“We do not know”

abril 09, 2020

How difficult it is to write an editorial in such a troubled period, in a deeply divided Europe. We are continuously bombarded with information and, in this context, it is really hard not to get caught up in a vortex of feelings, torn between a wild hope for a better world and the sheer horror of a dreadful reality.

This bewilderment further erodes citizens’ trust in policy-makers. The range of different responses and measures taken in Europe by the countries affected is unsettling, but the comments made by citizens about their governments or by national leaders about their counterparts are equally disturbing: distrust is gaining momentum.

Amongst all this bewilderment, how can mayors respond to the healthcare emergency and social tragedies while ensuring the continuity of their city’s vital functions and yet be able to prepare for the impending post-crisis economic disaster?

My daughter told me this morning: “I hadn’t realised how hard it’d be not to be able to go to the library!”  I do not know whether it is the sense of freedom she gets from her trips to the library (and probably further…) or really the books that she misses, but for her this municipal service is vital! According to Bruno Latour, we must urgently draw up an inventory of what we deem essential, of what really matters to us, and what better time to do so than now, when we are deprived of access to all that is NOT “essential”.

Doing this exercise for each city to prepare for the “after” -or rather the future, for I am not sure (something else we do not know) whether there will be an “after”- would enable us to consider the actual resilience of our territories, not that dreamed of, but rather an economy based on the needs and resources of each community, neighbourhood, agricultural area, micro-region, etc. The scale may vary depending on which one is the most relevant. Toilet paper, for example, is a most needed commodity: knowing that there is a production plant less than 100km from where I live is a great comfort to me; but the plant receives wood from all over the world and uses astronomical quantities of power and water!  Since energy and raw materials are not produced locally, a whole new supply ecosystem must be created.

As Christian Salmon wrote in his article entitled “Coronarration”, “governing is no longer about foreseeing but about managing the unforeseeable”. This is also valid at the local level. But to achieve this, we need to have a clear picture of our local resources. We need to describe our baseline situation differently.

The healthcare crisis we are facing increases mistrust in the political decisions and discourse. It is essential that elected representatives build on the solidarity every one of us is experiencing in our neighbourhoods, where local solutions are being devised to meet local needs (e.g. the masks produced by volunteers in Brussels). This shared experience will give us the strength to forge resilience. We must not be afraid but rather build trust between citizens and municipalities by admitting we do not know.   

We do not know what to do, do you have any ideas?

Opening “all-risk areas”[1] , i.e. places of experimentation, would boost the credibility of local leaders. It is urgent to say: “We do not know what to do, do you have any ideas?” This is what the city of Helsinki has recently done with its “Helsinki Energy Challenge” which aims to reward the best solution for decarbonating urban heating.

We do not know everything, but we are going to work together on a solution. Taking into account what really matters to us, our local resources, our interdependence with neighbouring territories and the solidarity of city networks, sharing their experiences to further disseminate them. This is the role of Energy Cities, CLER, and so many of our partners.

In fact, we do not know what the
future holds and it is a good thing, because we can prepare for it by choosing
to build trust and decide for ourselves what really matters to us.

NB: I would like to thank AOC, a news website Energy Cities subscribes to, which offers incredibly high-quality ideas and whose latest articles really inspired me when writing this editorial. Feel free to subscribe! 

[1] “examples include the “cooperative workshops” that are emerging in a number of public institutions (like the Education Office  of  Besançon) where new ways of exchanging, cooperating and  co-producing solutions are creating new experimentation and trust areas that are still unused by civil society actors and local decision-makers .” Hervé Maillot, from cooperative workshop at the “Rectorat de l’académie de Besançon”

The post “We do not know” appeared first on Energy Cities.

Enlace a la noticia: “We do not know”

Uso de cookies

Este sitio web utiliza cookies para que usted tenga la mejor experiencia de usuario. Si continúa navegando está dando su consentimiento para la aceptación de las mencionadas cookies y la aceptación de nuestra política de cookies, pinche el enlace para mayor información.

Aviso de cookies