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[Joint Interview] Anne Claire Mialot and Jean-Baptiste Butlen

The uniqueness of the association lies in its ability to bring together all professional actors, both public and private, including the State and its public operators, to accelerate the sustainable transformation of territories. 

Jean-Baptiste Butlen, Deputy Director for Sustainable Development (French Ministry of Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion – DHUP/DGALN), has been Vice-President of the association representing the State since 2020, and Anne-Claire Mialot, General Director of ANRU (National Agency for Urban Renewal), is the new treasurer. 

SCbF – Could you tell us about the genesis of the association and the reasons for the State’s involvement in Sustainable City by France?  

JB Butlen – The Institute for Sustainable Cities (IVD), which existed before SCbF, was initiated in 2014 in response to the report “Sustainable Cities, a Policy to Build” by Mr. Rolland Peylet, State Councilor, which recommended a partnership approach for sustainable cities, including the creation of a dedicated structure to address the lack of coordination among various initiatives on the subject. The State initially entrusted the implementation of this network to its public operators – ANRU and the Banque des Territoires, which held the Vice-Presidency for the State. On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the sustainable city plan in February 2020, IVD merged with the Vivapolis network to become Sustainable City by France, an association composed of four sectors (State, Local Authorities, Companies, Experts) and chaired by Patrice Vergriete, Mayor and President of the Urban Community of Dunkirk. I then took on the role of Vice-President to represent MTECT within the State sector. 

AC Mialot – ANRU has indeed played a “historic” role for the association. My predecessor, Nicolas Grivel, led the preparatory mission for the Institute for Sustainable Cities, initiated by the then Prime Minister following the submission of the Peylet report. The association, created at the end of 2015, gradually structured itself thanks to the involvement of ANRU teams and other State partners (DHUP, ADEME…) in launching the first working groups. The former General Director of ANRU remained a qualified personality of Sustainable City by France until his departure, and it was only natural that I proposed my candidacy as treasurer when I took office at ANRU to continue our Agency’s commitment to this excellent partnership project. 

SCbF – In practical terms, how can SCbF support the State in implementing public policies for sustainable urban development? 

JB Butlen – Sustainable City by France, by bringing together public and private professionals in urban development, acts as a trusted intermediary to facilitate dialogue between public policies and the realities on the ground, to avoid duplicating initiatives, and instead promote synergies. Through its operational work and the mobilization of expertise, the association also helps identify priorities for action and directs tools and best practices to accelerate the implementation of effective strategies. The Manifesto for Sustainable Cities and Territories, the demonstrator projects identified as part of the “inhabiting France of tomorrow” initiative, as well as SCbF’s contribution to the urban innovation strategy within the framework of France 2030 or the renewal of the EcoQuartier approach are concrete examples. In this sense, SCbF’s 2023 work programme already provides significant support in implementing the State’s major guidelines for ecological planning, particularly in the field of development, aiming for energy efficiency, land conservation, and overall resource conservation with the support of the Green Fund. 

AC Mialot – The round table that Jean-Baptiste Butlen mentioned is unique in France and essential for advancing collectively on fundamental issues for our territories that still need to be equipped and explored. Sustainable City by France, in addition to the expertise it provides, constitutes a space for exchange between both public and private stakeholders, which is necessary for progress in the creation, renewal, and management of cities, which require ambition, excellence, and innovation given the magnitude of the challenges. 

The neighborhoods in which we work, and their residents, are characterized by greater vulnerabilities than elsewhere, with an overexposure to multiple crises. Recognizing this shared reality, ANRU launched the “Resilient Neighborhoods” initiative a few months ago with the aim of anticipating, adapting to, and mitigating the effects of these crises. In these reflections, Sustainable City by France supports us with its expertise through interventions, training, and upcoming support for specific targeted areas. They have also allowed us to find sources of inspiration beyond our borders by organizing a study trip to Rotterdam for our teams. 

We also strive to share and provide perspective on our public policies and internationally highlight the specificities of our public agency for urban revitalization, such as our recent activities in Poland. 

SCbF – How does “inclusion,” a strong pillar of Sustainable City by France’s manifesto, manifest itself in its actions? 

AC Mialot – Sustainable City by France acts in coherence with all pillars of its manifesto, promoting the principles of sobriety, resilience, inclusion, and value creation, and supporting their implementation. 

Inclusion should be a guiding principle at all levels of intervention. We need to encourage a transformation of neighborhoods that promotes urban renewal, resource efficiency, but above all, a high quality of life, access to essential services, social and functional diversity, and spaces for participation. It is also important to consider reinforced agglomeration dynamics that integrate small and medium-sized cities, as well as neighborhoods facing significant social difficulties and urban dysfunctions, into local urban planning policies, economic policies, and social policies. These territorial dynamics are essential to limit the effects of isolation or segregation. 

Moreover, the city is a magnificent field of experimentation for new approaches centered around equality and inclusivity, as well as environmental health. We have a responsibility to better align social cohesion and urban transformation. 

JB Butlen – An inclusive territory fights against all forms of social and spatial segregation by protecting the most vulnerable, ensuring access to essential services, and promoting diversity. Sustainable City by France’s involvement in the ANRU’s “Resilient Neighborhoods” programme is an example of this. An inclusive territory is also participatory and democratic, and these principles are reflected in the association’s balanced and partnership-based governance, which enables its agility and independence: each sector has an equal say in the decision-making process. 

Find out more

👉About ANRU, The French National Agency for Urban Renewal

👉About the French Ministry of Ecological Transition

About Solène

Mission Officer, Working Group, and Projects. Student at the Urban School of Sciences Po Paris, focusing on the ecological transition of cities.

About Quentin

Motivated by climate issues and planetary boundaries, Quentin decided to study land use planning at the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées. His experience in associative field at the Fresque du Climat, helped him to better understand the stakes of the ecological bifurcation. Between his native Haute-Savoie and his home town Rennes, where he gained expertise in mobility and sustainable agriculture, he is now based in Paris to deploy the Sustainable City by France’s territorial workshops throughout the country.

About Alice

After five years’ study at Sciences Po Lyon, with a specialization in territorial transitions, Alice joined Sustainable City by France (France Villes et territoires Durables). She actively contributes to the deployment of the association’s territorial workshops and working groups.
See her LinkedIn profile 

Currently studying as a second-year Master’s student in International Relations at University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Tara holds a Bachelor’s degree from INALCO, with a double-major in Hindi language, and International relations / Environmental studies. Her work with us is in line with her former experiences at UNESCO and the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, thus deepening her professional expertise in the field of environmental diplomacy and international cooperation for sustainable development.

See her LinkedIn profile


She holds a Master’s degree in Development Economics from the Panthéon-Sorbonne University and is currently studying for a Master’s degree in International Relations and Action Abroad at the same university. She approaches the problems of sustainable cities and territories through these different perspectives and her international experiences.

About Isabelana

Isabelana is a Mexican journalist who holds a Master’s degree in Digital Communication and Data Analysis from the Sorbonne University. She previously worked in communication and press relations in the cultural sector in France and Mexico. Today, she is interested in ecological actions and solutions to preserve the environment and the biodiversity.

About Camille

camille photo
With a background in social sciences, art history and architecture, Camille has worked in communication within the VINCI group: from major international projects to La Fabrique de la Cité, a think tank dedicated to urban foresight.

About Alexandra

A geographer by training (Saint Petersburg State University), she started as a geographer and economist at the Academy of Agricultural Economics (Russia), before pursuing her career in France as an administrative and accounting assistant (Air Liquide, Association TGV Provence Côte d’Azur, COFHUAT, Groupe Hervé)

About Marion

Trained in international and European affairs between England and France as part of a double degree at Sciences-Po Lille / University of Kent, Marion started her career in advocacy and institutional relations of non-governmental organisations, in the fair trade sector (Max Havelaar France label). Her experiences are also linked to territories, with a passage in decentralised cooperation at the level of a departmental council.

About Sébastien

Before joining the SCbF team, he held several positions in local government management. From elected official and deputy mayor of his native city Besançon, in charge of university relations and international cooperation, to Director of Economic Development of the City of Pantin, to Chief of staff in Montreuil – where he notably piloted the in-depth redesign of the urban project towards more ecology and sustainable development – he continued his career as Senior Resilience Officer of the City of Paris.
He promotes a holistic and systemic vision of sustainable development and brings his expertise in territorial resilience, ecological and social transition.