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11B - Our communities as the main actors of the transition: a message of hope for young people

For his very first time at the world forum for a responsible economy ,Rob Hopkins author and founder of the Transition Movement made it clear : the role of communities is crucial in the transition movement.The activist took part in the opening plenary session to give an inspiring speech full of caring, hope and faith for the future. He shared his vision of today’s world and gave his secret to staying optimistic.

In this your first time at the world forum for a responsible economy, What does it mean for you being here in Lille, a European metropolis engaged in this transition and innovating new method of development ?


Rob Hopkins: France is a country with a real interest in transition. Lille is one of those cities that embraced the idea of being a « laboratory» where new projects can be tried out and experimented. That is why I am enthusiastic to be here.

You give conferences and masterclasses in universities. You also participate IN TedTalks and you have worked with Cyril Dion on his documentary « Demain ». You are very committed to the idea of sensibilisation. However, don’t you think that an important part of your public is already aware of global warning and wants to be involved in the transition process?Therefore, how could we sensibilise the others, all the individuals that ignore the great impact they can have?


R.H:  It is true that I am often invited by local transitional groups which are already involved in different projects, impacting different communities. But I don’t think that every single person attending my conferences is « sensibilised ».

I am very surprised by the increasing number of people coming to those events. People are showing a growing interest in the idea of transition. I think that the movie « Demain » also had a very positive impact on individuals that thought they did not have a role to play.

When it first came out, I went to the premiere in Paris and different streamings afterwards. I was really impressed by the diversity of the audience. Once, a group of young people in their early twenties came to me and explained that after the terrorist attack in the Bataclan, they had lost sense of their story. « Demain » gave them hope and showed them what life they could aspire to.


What message do you want to deliver to the people who want to be part of the transition? What concrete gestures can we do on a daily basis to have a positive impact on our communities ?  


R.H: If we look at the student level, really active movements working on the transition exist. They organize concrete action with different actors from the community and provide us with tools to achieve the transition. If your dream is to work for a better future, you will find other people to work with you and achieve this commun dream. In my early twenties, I started to be really passionate about the transition and environmental issues. I did my permaculture degree and since then it’s been my life. It is not a path to great riches but it is really satisfying and I will never feel guilty when I look at my kids in the morning.


You gave us numerous examples of successful individual actions during your speech. And indeed, fantastic and promising projects are taking place all over the world. However, the last report of the IPCC is really pessimistic. Changes have to be done and we are running out of time. Individual actions do not seem enough, what kind of role should States play?

R.H: Transition is not only about individual actions. A line has to be drawn between them and the authorities. The role of the state is to ask to people: « what do you need, what do you want us to do, how can we help you ? ». The basic idea should come from you, the citizen, working with the district, the municipality. The Barcelona model is amazing. The population is really working with the municipalities to improve the public policies.

After the IPPC report, we know how important it is to use less energy, to consume less products and also to eat less meat. It is a reminder and those ideas are becoming increasingly popular. Today in the UK, young people are embracing the idea of eating less meat, whereas when I was young, vegans were a minority and often marginalized, seen as very depressive. Today the message is the same but the way it is formulated has changed. The State should help this kind of movements.

Nowadays, when we watch the news it seems that things are going in the wrong direction. What is your secret to staying optimistic about the future and to retaining this energy to embrace positive changes ?


R.H: First of all, it is really important not to watch the news as often as we do. Media tend to only show the negative aspects of what is going on in the world. When the IPPC report came out, Rebecca Solnit wrote a beautiful article explaining the importance of shifting our focus on all positive things that are happening in the world. It is moving fast, maybe not fast enough, but it still moving faster than ever. For sure, I have pessimistic days, especially when I read this report, but at the same time it says that there are still possibilities. Fantastic movements and projects exist.


Mathilde Bigot

Alix Makereel

13F- It’s up to youth!

 « You’ll make the world a better place to live » is the promise Jeremy Rifkin made to the 1400 students gathered in Lille for the World Forum. Celebrating the 5th birthday of the 3rd industrial revolution in the Hauts de France region, the pioneer economist spoke to a young audience about their present and future. He advocated for global change. He asked them to drop their smartphones so they can have a real heart-to-heart exchange.


© Maxime Dufour photographies


  1. The 21st century: a society in mutation


Jeremy Rifkin did not waste any time. One day mankind will only have a single thought in mind: saving our species, saving our planet. This is the real impact climate change has. Besides global warming, our entire ecosystem is collapsing. As temperatures rises, the weather gets more unpredictable. Flooding in France, hurricanes in the USA, more and more people dying because of natural disasters: this is the new norm.

Productivity is declining, global GDP is growing at a slower rate, the seven richest people of the world hold half the world’s wealth. Something is wrong. Indeed, this is the sunset of the 2nd Industrial Revolution, amplified by fossil fuels and the sunrise of the 3rd Industrial Revolution and new communication methods.

The rev3 project is the opportunity to change things. This revolution is based on the ongoing changes since the 2008 economic earthquake: new communication technologies, new sources of energy and new ways of transport. This triad is framing societies and economies.  


  1. How do we become actors of tomorrow?   

He questions young people on their practices, and on the way they are living. Nowadays, being able to govern a nation means being able to meet the required change. « Youth is the third revolution ». The youngest generation was born into communication: Rev3’s bet is therefore based on sharing. Power could be shared between citizens that would now be their own producers. People could be able to move sustainably through new ways of transport.

« From globalization top down to glocalisation », this implies that each region can be an active player in control of their own economy and exchanges with other regions. The future world is an hyperconnected space where every building is a node that can produce energy.

This is the human role to achieve this plan. Young people need to join the project, to be capable of going with the flow. By becoming a reference model, Hauts de France could be an inspiration for Europe and extract itself from a development logic in decline.

« I don’t think it’s just about responsibility: we have to change who we are » said the prospective economist. He puts his hopes on individual behavior, in the faith that anyone can change anything within his capacity. « Show the world it can be done ».


Clémence Hervieu

14A – Du « glocal » pour les Hauts de France

Une Synthèse sur les cinq années du plan rev 3, réussites et projets pour l’avenir.


« Rev 3, c’est la volonté affichée du monde politique et économique de travailler ensemble », nous disait Philippe Rapeneau, décédé le 31 juillet dernier. 5 ans après le lancement du projet rev3, qu’en est-il des actions menées dans les Hauts de France ?


1000 projets, 10 grands chantiers structurants, 14 territoires démonstrateurs


Voilà les chiffres importants. Aujourd’hui, un millier de projets sont en cours d’aboutissement ou ont déjà été réalisés. La volonté générale est maintenant de poursuivre la dynamique sur 10 grands chantiers structurants, avec le volontariat de 14 territoires démonstrateurs.

Rev3 transforme et transplante une idée, devenue un projet grâce au World Forum. Cette idée, c’est celle de l’économiste Jeremy Rifkin. En 2012, il publie La Troisième Révolution Industrielle, et propose alors un nouveau modèle économique et industriel, que la région Hauts de France va décider d’appliquer sur ses territoires au travers du projet rev3.


La réalité de REV3


« Rev3, c’est un peu l’économie de l’avenir », selon Xavier Bertrand, président du Conseil régional des Hauts de France. Ce projet implique de nouvelles dynamiques pour les entreprises, les collectivités et les territoires à l’échelle locale, car la région veut être leader et pionnière dans l’économie circulaire.

Sur les quatorze sites concernés par ce nouveau système, des actions concrètes ont déjà été mises en place, et c’est une réussite. Mais « ce n’est pas gagné, et ce ne sera jamais gagné » nous rappelle Xavier Bertrand. « Nous n’avons qu’une obligation, c’est d’accélérer, car il nous faut plus de résultats ».

Car l’ambition de Jeremy Rifkin et de Philippe Vasseur, le président du projet et du World Forum, est d’étendre rev3 à d’autres régions, et de faire de ce système un modèle économique national.

« glocal » comme global et local


Pour Philippe Vasseur, le retour au local n’est pas une fermeture sur le territoire mais au contraire, une ouverture aux autres régions. L’intérêt des Hauts de France est d’échanger et de coopérer avec les régions qui le souhaitent. Aujourd’hui, de nombreuses villes et régions d’Europe commencent à copier le modèle ‘rifkinien’, comme à Rotterdam ou en Wallonie, où des mesures concrètes sont mises en place. Tout un réseau européen se met en œuvre.

D’après Jeremy Rifkin, « ce qu’il se passe ici est juste précurseur de ce qu’il va se passer dans quelques années en Europe », car selon lui « tous les pouvoirs doivent débuter à un niveau local », le principe de subsidiarité doit être mis en pratique afin de créer une nouvelle forme de gouvernance en Europe.


Un projet ambitieux mais réalisable


Même si le président de la mission rev3 nous rappelle qu’il faut s’adapter aux problèmes différents de chaque ville de la région, le président d’ADEME, Arnaud Leroy, assure que « techniquement, on peut le faire » à une échelle plus grande. Déclaration que l’auteur de La Troisième Révolution appuie en ajoutant : « cela peut être réalisé, mais c’est une course contre la montre, nous ne devons pas échouer ». Tout en finissant par supplier « s’il vous plait, laissez la France mener l’Europe en développant l’approche écologique ».  

Ce projet est donc porteur d’espoir pour la région mais aussi pour l’Europe de demain, car Philippe Vasseur l’assure, « rev 3 est créateur d’emplois, créateur d’activité, et surtout créateur d’espérance ».

Clara Nord

Paul Saginaw "Always looking forward"

Paul Saginaw, co-founder of the Zingerman’s business community, only started with a sandwich restaurant employing his partner and himself. Now, he has 17 partners, 12 businesses, more than 800 employees and generates over $68 million in annual sales. This ambitious and inspiring entrepreneur came to the local branding conference in order to explain his vision of business, deeply rooted to the local communities.


Why is it significant for you to be giving this speech in this the 12th edition of the WFRE focusing on the idea of super local?

It’s a great honour to be invited to this World Forum in Lille! We are small businesses, in a small town. So, the fact that somebody from outside the US knows that we exist is a really big deal. I’m really proud and surprised to be here. Being part of those different networking and sharing highly different experiences from all around the world is extremely inspiring!


With such a business growth, why did you choose to stay local?

For my partner and I, it was a “lifestyle choice”. I remember growing up, going to the small businesses, everybody knew your name and it was very friendly. For me, it seemed to be a very joyful way to live. This is why I wanted to create something in this perspective, by staying very local, in the same community. I’m also lucky to have found a partner who shares the same values.

So, we started from the premise that we had enough. From there, we were free from pressure and had the freedom to innovate and to be generous. We share the profit within the community.


How do you see your future?

That’s a good question, because I’m always looking forward. The goal, is not to look at the mistakes we made but, the joy we gave and everything we have accomplished so far. I care about people, and therefore, I tried to make more links in the community and make businesses better for people.


What do you stand for? What do you love in your job?

I do love my job and what I’m doing with my partners. I like to see the result of what we achieved with the multiple actors involved. I’m really ambitious about building unique and innovating businesses. I really like being able to look at what has been accomplished, all those jobs which have been created, those links that we created between people in the community.

In this business strategy we want the people to feel good. Then, I focus on what remains to be achieved and I try to be even more innovative. We created spiritual communities around the same values. Now, a lot of people come to look at our model and get inspired.


How do you choose among the people who want to join your business model, who could be good partners?

We interview the people to know if their business plan makes sense, if they share the same values. If everything seems good we say:  “ok let’s try it”. Of course, not everything succeeds but we learn from certain failures and as I said earlier, we look forward. It is not interesting to talk about your failures.