Urban Transitions to Sustainability


The theme of this 4th edition of the International Rencontres de Reims in Sustainability Studies was ‘Urban Transitions to Sustainability’.

Nearly 70% of the world population lives in urban areas and nearly 75% of economic activity is located therein. Urban areas concentrate not only wealth but also extreme poverty and environmental degradation. Despite the significant progress in urbanization, still a billion people live in the slums of urban areas. The issue of urban transitions to sustainability is a major challenge. In Europe, the 2007 Leipzig Charter puts “sustainable cities” on top of the agenda for sustainability. Two years later, the situation report of the European Commission on the European Union Sustainable Development Strategy considers the issue of “Sustainable Cities” as a major axis.

Nevertheless, these initiatives should not lead to a standardized approach to urban transitions to sustainability, but rather to recognize and promote the diversity of paths that lead to sustainable cities. Despite differences in history, type of development, size and heritage, cities still have an unexplored potential in adaptability.

Even if there are several means and pathways for the transition towards sustainability of urban areas, heuristic tools are still needed to help cities to take decisions and assess their relevance. What kind of issues, convergences and disagreements do transitions towards sustainability of urban areas face today? That is the topic of the 4th Rheims International Conference in Sustainability Studies.

This 4th edition of the Rencontres Internationales de Reims on Sustainability Studies was organized around three complementary events:

  • A “residential” international seminar…
  • …followed by a conference open to the public
  • A “parallel” summer school
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Workshops Rencontres 2014

Workshops

Conference Rencontres 2014

Conference

Summer School Rencontres 2014

Summer School

A “residential” international seminar…


The closed seminar was structured around three workshops with around fifteen participants. Each workshop had focused on one of the following themes:

  1. What dialogues and what conflicts between science, technology and society to achieve a transition to sustainability of urban areas?
  2. What horizons to think the transition: expanding cities – shrinking landscape vs. shrinking cities – expanding landscapes?
  3. What kind of relations among the various scales of action and among the different systems of actors can create the conditions of a transition to sustainability for urban areas?

During these workshops, some participants hold the roles of chair, keynote speaker and rapporteur:

Distribution of the roles
Date and time Session Chair* Keynote** Rapporteur***
Tuesday 24 june
11:30am -12:00pm
Opening
session
Tuesday 24 june
2:00pm – 5:00pm
Workshop 1 N. Salingaros S. Jasanoff D. Reckien
Wednesday 25 june
9:00am – 12:00pm
Workshop 2 B. Secchi C. Ghorra-Gobin N. Salingaros
Wednesday 25 june
2:00pm – 5:00pm
Workshop 3 F. Mancebo M. Sargolini M. Hisschemöller

* Chair: Control and distribution of speaking time
** Keynote speaker: Preparing theme in 20 minutes introducing the debate
*** Rapporteur: Writing a report which will be presented orally at the conference Thursday, June 26 and will then be put online

These workshops have received support from the house of Veuve Clicquot that put at our disposal a seminar room, offered us lunch, gala dinner and a visit of the cellar on the margins of the two-day workshops.

A conference open to the public


An international conference open to the public had taken place on Thursday, June 26th in order to communicate and debate the findings of the residential part of the event.

The public conference of these 4th edition of the International Rencontres de Reims in Sustainability Studies hold on Thursday 26 June 2014 in the Town Hall of Reims with the participation of Nikos Salingaros, Massimo Sargolini, Cynthia Ghorra-Gobin, Matthijs Hisschemöller and François Mancebo.

After an opening by the authorities and a high-level speech by one of the participants, the three rapporteurs had presented the main findings of each workshop. In the second part of the final conference, a panel discussion and debate had been organized with the public on the contents presented in the morning.

Program of the conference – Thursday 26 June 2014


9.00 am – Registration of participants


9.30 am – Welcome speech

Nathalie MiravetteMaire adjointe on Urban Planning
Jacques MeyerPremier vice-président du Conseil Régional de
Champagne-Ardenne délégué à l’enseignement supérieur

Gilles Bayat – President of the University of Reims


[French]


10.00 am – Introductory remarks

François Mancebo – Professor at the of the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne


[French]


10.15 am – Introduction – Urban Transitions to Sustainability

Nikos Salingaros – Planner, Architectural Theorist and Professor of
Applied Mathematics at the University of Texas at San Antonio, United States


[English]


Restitution of the workshops


10.50 am – 1st workshop
What dialogues and what conflicts between science, technology and society
to achieve a transition to sustainability of urban areas?

Diana Reckien – Senior Climate Impact Scientist at Climate Analytics Berlin, Germany


[English]


11.10 am – 2nd workshop
What horizons to think the transition: expanding cities –
shrinking landscape vs. shrinking cities – expanding landscapes?

Nikos Salingaros – Planner, Architectural Theorist and Professor of Applied Mathematics
at the University of Texas at San Antonio, United States


[English]


11.30 am – 3rd workshop
What kind of relations among the various scales of action and among the different systems of actors
can create the conditions of a transition to sustainability for urban areas?

Matthijs Hisschemöller – Researcher at the Free University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands


[English]


11.50 am – Discussion with the audience


[English]


12.50 pm – Buffet


2.00 pm – Graduation of the participants of the Summer School 2014


[English]


Roundtable


2.30 pm – Which sustainability City for Tomorrow ?

Matthijs Hisschemöller – Researcher at the Free University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands,
François Mancebo – Professor at the of the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne,
Massimo Sargolini – Associate Professor of Urban Planning at the
School of Architecture and Design of the University of Camerino, Italy,
Hélène Valade – Director of Sustainable Development, Suez Environnement


[English]


5.00 pm – End of working


First Summer School


IRCS (International Research Center on Sustainability) at Rheims University hosted a Summer School on Urban Transitions to Sustainability in the framework of the yearly Rencontres Internationales in Sustainability Studies. This summer school was organized jointly with SENSE (The Netherland Research School for Socio-Economic and Natural Sciences of the Environment).

This course was specifically designed for doctoral students, post-docs and young scholars who wish to further explore urban sustainability, discuss cutting-edge research with peers and established scholars alike and develop specific skills such as presenting their own research, developing abstracts and discussing the research of other scholars in the make.
The course took place in an environment that favours mutual learning, exchange and conviviality surrounded by the beautiful landscape of Champagne.

The Summer School was composed of three modules and a high level final conference. The specific topics of each module were the following:

  1. Citizen participation;
  2. Sustainable urban water management;
  3. Smart grids.

Each module lasted a full day and was composed of two sessions:

  • Morning session: interactive lectures;
  • Afternoon session: parallel workshops:
    1. Research seminars (participants presented their research followed by a discussion animated by an established scholar);
    2. Tandem discussion (participants presented another participant’s research);
    3. Abstract discussion (participants discussed their abstracts in small groups).

Each participant was expected to attend the morning lectures, as well as presented and discussed their research and abstracts in the afternoon workshops.

The final day was devoted to the participation in the final conference of the Fourth Rencontres Internationales de Reims in Sustainability Studies, which this year also focused on Urban Transitions to Sustainability. Confirmed participants include Nicos Salingaros (University of Texas at San Antonio), Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School, USA), Antoine Picon (Harvard School of Design, USA), Ignacy Sachs (EHESS, France) and Bernardo Secchi (IUAV, Italy).

Next events


Underground Cities - Living Below the Surface: Supporting Urban Transition to Sustainability

The next Rencontres de Reims in sustainability studies will be host on October 2016 on the theme of "Underground Cities".
The third dimension of the city concerned, essentially, height growth. However, basements are already important components of urban operation and more and more cities around the world are also considering their development underground.
The sixth Rencontres Internationales de Reims in Sustainability Science meet, to discuss this subject, eight leading researchers: Jeremy Rifkin, Alain Berthoz, Alain Bourdin, Catherine Grout, Amos Kloner, François Mancebo, Aurèle Parriaux and Sylvie Salles.
This event will take place on Wednesday 26 and Thursday, October 27, 2016 in Reims (Faculty of Arts and Humanities).

You could visit the web page of the event for more information.

Past events


5th Rencontres


Urban Agriculture

15-16 October 2015

4th Rencontres


Urban Transition to Sustainability

24-26 June 2014

1st Summer School


Urban Transition to Sustainability

23-26 June 2014

3rd Rencontres


Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals:
Towards a New Social Contract

19-20 June 2013

2nd Rencontres


Which Systems of Governance for Which Sustainability after Rio+20?

26-27 September 2012

1st Rencontres


Social Justice and Sustainability:
Back to Planning?

22-23 June 2011