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Environmental competitiveness

[ Summary ]


Chapter 3:
Reflecting on a strategy for improving environmental competitiveness


3.3 Creating a collective dynamic


The gradual process of consolidation described above can come up against many different problems and pitfalls. It is therefore necessary to exploit every opportunity to create a collective dynamic, in particular by:

  • focusing on the capacity for collective reaction to an external threat;
  • using anything likely to facilitate negotiation between the players by developing a common perception of problems/opportunities;
  • making use of available financial instruments;
  • seeking to create a snowball effect.

a) Focusing on the capacity for collective reaction

    The emergence of a threat to the local environment often triggers a “reactive” movement that can turn into a “proactive” movement to valorise the area if links are created between those pursuing a specific objective and the wider group of players primarily concerned about the quality of life and collective assets.


      The Waldviertel-Management local development agency stemmed from a protection movement that emerged in reaction to a national plan to install a nuclear waste dump in the area. As the Waldviertel area (Lower-Austria) had already experienced several decades of economic decline and heavy depopulation, the local players were shaken by this threat. They grouped together to form the Pro Waldviertel movement, which has since come to embody a new willingness to work together to restore the area’s quality of life and productive strengths. The movement’s merit is to have turned a temporary public protest into a lasting local development organisation that forms part of a network of public and private players.

b) Using anything likely to facilitate negotiation between the players

    Working on perceptions of the environment with the help of visual aids - such as maps of the area indicating problem points, opportunities and flows between the area and the outside world - can provide an opportunity for renegotiating with the players to effect changes in attitude.


      In France, collective and participatory initiatives to reappropriate the environmental heritage, where they are supported by the municipal and intermunicipal authorities, can be based on the “landscape chart” and the “territorial chart” developed by the Mairie-Conseil [7], a service organisation for the benefit of small local councils and the federation of regional nature reserves. Designed for local use, these charters are designed to secure a joint commitment from the parties concerned.

c) Making use of available financial instruments

    Available financial instruments, particularly those at the disposal of LEADER, can be a useful aid in seeking to trigger a collective dynamic or to unblock a situation.


      In the Vinschgau/Val Venosta region (Trento-Alto-Adige, Italy), the LEADER group was asked by hotelkeepers for a tourist cycle path to be developed in the valley. However, the project was opposed by farmers (who did not wish to meet up with cyclists on paths hitherto reserved for tractors) and aroused a certain amount of reluctance among elected representatives, who did not dare to go against the farmers’ wishes. However, the LEADER group finally secured the farmers’ agreement by bringing all of the players together to study a map and by emphasising the fact that in the past LEADER had financed the redevelopment of homes in the alpine pastures.

d) Seeking to create a snowball effect

    The multiple interactions between individual and collective players are giving rise to an invisible “shell” structure, within which a new collective capability for managing local resources is being forged.


      Following German unification, ten villages in the Seelow administrative district east of Brandeburg set out to relaunch the local economy. Backed by the Land authorities, which attributed to this project demonstration value for the entire Brandebourg region, the Wulkow local council opted for a “global ecological development” model, the central aim of which was job creation. In order to get this idea to spread fast, several coordinated initiatives were launched in parallel: renovation of the village, use of renewable energies (using biomass), wastewater treatment, diversification of agriculture into organic production and pisciculture, etc. All of these projects are linked into a network to associate the member associations, local councils and producers, coordinated by “Ecogrenier” (Ökospeicher), an association of a hundred or so volunteers working in liaison with other similar organisations throughout Europe. In this specific case, restructuring the villages went hand in hand with restructuring civil society.


[7] Mairie-Conseil,
44 rue de l’Université F-75006-Paris.

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