Materials to ( re ) think the sustainable development and the other developments

by Pierre Gonod, Conseiller International

Wednesday 18 February 2004

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

Collection Bilan et Prospectives
- Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique
- Préface de Michel Sebillotte - 2003

The study of Pierre F. Gonod " Materials to ( re ) think the sustainable development and the other developments " includes two articulated parts: a reflection criticizes on the sustainable development (SD) and the other developments ( ODs), a praxéological essay on the set " Prospective-Projet-Politique ".

The author shows that the durable development is a necessary but insufficient condition for the development. It is the method which consists in formulating in concrete contexts concrete solutions, but it is not a model of development. The search for other developments contains the sustainable development, but they concern, besides, the questions of the democracy, the peace and the conflict, the women, the distance among the rich and the poor men.... In every case the central question is that of the social mastery of the development, and particularly the technology.
This leads to privilege the systematic approach, the interdisciplinarity and the political praxéology.

The author reports an international experience(experiment conceived as an operation system where the political will and the action can break the blind course of the development and give results.
He reviews various modellings, and the problems by disciplines, the preference going rather to different disciplinary models than one will get in touch.

His problematic of the SD and the OD ( s ) includes: the global governance, the underlying values in the changes, the relationship global -local, the spatial and times scales
The will to redraw the governance to drive the global transformations leads to a radical criticism of the concept of SD and to substitute to it that of the " reason of humanity ".
The relations global - local evolve of " to think globally, to act locally " "thinking and acting globally and locally ".
The spatial scales raise the problems of the levels of integration and the systematic description of the territory.
The steps of time are the object of glances from the point of view of the economist, the specialist of the SD, the environmentalist, the prospectiviste.
The different aspects of the modelling are completed by a praxéological enrichment, of new concepts which, in turn, fertilize the action.

P.F.Gonod proposes a political mechanism where the prospective is a necessary conceptual tool to the visions of the long term inherent to the SD and to the OD ( s ). The integration of the prospective in this mechanism asks the question " about what prospective is it? " And led to methodological renewals. This mechanism is based on feedbacks in the different stages of the process: prospective-projects-décision-action-valuation-control.
He tries, then, to put several elements of the problems redefined by the projects SD and OD s.
So the globalization was taken as concrete context which affects the activities, the territories and the powers. The intelligence of the globalization leads to identify its degrees, and the resultant concrete situations. The criteria are the extensivity of the phenomenon, its intensity and its swiftness, its impact, who can be high or low. One has so a method to describe the globalization and avoid the simplicity and the hyperglobalism.
The contemporary globalization is full of theseinterconnected. The result is a big complexity. To advance in its understanding, it is necessary to identify the current processes.
Leaving these, one can discern the problems and the relative challenges. One ends in representations of the challenges and global problems. By growing more before the disintegration of these one opens "yards" which give place to concrete propositions.
But the interrogation remains " how to manage the global phenomena to the various spatial levels? ". A vision of the governance gets free with its principles.

The regulation of the global phenomena is presented according to a new approach, that of networks of global questions to create a new type of public space.
The joints global - local remain there inescapable. To try to advance, a spatial scale was drawn up which connects problems, requirements of the OD ( s ) and allowable conditions. The interdependences of the relations between the problems were examined.
The debates around the SD, the AD ( s ) and the alternative in the globalization, incited to incorporate reflections of geopolitical ideas - forces. These were considered as hypotheses for XXI-th century.
These hypotheses depend on a driving force: the values which give sense to the ideas, the actions, the community and the individuals. Values in adequacy with the SD and OD ( s ) were proposed and put in accordance with the " situation of state and the current processes ".
These successive stages define a praxéological diagram of AD ( s ), an intellectual mechanism and way of making.
The inclusion of the values, which are the aims of AD’s ( s ) "system - objective", raises the question of their constitution and connections between lived and chosen aims. It is the lived of the globalization by millions of citizens that drives the search for the other aims and alternate projects.
" The alternative globalization " don’t appears from the nothingness nor from the dream of a prophet. It appears from the situation of state and the current processes. The problems are such as they call conceptual tools for another type of development. The assemblings protesters ended in the conclusion that another world is possible. Their objective is now to have a capacity of transformation in an alternative. But for it, the social movement needs theoretical contributions;
It follows that " To think globally and to act locally and globally ", require a new mode to think and to act. It is necessary, notably, to surmount the dilemma globalism-incrementalism. The moot question of the utopias is revalued in the current context as re-enchantment of the politics and mediation with wished future. Them prospective is then inserted into the new political praxéology sketched.
This political praxeology leaves to a historic constat: the collapse of predetermined projects, such the Soviet communism, incites " to make politics otherwise ", to auto-constructed projects, to be near, in the listening of the citizens. It is so necessary to associate these to the elaboration of the long-term visions. But one knows that the long-term vision is acceptable by the population only if it is translated by immediate satisfactions, if something changes. Spontaneously it is not the long term which is privileged in a democratic society, contrary to the totalitarianism. Where from a contradiction to be surmounted. The feedback long term - short term, the seizure of the good immediate link which allows to pull the chain towards the future are major political challenges. Concretely arises the dialectic of the immediate actions, the program and the long-term project. This last one can be the crossing of a vision of the future and the construction of the road "by walking".

In the essay of P.F. Gonod the "mode of thought" operates the set. It refers to a problem (complexity, uncertainties), in an intellectual system (concepts, methods, tools) the praxeology (methodology of action, collective learning). The anticipation is made by a set of hypotheses on the processes (ineliminable and eliminable, maintained, modified, reversible, eliminated, new processes). The temporalisation (the immediate, the short and long terms, the visions and the projects, the political times, their durations, the speeds, delay) drives to temporal roads, and to so many prospective configurations, anticipation results in successive structures.
From 1994, the author had formulated a general hypothesis of systemic prospective within the framework of the philosophy of the " complex thought ". The critical analysis of the existing methodology led the author of this study to a reflection which was connected with that of the "fuzzy set" logic and with the formulation of the hypothesis of the coexistence within the same social formation of coherence and incoherence, order and chaos. The "scenarios" did and - continue do the partition between "black" and"pink"scenarios (who can have a certain utility to arouse fears and hopes), but which do not correspond to the real movement of the society. It is to be better in adequacy with it that was proposed the category of "configuration". This hypothesis was tested by prospective exercises, notably within the National Institute of the Agronomic Research in France.

The " way to make " refers in prospective participative (collective intelligence, acquisition of a cultural language), the praxéology (methodology of the action, collective learning). Of the collective representation, one passes in the critical analysis of the current processes, in the successive formulations of what one wants and can change, in projects which draw new configurations for the future. The participation citizen goes on by the influence on the decisions, the evaluation and the control. One puts so an organized mechanism of "continuous
Prospective" where there is no occasional prospectivefever, but a permanent mechanism.

P.F. Gonod proceeded to an conceptual and methodological adaptation of the prospective for ODs, because the requirments to be taken into account are: the understanding of the complexity of the present; the construction of the project stemming from the analysis criticize of the present and current processes; the reflection and the action on the global and thelocal; The prospective approach " on the base " and the commitment citizen. This renewal introduces the stage of the " prospective configuration " based on an analysis citizen of the current processes and allows, better than the scenarios, to show the modifications of structure, and the social reality made of contradictions, order and chaos. He ends this essay by reflections on the creativity in prospective, the science fiction and to think the unthinkable, the weak signals and the debate citizen.