Futuribles devoted its summer issue (no. 354, July-August 2009) to the future of European cities in the current context of combating global warming and promoting sustainable development. As an extension of this debate, we are publishing a “forum” this month devoted more specifically to the future of Paris, as it is emerging following the series of consultations on the “Greater Paris” question and French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s stated preference for a sustainable capital extending as far as the port of Le Havre.
Jean-Paul Lacaze, a specialist in urban development, offers a highly critical analysis of this project here. Apart from certain “incongruous” aspects of the project, he deplores the failure to take account of the specific economic and social features of the Île-de-France region and the potential worsening of inequalities between the prosperous western part of that region and the less affluent eastern area. He stresses the serious housing problem in the region, which would not be solved by this new project. And though he agrees on the need to set the Parisian metropolis on a sustainable course, he doesn’t feel the necessary investment has been committed. In his view, it will take a large-scale experiment continuing for at least a decade if the hope is to bring Paris, along with many other French cities, into the “post-Kyoto” era.