Continuing the series begun in May 2012 that aims to reflect the “Territories 2040” foresight exercise launched in 2009 in France by DATAR, the national spatial planning agency, Gilles Pinson presents the lessons drawn from the work of the Foresight Group on Metropolitan Systems. After a timely reminder of the objectives of this foresight study – not to predict the future, but to “introduce a little perplexity into public policy networks” – he outlines the questions that framed the exercise: how are we to define a metropolis in France today and what are the major trends at work in the metropolitan systems in the particular context of post-Fordism and neo-liberal globalization? In this way, he shows the extent to which the economic developments at work at the international level modify and structure economic activities, social relations and ways of living and working in the French metropolises.
Drawing on this, Pinson presents the three scenarios developed for the years to 2040: the “Mercapole” scenario, characterized by hyperconnection, the rise of the private sector, the domination of economic interests and actors in the property market, which combines densification at the centre and urban sprawl on the outskirts; the “Archipole”, in which metropolises pay more than due regard to public regulation, but also engage in greater surveillance of citizens, against a background of city densification and respect for the environment; and, lastly, the “Antipole” scenario, a scenario of decoupling from the French economy against a background of the repoliticization of urban issues and local institutions, expressed in the emergence of “heritage” or tourist cities, on the one hand, and cities dominated by social groups developing alternatives to the neo-liberal model on the other. In conclusion, Gilles Pinson stresses the contribution of these scenarios to the thinking of public actors with regard, in particular, to levels of decision-making (European Union, state or cities) and the directions to be taken by policies on spatial planning and development.