The sustainability challenge is far from being addressed in OECD countries. Although the French region PdL is no exception, various local initiatives are flourishing which suggest an opposition to the business-as-usual policy both and a desire to envision and engage collectively in alternative sustainable pathways – like the concrete utopia of Notre Dame des Landes.
This investigation adds onto two projects involving citizen participation: one lead by the region on “redefining wealth” and one sufficiency energetic scenario with the 2050 horizon designed by lay-citizen expertise.
Our study aims at exploring their limits by carrying an analysis based on the concept of societal metabolism –adding the biophysical perspective missing in the former and the integrated vision in the latter.
In a first step, we provide a descriptive analysis of the current metabolic pattern of the region providing a better understanding of today’s concrete reality and its predicament.
Then, we offer to assess and compare the citizen-led scenario with scenarios advocated by the public administrations. Our results highlight the variability of discourses, the risk of reductionism, and the pitfalls of scenarios that are failing to address both the questions of feasibility (external constraints on the supply and sink side) and of viability (internal constraints like human activity, land).
Building upon this analysis, we build and explore alternative pathways for the region, which involve grassroot initiatives, low tech and sufficiency behaviours, in line with the degrowth political project. A specific attention is given to the concrete challenges raised by regional economic relocalization.
This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Alternative pathways for the French region Pays de la Loire (PdL)“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.