Interview with Ms. Virginie Pfanner, Responsible for the Regional Council for Environment, Sustainable Development and Energy, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (France)
nrg4SD: In a centralized country like France, specific state guidelines (“les bilans”) can contribute to the implementation of global agendas in the territories. On the need for French territories to prepare a report on the situation of sustainable development, how can this instrument contribute to a region’s response to the SDGs?
ARA: As answered in the report on the SDGs in the Region: there is a legal obligation to carry out a sustainable development report by the community, but no constraints on the form to be given to this report. State-driven guidelines on the format of this annual report concerning the SDGs could encourage communities to take these into account.
nrg4SD: Specifically, with regard to the thematic SDGs, your Region stands out in energy issues; can you comment on your STARTER EnR project and the promotion of renewable energies in the region?
ARA: The STARTER EnR helps to support renewable energy projects with two types of services: studies and support-advisory missions. The ambition of the mechanism is to mass and secure projects.
The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region financially supports renewable energy project holders in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region. The support proposed by STARTER EnR to project leaders is differentiated according to the amount of the mission:
- Reimbursable advance at zero rates for assignments of more than € 15,000, including taxes.
- Direct provision of service providers for study missions or consultancy support costing less than € 15,000, taxes included.
nrg4SD: Auvergne Rhône-Alpes have announced the adhesion the nrg4SD initiative on climate adaptation: the RegionsAdapt. What priority area will your government prioritize and why?
ARA: Beyond the set of policies contributing to adaptation to climate change, the two prioritized areas by the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes Region in its climate change adaptation strategy are the management of water resources and natural risks.
Natural risks are present in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes: more than 90% of communities are concerned by at least one type of risk. Due to its mountainous nature and the density of its hydrographic network, the region is particularly exposed. Nearly 70% of the territory is located in a mountain area and is therefore affected by gravity and valleys, occupied by rivers and water sources, and therefore highly exposed to flood risk. The impacts of climate change are significant on the frequency and intensity of natural hazards.
In a normative context, it is sometimes difficult for mayors to exercise all the responsibilities they are responsible for (i.e. risk prevention, crisis management or even reconstruction). The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region has nationally recognized risk management actors to support and help communities to better prevent, with a view to territorial resilience.
The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region is globally vulnerable to pressure on water resources. If the link between the impact of climate change and the availability of the resource is more critical in the southern and lowland areas, the basin heads remain exposed and their preservation is an issue to limit conflicts of use further downstream. The evolution of temperature, evapotranspiration and snow parameters are clear signs of a trend towards the scarcity of water resources. These manifest in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes by a decline in river flows and more intense, longer waterfalls, starting earlier in the year, and groundwater that recharges with more difficulty in winter. This deficit should ultimately affect all territories, even those whose resource is now considered abundant.
The pressure on a diminished and inferior resource leads to conflicts of use that may be more and more marked. The tension during the low-water period is likely to worsen strongly where it already exists and to appear on territories today in a situation of water comfort.
To better prepare for natural disasters, the Region aims to:
- Strengthen and structure a support system for training and support for elected officials / inter-municipal collaboration bodies (EPCIs) in implementing their natural risk management obligations;
- Support risk prevention by promoting observation and information-sharing mechanisms;
- Contribute to the reduction of vulnerability of people and heritage to activities in risky areas;
- Promote “at source” risk treatment by limiting soil sealing and promoting global runoff management for flood control;
- Support the deployment of innovative techniques regarding constructions adapted to flood risk, as an example;
- Support innovative protection operations, based on the mobilization of alternative techniques such as riverside planting techniques;
- Structuring regional intervention after a natural disaster: helping with reconstruction.
In line with the recommendations of the national plans for adaptation to the effects of climate change and basin plans, the objectives adopted are:
- Promote and support water savings: in the face of water scarcity, the priority is savings and the fight against waste, strategies for sharing, optimization and reuse.
- Preserve the potential of resources and environments to reserve room for the future, in particular with regard to strategic resources for the supply of water intended for human consumption; from this point of view, the issue of taking into account the availability of the resource in the development of SRADDET was essential.