In 2001, Jean-Louis Guigou, at that time head of the French regional planning agency DATAR, launched a programme of foresight studies under the title "Territoires 2020". Ten public policy issues were identified and ten working groups were set up to look into them. One of them ("groupe 9") was charged with investigating the relationship between future regional planning and public action, under the chairmanship of Jean-Paul Bailly, who was then the chief executive of the RATP (the Parisian public transport authority) and who had already written a report for the Economic and Social Council on the role of future studies in public decision-making. In 2003, their work was written up but never published, with an "afterword" by Jean-Paul Bailly, of which this text is a long extract.
How can a long-term perspective be reintroduced into public action? This question lies at the heart of the study undertaken. Jean-Paul Bailly starts by observing that there are deficiencies as regards both decision-making and public debate; he proposes that a future studies approach should be adopted as the basis for a new form of governance and so play a key role as the catalyst of collective thinking. He stresses that the process of devolution as well as the possibilities offered by new forms of local administration mean that the regions offer an ideal level at which this new type of governance can be expressed. With some references to actual experiences, Jean-Paul Bailly explores how regional planning and public action can be linked so as to enable there to be co-ordinated development, shaping desirable options for the future together.