, reflect the daily living conditions of their people. Of course they may occasionally compete with each other, but they are rather united by the same realities and the same challenges. This was, moreover, the intuition behind the creation of twinned towns. They have been referred to as "democracy of the people". And this is also the key to the success of decentralised cooperation, which is a variant of learning communities: we can learn from each other and these learnings rediscover all their human values of understanding, discovery and sympathy.

At a time when all territories are facing the common challenges of transition, dialogue between territories, understood as dialogue between communities each rooted in its own territory and not as dialogue between leaders of territorial authorities, must become an essential means of bringing about communities of destiny. Give them a tower to build, says an African proverb, and you will make brothers of them. This tower is the conduct of the transition and the management of the global commons, starting with the climate.

This dynamic will only take off fully if it is recognised by state and international institutions as a major dimension of the dialogue between societies. It is the antidote to nationalist retreats.

For a process that establishes citizens of the European Union

In 2020 the Conference for the Future of Europe is to be launched. The major European institutions seem to agree that this time, contrary to the European Convention launched by the Laeken European Council in December 2001, the citizens should really be given a voice. How can this be done? In particular by using deliberative democracy and randomly selected panels of citizens.

As the European Convention on Climate Change showed in 2020 in France, if citizens’ panels are organised directly at European or national level, we will miss the point. A two-tiered approach must therefore be devised: firstly, with citizens’ panels organised at the level of European regions, on a scale where the major issues of humanity find their concrete expression, and secondly, at a second level by having these citizens’ panels engage in dialogue with each other.

International networks of territories in transition and the construction of a global community of destiny

What unites the peoples of the earth are neither a past nor a religion nor a culture nor common values. What unites them is that they live on the same planet, that they share the finite resources of the biosphere, that they have to take joint responsibility for preserving its integrity. And what unites them is precisely to have to lead a systemic transition in which territories will have a major role to play. This will be, in the years and decades to come, the deep vocation of the international networks of territories of which the Factory is only a prefiguration. It must assume the ambition of this. It must have the need for it recognised by national and international bodies.

Another accountancy

A different kind of company accounting

Managing the transition of the territories presupposes the involvement of all stakeholders, particularly economic stakeholders, whatever their status: public or private companies, social and solidarity economy companies.

All these economic players benefit from the natural and human capital of the territories where they are established and contribute to enriching or impoverishing them. This is one of the profound reasons why a transition strategy is necessarily a multi-actor strategy. However, the management tools used by companies must be consistent with this reality. This is not currently the case.

Corporate accounting reform has been on the table for several years. It stems from a more general reflection on the nature of the company itself, which can no longer be merely a simple association of shareholders solely concerned with making the capital invested bear fruit, as expressed by its current legal status. In France, in 2019, the PACTE law was a first step in this direction. It aims precisely to rethink the place of companies in society.

In order for companies to become partners in territorial transition strategies as a matter of course and not as an exception, as is still the case now, the accounting itself of companies must now be reformed by making the balance sheet "natural capital" and "human capital" appear in the same way as financial capital.

A different way of accounting for territories

In the same way that today’s territories have little knowledge of their metabolism, they do not have a consolidated balance sheet of their natural, human or even financial capital. Only the public accounts of the local authorities making up the territory exist, without even a consolidation of these accounts on the scale of the territory as a whole.

If we accept that a territory is a human community and a collective actor, they must be provided with the corresponding tools for observing reality and accounting.

Other financing modalities

Direct access of the territories to national, European and international funding for the transition

The 750 billion recovery plan adopted in July 2020 by the European Union to enable society to restart after the Covid 19 pandemic must be at least 30% dedicated to investments in ecological transition.

This funding should be able to go directly to the territories and to the different actors within the territories on condition that it is part, in application of the principle of active subsidiarity, of a global transition strategy, in accordance with the guiding principles of which the Fabrique can be the embodiment. These guiding principles for the time being are symbolised by those resulting from the process of capitalisation of experiences of the four cities, Loos-en-Gohelle, Grande Synthe, Le Mené and Malaunay, completed by guiding principles elaborated by a certain number of networks allied to the Fabrique, in particular Energy Cities and Territoires à Energie Positive (TEPOS).

A one-stop-shop mechanism, if possible set up by the regions, should enable the rapid mobilisation of European Recovery Plan grants and loans once a local Transition Factory has been set up.

Mobilisation of local savings

This is the other side of an economic system which is no longer based on a vast, globalised and unified market but on the articulation between different levels of production and exchange, with the territory constituting the first level.

In the current financial system, the relationship of trust which is the basis of the relationship between a lender and a borrower has been progressively replaced by instantaneous transactions: it is no longer trust that counts, it is the possibility of instant withdrawal. This logic has been pushed to its height with subprimes, "structured products" according to the banks’ pretty and mystifying expression, i.e. baskets of debt whose nature the lender ends up not even knowing. The "financialisation of the world" is no longer in these conditions the normal act of trust in the future and in one’s partners, which is the basis of credit, but has become the symbol of an abstract search for profit for profit’s sake.

The territorial scale can be the basis for the reconstruction of the social contract of the financial system. The growing success of participative financing or solidarity savings, the multiplication of "responsible" investment funds is the sign of this collective aspiration.

It is necessary to ensure that, within the framework of global transition strategies, territories are able to set up new mobilisation and savings circuits.