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

The Alliance Charter of « La Fabrique des Transitions »

Pierre Calame, Julian Perdrigeat, Jean-François Caron

At the end of 2019, a collective of local authorities, thematic networks, companies, resource centres and actors from research and civil society committed themselves to the systemic transition of territories within the « Fabrique es Transitions ». The Fabrique is structured by the four objectives set out in its founding Charter.

To download: transition_factory_alliance_charter.pdf (65)

The systems of thought, development models, forms of governance, legal, economic and financial conventions conditioned by market-dominated globalisation, the lifestyles that structure our societies are inherited from the last centuries. They have led to a threefold crisis in relations between humanity and the biosphere - climate change is the most spectacular expression of this -, between individuals - with the disintegration of social cohesion - and between societies - with the risks of withdrawal and the inability to manage interdependence together. This threatens the very survival of humanity.

In spite of these observations made over more than thirty years and countless speeches, international conferences and agreements, the necessary transition towards sustainable and mutually supportive societies has not begun, giving rise to a justified sense of rage and powerlessness in the face of ever more precise threats of collapse.

There are many reasons for the inability to bring about real 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 means that no one really feels responsible for the disasters that are brewing.

Faced with the need to radically change our systems of thought, our economic models, our institutions, our development trajectories, territories, in the sense of human communities woven from relationships, appear to be a decisive player in the transition to be conducted. But they are still far from playing this driving role. The obstacles are numerous. Some are internal and reflect multiple compartmentalisation. Others are external and stem from the fact that over the last two centuries, the political and economic role of the territories has constantly diminished to the benefit of the States and large companies.

There is a growing consensus on the necessity and urgency of a systemic transition and the role that territories can play in its management. Numerous territorial initiatives have emerged, often linked together in networks. Some of them have undertaken very early on to initiate, despite all the obstacles, a real strategy of change conducted over several decades.

These experiences are both a source of inspiration for others and, through the similarities that can be observed between them, the basis for an engineering of change in societies. These initiatives show that such a transition is possible and that it is a source of joy and hope for all those who commit themselves to it and thus become subjects of their own destiny again. Although they cannot transform the entire system on their own - other transformations are indispensable: within and at other levels, those of the world, Europe and nations - they can be a source of strong proposals if they are carried forward.

We, various actors involved in the transition of territories, believe that the time has come to join forces, our experiences, our energy to contribute to a change of scale, accompanying the very many territories willing to move forward in the transition and constituting a force, in alliance with similar movements, capable of provoking and consolidating the necessary changes.

Our commitment to each other is expressed through this Charter.

1. Objectives of the Factory

The title «  Fabrique des transitions  » underlines that it is a work that is built piece by piece and step by step, that it implies a profound change in the way of seeing and conceiving territories and their governance, that it calls into question the institutional, legal and economic framework in which the transition is taking place, and that it is part of a long-term strategy.

The Transition Factory is a space open at all times to the most diverse actors as soon as they show through the Charter their commitment to share the objectives, values and methods of the Factory and accept to assume its history, which is the condition for a long-term work.

The Factory pursues four objectives :

  1. to form together a learning community so as to constantly enrich the common heritage by pooling the contributions of all those involved, putting them in touch with each other and deepening them, in particular through the conduct of participatory research, whenever it proves necessary to better analyse the obstacles, refine the methods and support proposals ;

  2. to put this heritage at the service of territories in transition, by supporting them by mobilising the capacities and resources of the members, with the Factory providing the supported territories with a guarantee of the quality of the approaches undertaken ;

  3. to propose together changes in the economic model, governance, law and relations between societies, financing, in order to increase the feasibility, scale and impact of territorial transitions ;

  4. encourage the deployment by all means, particularly training, of an engineering approach to the management of systemic change at the territorial level, constantly nourished by new experiences.

2. Common values

Allies recognise themselves in common ethical principles that they commit to put into practice :

  • an ethic of rigour, each striving to report honestly on the scope and limits of their own action and to present their experience in a form useful to others ;

  • an ethic of listening and dialogue, with everyone’s contribution being welcomed with respect  and kindness;

  • an ethic of cooperation, at the heart of the territories’ transitional relations;

  • an ethic of responsibility, with each person making a contribution to the extent of their knowledge and power, respecting the modalities of collective making, which are the conditions of its impact.

The strength of the Fabrique results from the activity of its members, their skills, their personal involvement, the wealth of their experience and the networks they have been able to build or share over the years, the methods and tools they have developed, the credibility they have acquired, their willingness to constantly seek cooperation and synergy with others. The power of each within the Factory stems from the added value they bring to the common work.

The Factory benefits from the contributions of the actors and networks that make it up; it does not replace them and does not claim to speak on their behalf. Each person’s contribution helps to enhance his or her identity and not to dilute it.

3. Working methods and disciplines

The construction of the long-term work embodied by the Fabrique, the effective capacity to build and constantly enrich the common heritage of experiences, methods and operational concepts that enable each one to strengthen its efficiency, the credibility of the Fabrique and its members and the impact of the proposals made together are based on the respect by each ally of working methods and disciplines that are joyfully agreed upon and effectively respected.

These working methods and disciplines will be enriched over time. An initial list can already be drawn up which reflects three requirements : the constitution and permanent enrichment of the common heritage ; transparency, a condition of trust ; the mutualisation of opportunities and mutual assistance.

a) The constitution and enrichment of the common heritage :

  • the common bank of experiences and operational concepts, recalling and enhancing the value of their producers, built up from experience feedback systems and with an index adapted to the systemic and relational nature of the approaches ;

  • the bank of reflection documents, tools, methods and proposals relating to changes in the framework for conducting transitions.

b) Transparency as a condition of trust :

  • the directory of allies and the presentation of the field of activities of each of them ;

  • the transparent accounting of the use of financial support from the Fabrique and the distribution of related expenses, according to their nature and purpose ;

  • the visibility of the commitments made for the Fabrique.

c) Mutualisation of opportunities and mutual assistance :.

  • the bank of initiatives and events, making it possible to associate the allies who wish to do so with the initiatives of each of them ;

  • the bank of skills enabling the Factory to recommend methodological support to the territories involved, to encourage multi-actor dynamics on a multi-scale, recognisable in the objectives, values, methods and disciplines of the Factory, and to mobilise allies in a reciprocal, flexible and decentralised manner to respond to requests for support.

4. The current organs of the Fabrique

The Factory is not timeless. It has an origin, a history and a long history. It calls for effective leadership by people who derive their legitimacy not from a statutory position but from their competence, from their contribution to the history of the common adventure, from their ability to embody the spirit and values of the Fabrique. On this basis, we can identify three bodies in addition to the group of founders.

The founders. The initiative for the creation of the Fabrique came from a small group of people and institutions gathered around Jean-François Caron, Mayor of Loos-en-Gohelle and his chief of staff, Julian Perdrigeat. These founders will not have any eminent prerogatives in the future but, in a first stage, they embody the spirit of the Fabrique ;

  1. The guarantors. To ensure that this spirit is maintained over the long term, the founders created a group of guarantors. They will have no operational responsibility in the Factory but will ensure that its objectives and ethics are respected. They will draw the attention of the allies to possible slippages and will propose remedies ;

  2. The operational team - or general secretariat of the Factory - is dedicated to the implementation of the annual work programme and initially to the elaboration of the feasibility of the Factory in all its dimensions. Its legitimacy rests on the involvement and recognised competence of its members. The initial core will be constituted with and by the founders. It draws up the proposal for the annual work programme submitted to the allies, ensures the dissemination of methods and tools, prepares collective deadlines, encourages and possibly coordinates initiatives taken jointly by allies, ensures cooperation between all, trains newcomers in working methods, shapes the common heritage of the Alliance and its advances. The team must be small and compact. It does not have to take on all of the Fabrique’s objectives or to acquire all of the skills it needs. On the contrary, it must ensure that missions are shared among all the allies according to the skills of each one and on the basis of a collective exchange ;

  3. the Assembly exchanges information on a regular basis via the Internet. It is organised according to the topics discussed. It meets at least once a year to ensure that the trust placed in the operational team is honoured, to measure progress, to develop the common heritage on the basis of the contributions of each member and to define the prospects for the coming year.

5. Work rhythms

The Factory develops on an annual and three-year basis.

a) Annual cycle

Each year an annual work programme is adopted. It is based on mutual commitment. Decisions that do not meet with the support of the interested parties would have no impact. A balance sheet is drawn up. It concerns :

  • the evaluation of the common heritage ;

  • the state of progress of the transitions undertaken ; 

  • the identification of blockages and the proposals made collectively to remove them;

  • a joint programme of work and development of the Factory’s cooperative relations, including international relations, by supporting allies who already have established networks.

b) Three-year cycle

The Charter of Alliance is the keel of the Factory, so that it does not capsize at the slightest storm. It is not a text engraved in marble. Every three years it is subject to a collective rereading and may be enriched in the light of everyone’s experience.