Carine Dartiguepeyrou: Accelerating the future


Publication date

May 29, 2017

Carine Dartiguepeyrou, a political scientist and foresight specialist, helps private and public institutions change their paradigms and come up with their visions of the future. Her latest book is entitled “Le futur est déjà là” (The future is already here). 
She also made a speech at Energy Cities’ Stuttgart conference entitled “What future for the ecological transition in an accelerating world?”.

We are living in an era of rapidity and instantaneity. What is the impact of this acceleration on public action? Can a local government keep this “dictatorship of urgency” at bay?

To my knowledge, no one has better explained this acceleration, so typical of our times, than the German philosopher and sociologist Hartmut Rosa. Information and communication technologies are key factors, but like all technologies, they both set us free and hold us in thrall. Today, speed is the standard, no matter what. But our perception of time is not uniform and differs according to people and their psychologies.

What I have tried to demonstrate is that studying the long-time scale, which, like many complex and intergenerational issues, is intrinsically linked to durability, requires linking different timeframes, i.e. the short, medium and long terms. Very often, however, we are either in an ungrounded, almost suspended long-time scale or focused on short-term, restless action, rather than contributing to a long-term vision. My message is quite simple and foresight can help here: the ecological transition requires both longterm visions and short-term actions. We must be able to think freely, by shaking off preconceived ideas and allowing time for sense-making, whilst being able to rapidly and efficiently take contingency measures to tackle any ecological dysfunctions.

The issue both applies to public and private actions. However, in my opinion, public action has to overcome an additional barrier, i.e. the fact that political alternation has to be factored in and that the conduct of policies needs to have a raison d’être that transcends partisanship. Local elected representatives depend on the public authorities to implement their policies. I think this is the real challenge for them. Finding support and engagement within central government authorities to relay and deploy their policies over the long term. Politicians need time to work and to set lengthy reforms in stone.

Initiatives aimed at developing a new cultural savoir-faire are all around us. Given this momentum, what should be the position of local governments willing to engage in the energy transition?

Local authorities wanting to engage in the energy transition need to adopt the “institutional WE”, i.e. the regulatory dimension. They must also show backbone to make up for national deficiencies by identifying and relying on those local players capable of bringing about change, but without using them for their own ends. Here, we face a new challenge, that of creating new forms of partnerships based on trust, mutual respect and some sort of soft power. Is it possible? I believe this is not utopian as long as people act responsibly and are not at the mercy of destructive dominations or balances of power, and as long as they use their rational, emotional and sensible intelligence to take action. This requires agreeing on an objective and acting with empathy for oneself and the community. It also involves the emergence and awareness of a “shared we” that provokes the desire to act collectively over the long term.

© photos : Jérôme Krumenacker – Energy Cities

by Béatrice Karas on 29 May 2017 / 1202 visits