The role of proximities in improving territorial governance release_b2fgebjzc5bs3np43pfg77syg4

by Lise Bourdeau-Lepage

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Reviewed: Torre, A. and Beuret, J.-E. 2012. Proximités territoriales. Construire la gouvernance des territoires, entre conventions, conflits et concertations, Paris: Economica-Anthropos. What can be done to improve territorial governance? André Torre and Jean-Eudes Beuret emphasise the role of proximity in this process, where conflict and negotiation are two sides of the same coin. This work, through its 105 pages, proposes the broad lines of a method for managing and coordinating territories using a proximity-based approach (Gilly and Torre 2000; Pecqueur and Zimmermann 2004). The key idea is relatively simple and can be stated as follows: territories are subject to major changes, most notably processes of suburbanisation and periurbanisation, which affect not only urban spaces but also natural spaces. These changes involve numerous stakeholders (businesses, householders, local authorities, associations, etc.), increasing the complexity of each situation. Consequently, the growing numbers of parties concerned, the demand for more participatory democracy, and the desire of citizens to participate more actively in public life are all factors which, according to André Torre and Jean-Eudes Beuret, call for a move from local government to local governance. Conflict and negotiation: twin aspects of territorial governance At the heart of the concept of territorial governance-understood here as a process for managing a given territory that involves local and outside stakeholders of various types-are two opposing but complementary and closely related elements: negotiation and conflict. This concept is particularly original because it considers conflict and negotiation as two sides of the same coin that is governance. Conflicts are seen not as an indicator of the failure of the governance process, but instead, on the contrary, as an essential part of the development process. This chimes with the idea developed by André Torre that conflicts are an important means of expression for local populations that must not be eradicated (Torre 2011). To support their argument, the authors propose a tour of France and indeed the rest of the world, revisiting the areas in which they have explored and implemented their approach over the last 10 years, during which the reader will encounter associations for the protection of the environment and the local area on the periurban fringes of Paris, inhabitants of shanty towns and residents of wealthy ghettos, and French oyster farmers whose livelihood is under threat from the gradual urbanisation of their harvesting areas. But all of these groups, however different, are faced with the same conundrum: how to live side by side and work together for the successful and harmonious development of the areas where they live, despite their differences and the fact that they often do 1
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