Although Jacques Chirac has made of Sustainable Development one of his International political priorities since the 2002 Johannesburg summit, it seems as if France’s administration finds it difficult to adapt to the goals it has set for the French society in overall in terms of Sustainable Development. This clearly underlines a regrettable contrast between the political action undertaken and the behavior of the French State.
On one hand, the French government has indeed been politically proactive since 2002 in order to encourage sustainable development, being the first ever country to introduce this notion in its constitution. It also recently adopted a series of legal measures compelling all French listed company to introduce sustainable development information in their annual reports; moreover, more than a hundred measures have been voted by the parliament for the 2003-2008 period concerning emission quotas, fiscal encouragement for the use of renewable energies, biodiversity, the recycling of computer, vehicles and house equipment …and the list is not exhaustive.
But on the other hand, on an interview given to French economic news paper LES ECHOS on the 31st of May 2006, French government delegate for Sustainable Development Christian Brodhag made a clear statement of how far was the country’s administration had gone concerning SD. According to him, “there is still a lot to do as far as the mentalities are concerned”; therefore, he has launched a program named “state exemplarity for sustainable development”, and has placed a person especially in charge of SD in each Ministry; Help guides have been released for all the staff in charge of dealing with suppliers in order to inform them on the benefits of energy-saver, long durable goods , but he acknowledges that “the cheaper the better” solution is still too often chosen. People in charge namely forecast they supplies within tight annual budgetary lines, and not on the long term. That is why most of the local administrations have hardly bought any electrical vehicles, but are regarding towards traditional low petrol/diesel consumption ones, which are cheaper to use on a daily basis (no further infrastructures needed to recharge the batteries for example) whereas the administration had promised to switch to all electrical vehicles by the first decade of the century.
Christian Brodharg has now been given full support from Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin to implement these measures as soon as possible, but it will only concern the national administration, bearing in mind France is functioning more and more on a politically decentralized base concerning local decisions; Mr Brodharg aim is to follow the Dutch way in terms of state behavior towards sustainable development; indeed, the Dutch government has recently compelled its administration to have a “100% responsible buy” politic, and this as soon as possible.
It clearly looks as if there is still a long way to go for the French Administration before reaching the sustainable development excellence that its President is aiming at…
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