Abstract : Sustainable Development (SD) represents a new reference for planning policies. It has become a central principle in french legislation for town and country planning. The emergence of sustainable development, from its institutionalisation to its appearance in public opinions, has created a new area of debate between planning and environment.
We shall see how SD, taken as a priority of State-Region planning contracts (Contrats de Plan Etat Région -CPER-, multi-year regional development programmes jointly financed by national and regional authorities), changes the practices of regional planning : how it affects the conception of regional development programs and modifies their workings. Through looking at the planning process we wanted to check that the “questions” of SD are adapted to a regional level, by renewing the conceptions of regional future and by producing specific territorial designs of the SD.
Since the birth of national planning policies, the regional level has always been the favored arena for the initiation and implementation of these policies. The idea and the reality of the “Region” as a distinct public body, established over a thirty year period (1956-1986), symbolises the principal aspects of the modernisation of french territorial organisation. Over four generations, the CPER have become essential tools for regional planning and represent a “ team work approach”.
The preparation of the CPER 2000-2006, together with regional programs financed by Europe (SPD - Single Programming Document, in french, called DOCUP), provides a good ground study to show how SD could be applied on a regional scale, mainly thanks to the development of evaluation systems. At the same time it represents a valuable period for observing the consequences of adopting the new objective of sustainability on the functioning of regional planning.
To start, the first part of the thesis is an attempt to clarify the origins and the main issues of SD, in order to then approach the specific problems of its spatialisation. Following is a definition of the principal characteristics of regional planning, particulary the way it is linked to CPER.
The second part analyses the contractualisation process of regional planning programmes (CPER & SPD) between 1998 and 2000. Initially at a national level, and then more precisely in two regional cases of SD involvement : Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Midi-Pyrenees.
The last part underlines the principal lessons learnt from this research, in particular when discussed in a European context.