The Île-de France : a Resilient Bioregion by 2050?

Seminar by Agnès Sinaï, Benoît Thévard, Mireille Ferri and Pierre Serne, March 24th, 2017

Fossile fuels – which is the energy source characteristic of the Industrial Revolution – have significantly altered landscapes. The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman speaks of the “liquefaction” of territories, in which cities and countryside intermingle in undifferentiated areas. Material flows have taken over spaces that are administered by a “free-floating” sovereignty, faced with an unsure global society and the emergence of systemic risks. We have come to a form of modernity that is “liquid”, in which systems that are different in their nature and temporality collide: the Earth-system and the human systems. What happens if we apply this reasoning to the Île-de-France? The discovery of oil has enabled the expansion of cities, which have thereby turned into megacities. According to Ugo Bardi, these gigantic “cités” are dependent upon a global transportation system of goods – itself dependent on cheap fuel – for their supply.

We will not be arguing in favor of rolling back to the medieval world, sailing ships and horse-drawn chariots, but we do believe that we have to be prepared to limit the distance and speed of transportation. We will have to come back to simpler and more compact cities and structures.

Another characteristic of megacities is entropy. Although it has been given many different definitions, we will here define entropy as an indicator of the unavailable energy in a thermodynamic system, at a given moment of its evolution. We can burn a piece of coal, but we will not be able to recover the combustion heat once it has evaporated into the atmosphere. When we dissipate energy, we make the latter unavailable and create entropy.

The concept of entropy characterizes the dissipative phenomena which takes place in the Île-de-France. The quantity of dissipated energy has continuously increased as we have evolved as a specie. Similarly to all animals, we are preoccupied with feeding ourselves, but this is far from being all that concerns us. We need energy for heating, lighting and to move around. Our economic system generates more dissipated energy than has been generated by any other system or living being. The region of Île-de-France is an example of such a system. Degrowth is a component of thermodynamic processes, to persuade oneself of the latter claim one simply has to take the laws of physics seriously: all energetic systems generate entropy, a certain quantity of energy is inevitably lost, thereby leading to chaos. Global warming, which is the consequence of chaotically dissipated energy due to the intensive combustion of fossil fuel, confirms this. By following the footsteps of the degrowth economist Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen we aim to show that thermodynamics are inseparable from all human organizations, including the economy.

The Anthropocene: temporal framework of the Great Acceleration

Starting with the Trente Glorieuses (the thirty glorious), greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, waste and massive extractions have risen simultaneously to and in the same proportion as growth rates. Indeed, as showed by the Anthropocene dashboard, from the 1950s onwards, all the indicators of the degradation of ecosystems have risen, concurrently with the increase in energy and material consumption. This neologism Anthropocene, made up by the geochemist Paul Crutzen at the beginning of the 2000s, creates a gap in our ‘continuist’ vision. He suggests that, due to the extent of the acceleration and transformation of the Earth caused by our industrial societies, we have now entered a different geological epoch. Climatic conditions are no longer entirely natural. Never before have the elements known such rapid transformation. The energy humans were able to extract from coal, petroleum and uranium enabled Homo faber to have an increased power of exploitation and destruction on nature.

Whereas the interglacial epoch of the Holocene was characterized by a remarkable stability of natural and technical conditions, the epoch of the Anthropocene is marked by the modification of the biogeochemical cycles, machinism and productivism, which are both dependent upon the energy extracted from fossil fuels.

Understanding this break in history demands that we come up with a new vocabulary and a new focal point. The life circumstances on Earth (which is 4,5 billion years old) have, in less than 200 years, been altered at a speed never seen before. We have decided to use the Great Acceleration as context to our study, rather than the stable conditions characteristic of the Holocene. Indeed, we believe the region of Île-de-France to be particularly emblematic of the former (the Great Acceleration).

The current issue: the “peak car” and the limits of the Île-de-France region

Car mobility is at an all-time low in the Île-de-France since when it was first invented. According to the IAU, which puts forth the “peak car” hypothesis this is a “heavy” trend (1). Indeed, the fall in car mobility is noticeable in most OECD countries, including the United States, and partly explained by generational differences. Yet, the Île-de-France is one of the most traffic-clogged cities worldwide and has to deal with all the associated externalities. The “peak car” is the result of a combination of factors, including but not limited to the increasing price of fuel, to which are added demographic, generational and behavioral causes. The present context, thus, seems favorable to the emergence of a new culture based on decreasing energy consumption.

Creative energy descent – characteristic of permaculture as conceptualized and introduced by David Holmgren – is exemplified by the end of hyper-mobility and a return to walking, horse-drawn streetcars, bikes and cargo-bikes, as well as bike-friendly highways and electric public transports. The town of San Buenaventura in California, put forward a scenario in which bituminous areas (parking lots etc.) are progressively transformed into common spaces dedicated to soil remediation and proximity market gardening. We would like to substitute the Île-de-France with a set of bioregions interconnected by walking and biking trails as well as bike-friendly highways.


The bioregion: an antidote to liquefaction?

Is it possible to make a move from the metropolitan “liquefaction” we previously talked about, to social organizations built to the human scale, in the terms of Kirkpatrick Sale, vocal supporter of secession and localism? According to him, the larger the State the smaller the probability of good government. Because the territories and systems are too large the entropy phenomenon is exacerbated. Thus, we would like to argue that the bioregions are the antidotes to territorial entropy.

The territory of the bioregion is not delimited by political frontiers but by geographical limits, which take into account both human communities and ecosystems. “Bioregion” is defined for the first time in the article “Reinhabiting California” written by Peter Berg and Raymond Dasmann and published in 1977 in The Eccologist. The bioregion of Cascada, which comprises the States West of Canada and the United-States, from Alaska to the North of San-Francisco, is the first bioregion to ever have been established.

Originally the term bioregion privileged an ecological stance, similarly to Kirkpatrick Sale (1985) which considers bioregionalism, in its most profound meaning, as a “region under nature’s control”. Peter Berg (1978) puts forth the idea of “creating “social units” in which the inhabitants of the bioregion will be able to understand and control the decisions that affect their lives”. These spaces are to be characterized by a reciprocal relationship between human beings and nature. A more socio-ecological and municipal vision of the bioregion was favored by Murray Bookchin.

The bioregion invokes a long-term process of co-evolution with the surrounding environment, within territories which are also living beings: an equilibrium of co-evolution between urban settlements and the surrounding environment, territorial equity between cities and the. Our civilization is the first to have disrupted this co-evolutive process. The organization cycle is now processed between human beings and their machines. Urbanization exerts a kind of global domination on territories, to the point where Alberto Magnaghi (the Italian urban-planner) argues that bioregions should emerge from cities. The aim is to conceive of and devise the local conditions based on which a population may live within the territory and think of the latter, societies and the previous conditions as plants whose acclimation we need to encourage.

The bioregion is not an administrative unit, it reorganizes a whole set of relations (such as between valleys and watersheds). The goal of the bioregion is to construct the co-evolutive complexity of urban systems in complete opposition to centralized and hierarchical structures. According to Magnaghi the “urban bioregion” is the appropriate concept to use in order to be able to deal with the economical (local territorial systems), political (self-government), environmental (territorial ecosystems) domains of the ‘milieu’. The urban bioregion is a local territorial system, similar in size to a district, and whose territorial delimitations concord with a hydrographic basin and/or an urban region. Its characteristics both in terms of identity and landscape are defined by hydro-geomorphologic systems and diverse landscapes, relations between plains, upland valleys, orographic knots (topography) and river valleys.


Co-evolution and self-sustainability guidelines

By dealing with the bioregion from a territorialist perspective we are inevitably making a reference to the ecological geography studies carried out by de Vidal de la Blache and to the Regional Planning Association of America’s experiences. They advocate for the co-evolution of hydrographic basin’s characteristics and specific cultures and lifestyles. They partly draw their inspiration from Lewis Mumford’s “region of human community”. Bioregionalism puts forward a different definition of territorial organization (for human beings’ and the biosphere’s well-being) based on self-determination and self-sustainability, aimed at developing an autonomous and interconnected system made up of human settlements and the surrounding environment.

Alberto Magnaghi: “The urban bioregion is made up of a multiplicity of localized territorial systems, which are organized in clusters of small or medium towns and have found an ecological, social and productive equilibrium with the territory. So defined and organized it can be as vast and powerful as a metropolis. The urban bioregion can even be said to be more powerful than the metropolitan centre-periphery system because by “giving value to and extracting value out of its peripheral knots” it produces more sustainable wealth. It also avoids clogging and pollutions. The urban bioregion decreases imports by reducing the costs of energy and environmental emergencies, by reducing unnecessary traveling and by creating local environmental equilibriums”.

We will be using the bioregion, first, as an interpretative instrument to face and deal with the environmental degradation associated with diffuse urbanization, which implies increasing energy consumption due to its massive ecological footprint and the “dissolution of the concept of “cities” in highly dissipative structures”.

Our aim is to rehabilitate the guidelines of “vitruvienne” architecture, meaning equilibrium within and self-reproductibility of human settlements. These guidelines consist of a set of rules restricting and determining the right balance for human settlements, rules referring to the localisation and adjusted dimension of the urban metabolism, and to the deceleration of mobility, production and consumption.


Conceiving of the metropolis as a metabolism: a design for the Île-de-France region

Vital processes depend on solar energy flows. According to Howard T. Odum (1924-2002), an american ecologist, these flows travel through the ecosystems and individual organisms. Starting in the 70s, Odum used diagrams to symbolize the energetic events at play in a complex system: sampling, loss, amplification, recycling, transfers, feedback, coupling are all events at work within ecosystems. In these diagrams, natural and artificial or social processes intersect. Indeed, according to Odum, there is no crucial difference between social and natural events: “Both old and new systems have been encompassed into a global network which includes factories and towns, reefs and meadows as well as the flows that connect them” (2). Odum’s approach is representative of a design encompassing human and natural systems. His systemic approach is a form of holistic thinking in which details are phased out so as to focus on a vision of the whole and its parts, interlinked by dynamic systems.

We argue that the Earth is progressively going to de-urbanize as, due to changes in terms of the economic and energy conditions, we are going to progress further into energy descent. Consequently, we will no longer be able to sustain the spread of urban areas in conditions similar to what they are like today, therefore, urbanization will have to be stopped. The necessity we will be faced with to recreate links with the local will imply that we re-contextualize the urban and suburban within the readily-available resources, notably hydraulic and energy. Yet, today, urban planning is carried out based on the “civilization of the machine”’s de-contextualized and functional rules, according to which the territory is considered as a medium for technique. By opposition, the bioregion aims at closing local environmental cycles, favoring local production and the creation of a local economy and ecologically-productive institutions. At the heart of the bioregion are open agro-forestry systems, exemplifying systems in which bio-functionalities are mixed. We could, for example, develop forest gardens in the Île-de-France.


Remediation strategies

Today, feeding the Île-de-France’s 11 million population requires 3 million hectares of arable land, which corresponds to six times more than the Île-de-France’s utilized agricultural land. Therefore, urbanization questions the sustainability of the food system.


The two main focal points of the bioregional project in Île-de France

1) Local productive systems: creating and developing activities aimed at serving the bioregion’s life cycle, thereby decreasing external dependencies and the energy environmental footprint; local energy generation; local food supply chains; water and waste services; ecological construction, i.e., supply of local and ecological construction material. In accordance with the bioregional approach, the production of goods and the quantity in which they are produced has to be determined with regards to the environmental and territorial resources available. Bioregional energy mix, bioclimatic cities, short supply chains. Suburban agricultural belts, de-compartmentalized functionalities and spaces.

2) Territorial eco-networks: Refurbishing secondary rail lines and stations, historical itineraries and trails, transportation structures: for example, the aqueducts in the Île-de-France could be made into footpaths. We need to rethink and rework the rivers, the canals, the infrastructures supporting rail, road and soft mobility according to the infrastructural corridors’ multi-functionality criterion. This criterion enables us to take into account, in an integrated manner, accessibility, the intersection of rapid and soft mobility flows; river systems in particular will become multi-sectoral transportation systems, creating connections both within and between the polycentric towns as well as between the regional environmental system’s bearing structures. We will create multiple networks of towns and villages interconnected by soft mobility. Thanks to these networks we will be able to consider mobility without cars. This infrastructural mutation is a precondition to moving past car mobility. This mutation will involve the rehabilitation of secondary railways and countryside railroads.

1.Institut d’aménagement et d’urbanisme d’Ile-de-France (IAU), Le Peak Car est-il derrière nous ?, note d’avril 2013.

2.Odum H-T., « Biological Circuits and the Marine Systems of Texas », in Olson T.-A . et Burgess F.-J. (eds.), 1967, Pollution and Marine Ecology, New York, Interscience, 1967, p. 99-157. Cité par Jean-Paul Deléage, Histoire de l’écologie. Une science de l’homme et de la nature, La Découverte, Paris, 1991, p.138. Nous nous inspirons de cet ouvrage pour décrire les origines de la pensée de Odum.

The bioregion: the lever of resilience in the Île-de-France

When speaking of disruptions, chocks, or collapses resilience naturally comes into mind. Yet, this concept seems inapplicable to one particular territorial scale, the megalopolis, because of the magnitude of the challenges to be faced. Paris, capital and world city, is situated at the heart of the Île-de-France. Paris, which accounts for only 6% of the Île-de-France territory, accounts for 10% of the population of France.

We will first define the concepts of resilience and vulnerability, to then focus on how the latter can be applied to this atypical territory. Finally, we will try to see whether a bioregional strategy may help improve the current circumstances.



‘Resilience’ has been given many different definitions, but two different visions may be distinguished. With regards to technical systems or networks resilience refers to the capacity of these latter systems and networks to keep providing the same services despite chocks or substantial disruptions. With regards to socio-ecological systems or ecosystems resilience refers to the capacity of such systems to adapt or reorganize so as to preserve their core identity, structure and functions, when faced with disruptions. In the first instance the aim is to preserve the original system whereas in the second instance the system’s capacity to transform is key. By opposition to ‘resilience’, vulnerability may be defined as the incapacity of the systems previously defined, to face and deal with disruptions (1).

As part of the project for Forum Vies Mobiles 2 (2), we will be working on the Île-de-France as an administrative unit, on the socio-ecological systems of which it is made up and on the systemic implications of radically transforming mobility. The third of the area of the Île-de-France being characterized by substantial urbanization and population density reaching 30 000 inhab./km2 in some parts of the region it makes more sense for us to be using the more specific concept of ‘urban resilience’. Urban resilience refers to the capacity of an urban system – including its socio-ecological components as well as its socio-technical networks, of all spatial and time scales – to preserve or recover its core functions, to adapt to change(s), and to alter the systems which are limiting its current and future adaptive capacity, when faced with disruptions (3).


Finding a balance between efficiency and resilience

Despite ‘resilience”s obvious qualities, we do not believe that enhancing resilience is an absolute and perpetual goal. The long-term preservation of conditions able to sustain human life in these territories, despite chocks and disruptions, is, in our opinion, the fundamental objective. According to the American ecologist Robert Ulanowicz (4), the sustainability of ecosystems and complex networks is the result of a balance between efficiency and resilience – efficiency being defined as the system’s capacity to deal with a certain quantity of material, information or energy. The better the capacity of a system to deal with such flows the more efficient it is. Yet, due to the constant increase in population density dictated by megalopolises, flows of people as well as produced and consumed resources are constantly on the rise, within an area whose size does not change. The optimization level so reached leads to a vital dependence upon a small diversity of actors and, therefore, to an increasing vulnerability.


Resilience and vulnerability of the megalopolis

Urban areas are endowed with great adaptive and innovative capacity. This is the main factor promoting resilience in the megalopolis. Networks created by the inhabitants of a same territory are the drivers of perpetual innovation. They initiate radical or progressive change in the means of production, practices and ideas. Yet, according to Ernston et al. (5) – which take over the work of Bettencourt et al. on urban dynamics (6) – innovation (measured by the number of patents registered, employees in the research sector etc.) develops faster than the pace at which cities grow. Nevertheless, innovation needs to be canalized and oriented towards a more ‘righteous path’ so as to not be an aggravating factor.

This positive side to the megalopolis enables the latter to attenuate its vulnerability but is not sufficient in regards to its inescapable weaknesses. Cities have always been conceived of and considered as protective and safe spaces. Today, the accumulation of populations and activities, the increasing complexity of technical networks, the need for constant and massive flows of energy and vital resources (such as water and food), as well as the pressure exerted on the natural environment, are all contributing factors that increase the vulnerability of these atypical urban areas.

Figure 1: Control held by road infrastructures, Phénix, Arizona.

Photo: Alex Maclean


Whatever the risks a system faces it will evolve into a disaster only if the system is vulnerable. Risks may be divided into three categories:

-natural: volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, etc.

-socio-natural: human activities increase the probability of occurrence of natural catastrophes (eg: artificialization of the soil prevents water absorption and, therefore, increases the probability of flooding in the event of heavy rainfall).

-human-induced: conflicts, financial crisis, etc.

Yet, we are not all facing the same anticipated level of hazards. According to Sébastien Maire, Haut Responsable à la Résilience (Chief Resilience Officer) for the city of Paris, the French capital-city is one of the most resilient cities out of the 100 towns part of the worldwide network 100RC (7). However, according to the Momentum Institute – which is mostly made up of catastrophists and collapsologists – the probability of systemic collapse is not insignificant and, therefore, the capacity of resilience of Paris and its surrounding region, in such a scenario, is less convincing. This observation is even more worrying when we take into account that within most capital cities are concentrated important, one might even say vital, political and economic functions, thereby substantially expanding the sphere of vulnerability.


Overall resilience in order to override the complexity of the megalopolis

In respect to the megalopolis, the complexity is such (interdependencies, interconnected networks and level of influences, local, regional, national and international etc.) that we cannot perfectly predict the risks to be faced, therefore, we have to accept working in relative uncertainty (8). Yet, one specific approach offers some clarification as regards the issues at play when dealing with complex systems. In 2009, Brian Walker – an ecologist previously Head of the International Resilience Alliance program – argued that a distinction should be made between specified resilience (what is to be resilient? and resilient to what chocks or disruptions?) and general resilience, which refers to the system as a whole and encompasses all types of chocks (9). Specified resilience, i.e., resilience to a unique and defined risk (flooding, earthquake, power failure etc.), is the most referenced type of resilience today (10). According to Walker, it is easier to plan ahead for a specific event because it implies reaching out to clearly defined actors and its implied costs which are more easily justifiable.

Unfortunately, Carlson and Doyle’s mathematical model highlighted the fact that the more robust a system in the face of specific hazards the more vulnerable it is in the face of uncommon events, unpredicted changes and design flaws. This is exemplified by the Fukushima disaster. Nuclear power plants are highly complex equipment, designed to be able to face a diversity of risks (which have a sufficient probability of occurring). Yet, as soon as a situation, which was not taken into account when probabilities were being calculated, arises the consequences are devastating. Therefore, according to Walker, it is better to work on general resilience by assessing whether, for example, the vital components are sufficiently diversified, the degree of openness to the outside world is balanced, there are enough supply in case critical needs are to be satisfied, the necessary delay for the system to detect the change-induced consequences and act on it is not too high and whether all the system’s components are able to self-organize so as to prevent the rapid spread of chocks throughout the system.

Another possibility is to use the vulnerability factors devised by the geographer Sylviane Tabarly for megalopolises (11). She divides the latter intro three categories: human (population distribution, habitat, networks), socio-economic and cultural, social political and governance. Using this matrix, we can qualitatively assess whether reorganizing the Île-de-France into bioregions genuinely improves the situation.


Resilience of the Île-de-France transportation system

The transportation system of the Île-de-France is a highly complex, interconnected network of roads and railroads as well as canals, navigable rivers and airways, which enable the transit of millions of people and tons of goods. It is the territory’s blood system. It is both essential and fragile at the same time, as its efficiency is being pushed to the extreme.


Figure 2: The Île-de-France road and highway network.

Source: www.ateliergrandparis.fr


Despite the existence of an electric rail system, oil products and agrofuels account for 96% of energy consumption for transportation in the Île-de-France (12). These oil products enable 16 million cars to move around as well as 250 000 air passengers and 400 000 tons of goods to be transported every day. This demands that almost 16 000 tons of oil equivalent (TOE) or 115 000 barrels be consumed every day. This oil goes through one and only pipe: the pipeline of Île-de-France which connects the latter directly to the port of Le Havre.

It is obvious to us that a bioregional scenario for the Île-de-France, which would set the objective to the disappearance of car and oil dependency (of which we import 99%) would enable the substantial reduction of populations’ vulnerability and the improvement of their living conditions.


1 J.F. Gleyze et M. Reghezza, La vulnérabilité structurelle comme outil de compréhension des mécanismes d’endommagement, Géocarrefour, vol.82/1-2, 2007

2 http://fr.forumviesmobiles.org/projet/2017/02/28/bioregion-ile-france-2050-3520

3 Sarah Meerow et al., Defining urban resilience: A review, Landscape and urban planning, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, 2016.

4 cité par B. Lietaer, De nouvelles monnaies pour de nouveaux liens, une solution systémique à la crise ?, Compte rendu de la conférence Philosophie et Management sprl, 10/2009. url : https://fr.scribd.com/document/31823193/Bernard-Lietaer-De-nouvelles-monnaies-pour-de-nouveaux-liens-une-solution-systemique-a-la-crise

5 Henrik Ernston et al., Urban Transitions : on urban resilience and human-dominated ecosystems, Royal Swedish Academy of science, 2010.

6 Bettencourt et al., Growth, innovation, scaling, and the pace of life in cities, Proceedings, of the National Academy of Sciences USA 104 (17), 7301-7306, url : http://www.pnas.org/content/104/17/7301.

7 http://www.100resilientcities.org/

8 Magali Reghezza, Géographes et gestionnaires face à la vulnérabilité métropolitaine. Quelques réflexions autour du cas francilien, Annales de géographie, Armand Colin, 2009/5, n°669, p114.

9 Brian Walker, Specified and General resilience, 2009, Url : http://wiki.resalliance.org/index.php/1.5_Specified_and_General_Resilience

10 Brian Walker, Frances Westley, Perspectives on Resilience to disasters across sectors and cultures, ResearchGate, Ecology and Society, Juin 2011, Url : https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265576361_Perspectives_on_Resilience_to_Disasters_across_Sectors_and_Cultures

11 Adaptation de Y. Veyret et B. Chocat, Les mégapoles face aux risques et aux catastrophes naturelles, Mégapoles et environnement, X-environnement.org, juin 2005. Url: http://geoconfluences.ens-lyon.fr/doc/transv/Risque/RisqueDoc6.htm

12 Arène Île de France, la facture énergétique francilienne, synthèse, juin 2015, p2.


Seminars have been given both at the Institut Momentum in march 24, 2017 and at the UMR Géographies Cités (Université Sorbonne) in January 19, 2017 on the basis of these texts, which summarize the findings of the study conducted for the Forum Vies Mobiles.

Co-authors of the study “L’ Île-de France : a resilient bioregion by 2050?” :

Agnès Sinaï is a journalist for Actu-environnement and the Monde Diplomatique. She co-wrote the documentary series on climate change Paradis perdus, shot in Sumatra and Tuvalu, which aired on Arte in 2006. She also co-wrote the Petit traité de la résilience locale (Charles Léopold Mayer, 2015), and supervises the publications of the Momentum Institute, which she founded: Penser la décroissance. Politiques de l’Anthropocène (Presses de Sciencs Po, 2013), Economie de l’après croissance. Politiques de l’Anthropocène II (Presses de Sciences Po 2015). Since 2010, she teaches Sciences Po student enrolled in the masters “Sciences et Politiques de l’Environnement” about the Anthropocene and degrowth. She also published Walter Benjamin face à la tempête du progrès (Le Passager clandestin, 2016).

Benoît Thévard is and independent engineer and is, as a citizen, engaged in the energy and environmental transition. He is the author of two studies conducted for the Green-Group in the European Parliament in 2012 (L’Europe face au pic pétrolier) and 2014 (Vers des territoires résilients en 2030). He also co-wrote a book to be published in 2017 (Cosmografia editions), a scenario for a 100% renewable energy in the Centre-Val de Loire region with the Institut NégaWat (2017), and conducted two energy studies, one in Québec and one in Reunion Island. He is the founder of a citizen initiative working towards transition in Châteauneuf-sur-Loire and the president of an association called LocauxMotiv’, thanks to which a complementary local currency has been created and disseminated throughout the territory in which it is established. Finally, he initiated and co-coordinated a project aimed at creating a transition house in his town, which would host a community café, a zero-waste grocery-store, a co-working space and numerous cultural and associative activities.


Other contributors:

Mireille Ferri is a teacher and is currently director of the Atelier International du Grand Paris. From 2013 to 2016 she was an associate professor at the Institut de Géographie de l’Université de la Sorbonne. She also was invited to give courses in diverse universities, including in a university of Abu Dhabi, on “sustainable development” and how it can be applied in the field of urban planning. She was vice-president of the Conseil Régional d’Île-de-France, which is in charge of territory management, from 2010 to 2014. Being the vice-president she was able (re)orient and support the Schéma Directeur pour l’Île-de-France (SDRIF), no longer led by the State but by territorial collectivities. Mireille Ferri has made resilience the heart of the SDRIF, which orients regional planning in the Île-de-France.

Pierre Serne is a territorial administrator, former student of the Ecole normale supérieure (Ulm), agrégé in history and a social and political science graduate. He is a city councilor in Vincennes (94) since 2001 and a regional councilor in Île-de-France since 2010. From January 2012 to December 2015 he was vice-president in charge of transports and mobility as well as vice-president of the STIF (Société des Transports d’Île-de-France). He is now administrator of the STIF. In September 2014 he was elected president of the Club des villes et territoires cyclables. Since July 2015 he is also administrator of the SNCF network. Pierre Serne was also in charge of the Master 2 Métiers du Politique et de la Gouvernance at the Faculté de Science Sociales et Economiques de l’Institut Catholique de Paris, from 2009 and 2011. He now teaches at the Ecole Nationale des Ponts de Chaussées for the students of the master férroviaire. He wrote multiple books on the political history of France. He is administrator of the Fondation Danielle Mitterrand France Libertés and member of the Comité de l’International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).