Sustainable development is in vogue. It has taken a long time for this to come about, but seldom are political or economic decisions taken these days without reference to this imperative. This is crucial, but not, in the end, all that new. As Jean Haëntjens shows here, whereas the state - particularly in France, but also elsewhere in Europe - drags its heels before engaging in new fields, towns and cities have generally taken a lead, particularly where sustainable development is concerned.
Recalling the recent renovation of cities and urban authorities in France, the author stresses the extent to which urban centres are crucibles of social and cultural innovation. There is evidence of this from the past, and current trends, particularly in Europe, confirm it: cities are playing a pioneering role in sustainable development, whether in terms of adaptation of the living environment, transport or modes of life... As Jean Haëntjens argues, cities are, without a doubt, the relevant level from which to bring sustainable development into daily life and prepare citizens for a post-oil world.