Towards a low footprint for a more resilient and attractive territory

Grand Lyon (France)/Monteria (Colombia)


Fonds mondial pour le développement des villes (FMDV)

The causes and effects of environmental, economic, health and social risks incurred by territories require an increasingly high technical level of understanding, analysis and responses on the part of public decision-makers and local administrations. The City of Monteria in Colombia (403,280 inhabitants for 3,142 km2) and the Urban Community of Greater Lyon in France (1.2 million inhabitants for 527 km2) have decided to build a partnership with private sector stakeholders, which have the skills and experience to provide expert solutions to the challenges that future changes pose for local authorities.

The calculation of the carbon footprint, which has led to the definition of a Climate Plan (Monteria), and the innovative implementation of the calculation of a territory’s environmental footprint (Greater Lyon) are two examples today of a forward-looking and innovative approach which local authorities and elected officials are required to take. This gives them all the necessary keys and allows them to make informed decisions for the planning and sustainable development of their territories over time.

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Greater Lyon – France: A forward-looking and innovative approach, at the heart of the territorial project}}}

The Urban Community of Greater Lyon comprises 58 municipalities and 1.2 million inhabitants over an area of 527 km2. It is recognised for its national and international economic and cultural outreach, the quality of living conditions that it offers and for its firm commitment to sustainable development.

Its 2012 budget stood at EUR 1.94bn and is devoted to competences that are both varied and complementary (highways, drinking water distribution and treatment, waste, transport, definition of urban planning documents, housing and social housing, major city facilities and economic development plans for the territory).

A territorial label, “Only Lyon”, promotes its economic dynamism and international reputation, catalysing its ability to be noticed by decision-makers and investors, who are particularly interested in joining the recognised thematic competitiveness hubs (cleantech, life sciences, etc.) of a city with high service sector density.

Greater Lyon maintains its level of attractiveness by constantly innovating, particularly with its policy for major sustainable and developmental urban projects, which transform its territory into a city that is both polycentric and compact. The Community is also, as part of the implementation of its local Agenda 21, working to organise its ecological and social transition in order to build its resilience to climate change and its impacts on the city. It does so by actively communicating and by seeking the most appropriate instruments to bring together local stakeholders (economic agents, academics and institutions, associations, elected officials and citizens) to support the sustainable territorial project it has defined.

The ecological footprint: an initial assessment

In line with this objective, back in 2003, Greater Lyon calculated its ecological footprint1, an environmental communication and educational tool par excellence, which completes the sectoral vision provided by thematic environmental indicators. The result (4.9 ha per capita per year) turned out to be lower than the national average (5.26 ha per capita per year, 1999 baseline) and made it possible to identify the sectors which contributed most and, therefore, the ad hoc policies and activities to be implemented in order to reduce this footprint.

However, while the ecological footprint is an instrument that can conveniently strike the imagination, many aspects still need to be perfected, such as the integration of natural or industrial risks, the impact of human pollution, particularly in aquatic environments, but also in the atmosphere, the impact of water management, or more subjective notions regarding the living environment.

Carrying the Environmental Footprint further: for a new integrated territorial approach

The need expressed by territories to be attractive, and to remain so through harmonious economic and social development, requires an overall systemic approach and the use of instruments that are sufficiently powerful to interpret and manage complex interconnected systems (and that put local and global into perspective).

It is in this spirit that the Veolia Environnement Group has proposed to the Greater Lyon Urban Community to adopt an innovative forward-looking approach in 2013, included in the “Eco-City – City of Tomorrow” call for projects. This national call for projects aims to finance and promote demonstration and exemplary projects, which should help change urban habits and practices in order to develop a healthy, low-consumption, adaptable and attractive city. The programme involves using innovative Environmental Footprint indicators, with a wider scope than those of the ecological footprint, based on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), but used at the level of the territory. The optimisation of this Environmental Footprint therefore directly contributes to the economic viability and quality of life in the territory, which guarantee its attractiveness and its eco-social competitiveness.

The objective of this multi-criteria tool is to inform decision-making by providing the most accurate possible picture, in an iterative manner, of the activities generated by local stakeholders and their environmental impacts at the local and global level (see Diagram 1). The territory is subsequently clearly defined as a consumer on the one hand, and a producer on the other hand. The calculation of the territory’s environmental footprint is also developed using open source methods, which are therefore available to all, and everyone can take ownership of them and perfect them.

A new territorial approaCh via its environmental footprint. I– Compares the environmental intensity of consumption patterns (compared to a neighbouring territory, an American, a Chinese person, etc.) ; II– Assesses the environmental effectiveness of the territory considered as a producer of goods ; III– Assesses the destruction of local natural capital and the quality of the local environment (“green” GDP, new wealth indicators, etc.) ; IV– Assesses the territory’s dependence on related territories: the environmental impacts that allow the territory to live are generated in other territories (e.g. China, a production machine for Europe) ; V– The territory’s real “environmental balance”.
from FMDV, 2012 ; source : Veolia

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The 4 footprints developed by Veolia Environnement

The methodologies used to calculate these footprints have been developed using state of the art international scientific analytical research on life cycles and environmental databases.

Each footprint taken individually is not “exhaustive” as it does not cover all the possible impacts on the area that needs protecting. However, the combined use of the 4 footprints covers a maximum number of impacts and offers, in echo to the territory’s strategies, a multi-dimensional assessment of their economic and environmental, and therefore societal, impacts.

Environmental footprint
from FMDV, 2012 ; source : Véolia

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A new compass for a change of course

The environmental footprint covers a broad range of environmental issues and makes their linkages with economic and social issues visible and tangible for decision-makers and their teams. Indeed, under an urban development policy, the only way to make informed decisions and avoid possible “pollution transfers” (or transfers of damage between the environmental areas to be protected) is to holistically take account of all the environmental impacts.

This “360-degree” calculation aims to mobilise – but in the same direction – territorial stakeholders, which have both a common goal and individual interests, for the benefit of the majority.

The environmental footprint above all provides a broader vision of the environmental impact of an industry, product or territorial project in its entirety. This allows local stakeholders to build alternative scenarios able to guide their future toward the most effective sustainable solution, recommended by national and international climate change frameworks. “The competence of knowledge” makes it possible to define unprecedented eco-social opportunities for stakeholders and territories.

from FMDV, 2012

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Monteria – Colombie: A common dynamic to reduce carbon in the territory

By signing the Global Cities Covenant on Climate, the so-called “Mexico City Pact”, in November 2010, Monteria officially became a fully-fledged member of the international group of territorial authorities leading the fight against climate change.

The city, faced with the obligation to take account of urgent issues and meet residents’ needs, engaged in a process to adopt the most effective sustainable solution. The aim is to guide the next ten years of its history toward a momentum of balanced and innovative growth that respects the environment, reduces its carbon emissions and, at the same time, ensures the quality of life for Monterians.

A partnership for an enhanced expertise and policy

For 10 years now, the municipality has been under contract with Proactiva Medio Ambiente, a subsidiary of the Veolia Environnement groups and FCC, for the management of its water and sanitation services. It has decided to innovate by becoming the first Colombian city to calculate its carbon footprint2, on the basis of the know-how of its private partner. The latter was already conducting this environmental accountability within the scope of its delegated activities.

There was a twofold interest for the city to have a “carbon mapping” of its territory and its different activities:

On the one hand, to identify the link between its resources and its expenditure and take better account of the risks and opportunities, particularly regarding ongoing activities,

And on the other hand, to guide its sustainable development policy and take stock of this carbon mapping and the resulting policy via the “Monteria Green City 2019” Climate Plan during its definition and adoption.

For Proactiva Medio Ambiente, this successful pilot experiment has created strong added value for the local authority and enriched its partnership with the city. It heralds a new offer to support local authorities, directly linked with the economic and social development of the territory, which necessarily requires an informed management of its environmental footprint.

This public-private partnership has allowed each party to enhance its social and environmental responsibility as a local stakeholder in applied sustainable development. This is fully in line with Colombia’s national commitments, which are based on the reports and recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

A favourable context for change

Several core elements have ensured the success of the process initiated by Marcos Daniel Pineda Garcia, the Mayor of the city until early 2012 and at the origin of this sustainable change.

He was 33 at the time of the launch of the calculation of the territory’s carbon footprint, and was initially one of the new generation of elected officials aware of the climate challenges posed by local development and the related opportunities.

His successor, Carlos Eduardo Correa Escaf (from the same party and aged 38 at the time), subsequently ensured political continuity. In 2012, he took up the torch of a policy called Progress for All, which is based on the responsible integration of the environmental and social dimensions of the city’s sustainable development strategy.

Finally, the close cooperation with Proactiva was based on an active and cross-cutting working group gathering city officials and technicians from the company, brought together on the initiative of the first Mayor and led by the elected official himself.

The growing importance of sustainable and strategic territorial planning

This strong political leadership has been combined with regular meetings between Proactiva’s technical teams and those of each city department and service. The aim was to explain the approach, disseminate technical documents and obtain the information required for the introduction of the calculation of the territory’s carbon footprint and the definition of the Climate Plan.

These internal meetings at the municipality were completed with public meetings with residents led by the Mayor. There were also consultations with the main stakeholders in the territory, notably the university (on reforestation and carbon neutrality), companies in the different sectors (notably energy), and the city’s associations of farmers and architects. At the national level, the cities network reflecting on the national strategy for climate change adaptation and the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development were also consulted.

The report on Monteria’s carbon footprint was published in May 2011 after 5 months of joint technical work. It concluded that the carbon footprint (2009 baseline) stood at 1.24 million tEqCO2, with over 73% from the agricultural sector – AFOLU (livestock alone accounting for over half of total CO2 emissions). Per capita emissions stood at 3.07 tEqCO23.

The result of this initial carbon calculation determined both the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the municipality and the vulnerabilities to which the city is exposed. It also highlighted possible areas of action to meet sustainable development needs and draw on the expertise of local stakeholders.

They were included in the Climate Plan and made it possible to identify 15 challenges translated into 26 costed flagship actions, embodied by a strong political will aiming to transform Monteria into a “green city by 2019”. The Plan was published in August 2011 and sets out to consolidate equitable urban policies, scale up the deployment of the municipality’s physical infrastructure, enhance the availability of public spaces and promote a civic culture.

The use of clean technologies, the efficient management of public services, the orientation of the city’s development towards a “low-carbon economy”, the promotion of changes in behaviour and habits and the use of financial resources from carbon finance and green funds are all vehicles for reducing GHG emissions by 20% by 2019.

The municipality, which is engaged in a collaborative exchange with a long-term partner company and the leader in environmental services on the continent, has gained regional and national recognition thanks to this proactive approach. This today allows it to consider integrating mitigation, adaptation, compensation and awareness-raising programmes in close connection with its territorial development plan. It now has a more developed argument on its attractiveness and competiveness, able to convince potential investors and influence the strategic technological decisions that need to be made in order to restructure its resource-consuming and productive activities in the territory.

Net emissions of Co2 equivalent by sub-seCtor
from FMDV, 2012

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« For local elected officials, investing in the field of environmental sustainability provides an opportunity to innovate in the city’s management, gain public support and have privileged access to funds to finance the implementation of large-scale investments for the territory », Janis Rey Lozada – Project Manager – Proactiva Medio Ambiente.

from FMDV, 2012

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1 The ecological footprint is the land area required for a human population to ensure its way of life and consumption: eating habits, housing, travel, production and provision of goods and services. It is a synthetic indicator of the supply/demand ratio for land resources of biological origin (food, fossil fuels, materials…).

2 The carbon footprint calculates the quantity of carbon (generally in tonnes) emitted by an activity, organisation or territory.

3 The ideal (equitable) value of the carbon footprint is 1.3 teqCO2 per capita per year. It is the result of the research of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).