Des territoires vivants pour transformer le monde. P. Caron, E. Valette, T. Wassenaar, G. Coppens d’Eeckenbrugge, V. Papazian, scientific eds. CIRAD, ADF. Editions Quae, 2017
"Des territoires ruraux vivants pour transformer le monde". Monday 27 February: 9:30 am to 1:00 pm
SIA, ParisExpo porte de Versailles
At a time when the ever-faster changes on our planet, particularly urbanization, are raising many issues, rural territories have come under renewed scrutiny, CIRAD is looking into the capacity of such territories to contribute, both locally and globally, to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.
Over the past thirty years, "territory" has become an unavoidable term, not only in the multitude of publications about the topic, but also within public action: territories are laboratories in which new types of governance are being invented and tested. They are a force for sustainable development, and should enable the emergence of alternative, multiple development models that run counter to the current dominance of a single model.
It is a geographical area within which there is "a set of social, economic, cultural and political processes that include systems of local or locally-involved players" (Vanier, 2009). However, given the diversity of situations, researchers also use other similar notions, such as that of landscape. Likewise, the way in which territories are studied varies, and a wide range of analyses may be conducted depending on the discipline concerned.
Territories are sometimes contained within political and administrative borders: those of local authorities (protected areas, irrigation schemes, forestry concessions, etc). Territorial boundaries may also correspond to the precise outlines of biophysical phenomena, such as catchment areas. They may also be associated with the lifestyle, or cultural identity of their inhabitants.
Territories may also have fuzzy, shifting edges, depending on the processes under consideration: sanitary management of production operations, control of invasive organisms, mastery of agro-ecological processes, stabilization of pioneer fronts within forests, waste recycling, etc.
They may be linked to migration or movements, for instance urbanization processes, which trigger exchanges between urban areas and the rural areas from which their inhabitants came.
Territories provide a framework for individual or collective social, technical, organizational and institutional innovation. The promotion of "terroir" or origin-linked products is a striking example.
Stakeholder networks and governance lie at the very heart of this capacity for innovation: access to land, work, production and exchanges fit into a local system of social relations and forms of power, the original combination of which may foster (or on the contrary hamper) cooperation, coordination and information dynamics. In return, innovations transform territories.
When faced with a problem to be solved or an opportunity to be seized, territories are frameworks for collective action within which communities of interest and of action take shape. In particular, they are an interface between institutional development projects and local initiatives.
Territories therefore now have a vital role to play in regulating industrial products such as palm oil and rubber, by paving the way for the necessary compromise between economic and commercial dynamics on the one hand and sustainable development issues on the other.
This will allow territories to prove their capacity to play an active role in reducing imbalances and tensions, by overcoming the inconsistencies between individual, collective and public initiatives.
Territories are therefore a prime area for applying new governance processes situated somewhere between collective action and public action, and at the interface between the State and markets (E. Ostrom, 2011).