COMMUNIQUÉ - national survey -

The French want more nature in the city

The first criterion expected of the "cities of the future", ahead of pollution reduction and more mixed housing and work.

Smart city, resilient city, intelligent city, connected city ... the cities of tomorrow are at the heart of the major challenges of our time. There will be 75% of us living in urban areas in 2050, and these areas already account for two thirds of greenhouse gas emissions, and have become a public health issue, particularly through the social and health repercussions of urban air pollution.

While elected officials and professionals are busy developing new ideas and projects for this urban renewal, how do the main stakeholders, the inhabitants, define this "city of tomorrow"?

Among some fifteen criteria tested to qualify what would best represent for them the idea of the city of tomorrow, the French award the following podium: + nature, - pollution, + mixed use.

With 53% of the vote, " a city that puts nature back at the heart of the city "is clearly at the top of the list of criteria for the city of tomorrow expected by the French, followed by a city that does not pollute "for 42% of respondents and " a city that offers a good mix of economic and social life, work and housing "This is a total of 39%.

While the terms are widely used and taken up by elected officials and professionals to talk about this city of the future, the idea of " connected city "(22%), from " digital city "(14%) or a " high-tech city, at the cutting edge of technology and innovation "(14%) are at the bottom of the ranking, followed, beyond the top three, by an energy-efficient city "(36%) or " 100% renewable energy "(33%). In terms of self-sufficiency, it is interesting to note the equality between food and energy: " a city capable of producing foodstuffs, through market gardening or agricultural areas "(29%), and " a city that produces its own energy "(28%).

Beyond a technical and connected city, it is therefore the idea of a city to be lived in that emerges more from these priorities, reclassifying technologies and smart grids in the category of means rather than ends. In resonance with the strong return of plants in current architectural and urban planning projects (the "green" is omnipresent in current calls for projects and competitions, following the example of "Reinventing the Greater Paris Metropolis"; "eco-neighbourhoods" have developed extraordinarily over the past five years), biodiversity issues regularly appeal to public opinion, and books or broadcasts on nature or forests have been very popular. This felt and expressed need to reconnect with nature naturally affects the main area where people live: the city.

An expectation of a city-nature that is protective, soothing and nourishing is even more strongly expressed by women (56% versus 50% among men on this expectation of nature in the heart of the city), as is the idea of a city that produces foodstuffs through agricultural or market gardening areas (33% versus 24% among men) or " zero waste "(32% versus 23% for men). Men, on the other hand, are traditionally much more technophile, expressing a greater interest in the idea of " connected city "(26% versus 18% for women), from digital city "(19% vs 8%) or " high tech "(18% vs 9%). An interesting gender divide on these nature versus technology dimensions, but a consensus on the general principles of non-pollution, social mix, energy saving or renewable energy.

This trend in public opinion is corroborated by another indicator revealed by the study, which shows that 92% of French people believe that there is "no need for a change of policy". not enough nature in the city ". This opinion is all the stronger because it increased significantly between 2016 and 2017 (from 76% to 92%), and there are even 52% who "strongly agree" with this assertion (compared to 34% in 2016). As a corollary, 87% of those surveyed believe that 'the European Union is a good place to work'. cities are becoming increasingly polluted "(of which 47% strongly agree), and 82% consider that " the air in the city is becoming increasingly unbreathable "(versus 67% in 2016). These two feelings are even more clearly expressed by the women in the sample, who are clearly more sensitive to these issues.

To meet these challenges, the French are convinced of the importance of the role of cities (and therefore of elected officials). Indeed, 90% of them think that " cities have a major role to play in the fight against global warming and the energy transition "They also consider that local and regional authorities may have more power to act on these issues than national authorities. Moreover, they consider (at 68%) that local and regional authorities probably have greater power to act on these issues than national bodies and that for this to happen, cities must be more energy efficient (93%). In this context, the idea of reducing car traffic, a sensitive subject that challenges citizens' habits, also seems to be making progress in people's mindsets and opinions, as 77% in the study agree with this idea (+15% compared to 2016). Moreover, even if support is stronger among women, this perspective is also supported by the majority of men.

However, while the majority of French people certainly believe that "the tomorrow's cities will be more environmentally friendly Although the number of respondents who agree with the statement "strongly agree" is 72% and increasing (60% in 2016), this consensus is softer in the intensity of the response (19% "strongly agree" for 53% "somewhat agree"). Above all, only 46% are convinced that " the elected representatives are concerned about the living environment of the inhabitants "(including a low 8% of "completely agree"). This is a small warning signal that must be taken seriously if we are not to forget to place men and women at the heart of the cities of tomorrow. All the more so since today, a divide is also emerging in the study between 50% of the French who say they like living in cities and the other 50% who do not. In addition, there is a negative perception of the underlying dynamic because, despite the awareness that is currently being raised, only a minority of French people (42%) consider that " cities are becoming more liveable ". The reinvention of our urban ecosystems will have to respond to these challenges so that this need for human-nature reconnection serves the interests of both, nature and humans.

Alain Renaudin

Director and founder of NewCorp Conseil; founder of Biomim'expo

Contact: 01 53 53 67 67

Methodological note: NewCorp Conseil survey conducted online from 15 to 28 December 2017, among a representative national sample (quota method) of 1,000 people aged 18 and over. Alain Renaudin is former CEO of Ifop. NewCorp Conseil is a strategy and communication agency specialising in biomimicry and the promotion of research and innovation.

The Biomim'expo 2018 event (28 and 29 June - a major gathering on biomimicry) will focus on the theme "Habitat, Cities and Territories of Tomorrow" through the lens of bio-inspiration.

The press release in pdf

The report

More nature in the city