Given the difficulty of achieving a global agreement to cope with the challenges of climate change or even a national resilience programme, an increasing number of initiatives are coming up from the local level for pre-emptively implementing policies to adapt to climate change or combat it. There are several towns and cities across the world that have taken this line (Copenhagen, Totnes, Växjö, Bristol, etc.) but, as Jean Haëntjens shows here, an effective response to climate change requires the development of a genuine strategic vision capable of mobilizing all the actors concerned. For the moment, the towns and cities that have managed to come up with such a vision are few and far between.
After a –largely historical– review of the importance of vision in changes of urban paradigm, Jean Haëntjens stresses how much twenty-first century eco-urbanism broadens the range of possible solutions to the many issues facing our towns and cities today. But, though digital innovations in fact offer new opportunities at the local level, we should nonetheless be wary of “technological solutionism”: the new technologies are tools which towns and cities can use to their advantage, but to become really “smart” they have to develop a vision. After presenting a series of established or emerging urban models (the frugal city, the creative city, the leisure city and the eco-metropolis), along with the values and imaginative conceptions that underpin them, this article shows –without being unaware of the potential obstacles– how a town or city can produce and renew its strategic vision to reinvent itself and meet the challenges of today.