What Erik Orsenna is telling us in “Paving the way for a good city”
In “Paving the Way for a Good City” published by the Urban Strategy Council, Erik Orsenna offers us a fascinating summary of his vision for the city of tomorrow.
Global urbanisation will trigger sea changes in society and increase competition between cities. The weakening influence of nation states reveals the irresistible rise of the metropolis. No longer will France rival Germany or China, but Paris will vie with London or Shanghai, and at a more local level, Bordeaux will square up to Toulouse.
A community in perpetual construction, the city must reinvent itself to become the “good city”. The question is how do we improve the five essential physiological functions that are water supply, wastewater treatment, waste management, energy and mobility? In other words, how can we deliver urban amenity through utilities?
Which vision of the future do we use as the springboard? Through which novel can the city and its people take pride in being together as a community and put their commitment behind a project capable of expressing their vitality? And using what types of expertise, mutual coordination or even authority? How will it be possible to create a fully integrated fabric of functions and people, at the same time as managing scarce resources, space and time.
It’s a challenge, not only for technology, but also for governance through the need for new social balances yet to be invented.
Erik Orsenna, spokesman for the Urban Strategy Council
A specialist in sustainable development, the environment, agriculture and emerging economies, Erik Orsenna has lectured at the Ecole Normale Supérieure and the Université Paris I. Having been cultural adviser to François Mitterrand, he was later appointed to the Conseil d’Etat. Elected as a member of the Académie française in 1998, he has published many books. Published in 2006, “Journey to the Lands of Cotton” was the first part of his “Brief Manual of Globalization”. It was followed by “The Future of Water and The Paper Road”. His experience and personal interests made him the clear and natural choice as spokesman for the Urban Strategy Council think tank set up in 2012 by ENGIE.