Monday 13 November 2017

Greater Geneva : a cooperative cross-border area

The Swiss partners from the Cantons of Vaud and Geneva and their French counterparts have devised a shared vision of their territory’s development combining mobility, urban development and environmental measures, spurred on by the “Conurbation Project” approach promoted by the Swiss Confederation since 2007 and eligible to co-funding.
Energy Cities met Pierre Jean Crastes, co-President of Greater Geneva’s Cross-border Energy Community and Vice-President for the energy transition at the Metropolitan Pole of the French Geneva area.

Mr Crastes, running an ambitious energy policy in a single area or country is complicated enough by itself. Why have you decided to join forces with the Swiss section of the conurbation to implement the energy transition?

The Greater Geneva area is crossed by national, cantonal and departmental borders. However, it constitutes a single living area for all its inhabitants - both French and Swiss – and its future can only be considered collectively.
We believe that energy is a structuring component of our future and that our common resources must be managed and developed together in a shared vision. Like for drinking water, although the issue is more complex, our only option is to aim to create a common strategy.

What synergies have you identified and what difficulties have you encountered linked to the differences in the way urban development and mobility issues are handled?

Since Switzerland is a federal state, our cultures, regulations and administrative organisations are very
different: my counterparts from the Canton of Geneva are the equivalent to French ministers! They have therefore many more powers, including that of amending the law, something that a President of a Community of Municipalities simply can’t do!
Mobility issues are a perfect example of these differences: on the French side, discussions involve 10 different organising authorities whereas the Canton of Geneva has a single structure.
As much energy is therefore needed to reach a consensus between the French partners as for the whole cross-border area. All this adds complexity but it also forces us to constantly innovate to push back the limits. Water management, air quality and the reflections on geothermal energy illustrate our capacity to mutually learn from each other’s strengths and successful experiments.

Civil society is involved in this crossborder project through the Greater Geneva’s Conurbation Forum. In practical terms, how does this dialogue between the municipalities and citizens operate?

In 2013, it appeared obvious that civil society should have its say in the establishment of the local association for cross-border cooperation (GLCT), the political body in charge of administering Greater Geneva. Today, the Conurbation Forum is fully integrated into Greater Geneva’s governance scheme.
Initially devised on the French “local development committee” model, the Forum is composed of 75 associations or organisations divided into three sections (environment, economy and social/culture).
The Forum works on issues of its own initiative (conurbation financing, carsharing, etc.) or on issues referred to it by the GLCT Assembly: the last referral concerned Greater Geneva’s energy and climate policy and requested Forum members to give their expert opinion on the cross-border dimension of the
action plan developed as part of the Climate Plan of the Canton of Geneva currently under preparation.
For us, elected representatives, the Forum is an opportunity to disseminate and share the cross-border ambition of our projects with local people.

Do you want to see how works this cross-border area? Join us in Greater Geneva whowill host for the first time the European Energy Transition Conference (30/01-01/02) on the following topic: « Cooperate in order to make a success of energy transition »"

©photo : CC genevois

by Béatrice Karas on 13 November 2017 / 1193 visits

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