This working paper identifies their role in light of such challenges as territorial divergence – with demographic growth and urban sprawl on the French side of the border, and economic development and job creation on the Swiss side. This territorial imbalance has major consequences on transportation needs as well as negative effects. Indeed, poor air quality, road congestion and increasing greenhouse gases emissions are pressing local concerns.
As most of the dynamics involved are cross-border in nature – migratory flows, economic activities, pollution – local authorities have been encouraged to find innovative solutions. Transnational governance, policy convergence and integration in Greater Geneva, mostly through the Pôle métropolitain, have the potential to tackle these problems. They could be of interest to other French authorities facing similar problems. Policies that have an influence on transportation needs, such as urban planning and economic development, are increasingly devised in conjunction with mobility policies. Intermunicipal authorities are gradually choosing to define them together at the level of the Pôle métropolitain, which is more in keeping with citizens’ everyday practices regarding mobility. These policies could enhance territorial integration and limit urban segregation as well as decrease Greater Geneva’s environmental footprint.
This analysis of mobility issues and policies at the scale of Greater Geneva is the first in a series of papers dedicated to local governance and innovation in the context of the ecological transition. It questions how public policies, tools and institutions could tackle environmental issues identified at this level. Greater Geneva is a particularly important case study as regards problems associated with mobility and urban development. Indeed, in a cross-border living area, these problems are aggravated. We focus on the Pôle métropolitain du Genevois français, which is the institution created by local authorities on the French side of the border to coordinate their policies as regards cross-border issues. This case study sheds light on the potential advantages of such a political integration and coordination of local public policies. Pôles métropolitains are a flexible institutional tool that could be of interest to other urban areas – big and smaller cities alike – in order to set up cooperation at a scale compatible with people’s everyday practices.
Greater Geneva is under significant pressure in light of its cross-border situation and its diversity – geography, activities, population density and institutions. Thus, this case exemplifies the way local authorities can find innovative ways to control unsustainable dynamics – demographic growth, territorial specialization – in a particularly challenging context.
Map – Greater Geneva cooperation - French and Swiss local authority members
Note: French local authorities are shown in purple. They are also members of the Pôle métropolitain du Genevois français. The Nyon district is in orange, the Geneva canton in dark orange. Together they form Greater Geneva.
Source: Greater Geneva
 This analysis does not address property and tax law, which are an important but distinct aspect of this issue. A complementary analysis, such as the ones made by the Comité pour l’économie verte, INRA and IFSTTAR, would be highly relevant. Comité pour l’économie verte (2015), Fiscalité et artificialisation des sols; INRA, IFSTTAR (2017), Sols artificialisés et processus d’artificialisation des sols : déterminants, impacts et leviers d’action. Synthèse de l’expertise scientifique collective, December 2017