A new kind of society is on its way, "embrace it !"

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Our societies are undergoing a major transformation

"Our house is on fire and we're looking the other way" said  Jacques CHIRAC in 2002 at the  4TH Earth summit in  Johannesburg. More than 10 years on, and the fire is burning more fiercely than ever, but it would seem that more and more people (Europeans at least) are watching, and trying to put out the flames, or at least to get them under control.
Today, public opinion is  generally in agreement, largely as a result of the numerous documentaries on the different crises that society has experienced, from 'An inconvenient truth'  made by Davis Guggenheim in 2006, to 'Goldman Sachs, the bank that rules the world' made by Jérôme Fritel et Marc Roche in 2012, as well as 'Local solutions for global disorder' by Coline Serreau in 2010.
Alongside these thematic findings, the concept of a systemic crisis is emerging, linked to our very development model,  in a world of finite resources , in which
 it is neither viable, liveable , nor fair .....for anyone.  Some are looking at  'growth' as the signal of the end of a period of crisis, yet we know now that "we have been blinded by growth and  the GDP1 " (Stiglitz Commission report , 2009). Some on the other hand feel that the situation requires  immediate changes in society, while others argue for a change in civilization itself.


It is time for action not words

Whatever the words, even if their meaning is important , it is now time for action rather than words. In this case, that is exactly what was said by over  2,700 people who took part in 86 public debates2 organised from October 2012 to March 2013 in the  Pays de la Loire region3, an initiative of the Chair partnership for sustainable human development and territorial development.
Based on findings from these debates, which centred on energy transition,  and the results of more than 1,500  post-debate questionnaires, 9 recommendations were drawn up2, focused on a vision of society,  collaborative governance  and the involvement of individuals and organizations.
After this initial phase of collective definition of a vision of society in terms of energy, a number of possible lines of action have been defined  :
    ⁃    the education and  raising of public awareness  of  the effects of energy transition,  from  the point of view of the individual, and society.
    ⁃    demonstration projects and experimentation  in centres (in both urban and rural catchment areas)


A new kind of society is on its way, embrace it ! 


Everybody wants to live in a society where there is harmony among people, and harmony between people and nature4 . Everybody wants to have healthy food, grown without damaging the environment. We all want renewable energy, which does not have a negative impact on people and the environment. Who could possibly be against more measures, both literally and figuratively, to share resources, for solidarity between peoples ?.....
This should be an inspiring vision rather than a frightenening one, it should get everyone moving rather than hinder the efforts of individuals, it should unlock the imagination,not hold things back. This vision is nevertheless making headway, Utopia looking more and more like a continuation  as before, hiding behind TINA5.
If more and more doubts are being voiced about the will and/or the ability of the  economic and financial forces in place, of the States and the international community to provide appropriate solutions  and within the time allocated, local and regional areas, seem more conducive to taking part in the transition. This has been shown clearly  in the case of German regionalisation.
From  councilors, salaried workers, company directors, and members of the community, to professional organizations…, the idea of society responsibility and involvement is gaining ground, and surprisingly quickly. The Great convergence6 is underway, with the timing we decide, and with fits and starts  but it will  be done.
In this context of change, the Pays de la Loire region is taking an active role, with a number of initiatives by regional authorities, and the regional dynamism of the  ESS ( Social Economy and Solidarity ), as well as with company directors from the west of France being actively involved (Dirigeants responsables de l’ouestd’entreprises engagées)7, with prizes being awarded at regional level for sustainable development 8, with training for management such as  at the  Collège des transitions sociétales9(College for social transition), and with the Chair parnership for sustainable human and territorial development.
Shared and open management is now underway, results of experiments are coming out, a new kind of society is coming into being, in all likelihood  beginning at local level.

After Bernard Lemoult
Lecturer at the Ecole des Mines de Nantes
Coordinator of research into energy transition for the  Chair of sustainable human and territorial development .
'embrace it !'

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