The city of Rennes was named France’s top sustainable city in the last issue of the monthly publication Terra Eco. The following is an interview with David Solon, the magazine’s editor-in-chief and co-founder.
On February 28th, 2014 the eco-conscious publication Terra Eco released a ranking of sustainable cities. Judged according to 20 pre-established criteria, 30 French cities were passed under the microscope to establish the list. Rennes secured the top position through obtaining first place in the “public transportation,” “organizations,” and “unemployment rate” categories. Despite all of this, there is still progress to be made: Rennes was ranked 18th in terms of emergency shelters and air quality, and 22nd for water quality and cultural facilities.
According to you, what is the definition of a quality sustainable city?
David Solon: A “sustainable city” is not only a city where you can find green spaces and pedestrian walkways. It is an area where daily life is desirable. It is a place that is accessible, where you can find work, where people live in solidarity, where nature does not exist in a bubble for a select few, and where you can get around.
How did you gather the data for your different criteria?
D.S: We did it by hand, by visiting in person, category by category, city by city. Unfortunately, not all areas have realized that having access to this data should be a priority. Every citizen should be able, if he wants, to gain access to figures about unemployment rates, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, etc. Yet, cities often ignore this information which is rarely accessible in France except for certain cities like Nantes, Bordeaux, or Strasbourg for example.
Did Rennes’ first place position surprise you? Did you have an idea about the winners before gathering your data?
D.S: We at least knew which cities would not be among the winners. The presence of Rennes did not surprise us either. It is an area of medium size that has taken a lot of measures towards sustainability so the first place ranking is therefore logical.
Should factors such as unemployment rates and cultural offerings be considered when assessing the sustainability of a city?
Original article, originally published in French, here.
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.