Mr Mayor, why is Coulaines a progressive city?
Coulaines is a progressive city because we preserve and manage our resources sustainably. We also improve social fairness by bettering access to health, culture, inclusion, education, etc. and combat social and environmental inequalities. In doing so, the city of Coulaines conducts all its daily policies (education, solidarity, spatial planning and culture) in the scope of sustainable development.
In an effort to achieve social progress, which is essential in order to meet environmental challenges, Coulaines was the first French municipality to ratify in 2008 the European Covenant of Mayors against global warming. Following this, we have committed ourselves to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 % by 2020.
The city of Coulaines has also invested in a major urban renewal program that includes, amongst other things, the construction of an educational center for excellence, the renovation of more than 1 000 social housing units, the insulation of sports equipment and the restoration and modernisation of the municipal swimming pool. It has also capitalized in activities requiring a lesser investment (like carbon balance, eco-grazing, differentiated management, chemical discontinuation or the acquisition of cleaner vehicles).
How are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) concretely implemented in Coulaines?
We preserve our natural resources by:
- developing a differentiated management of green areas;
- not using chemical products in the tending of natural areas since 2009;
- creating eco-grazing areas;
- turning off night-lighting in certain residential areas;
- installing water-saving systems in public facilities;
- creating green family gardens.
We also improve social equity and access for all to housing, sport, education, culture and major actions in these areas (a club that offers extra educational support for children coming from vulnerable families, a clause for social inclusion, inclusive groceries, free youth entertainments for schools, etc.).
We provide financial support for the local associations and encourage inhabitants' collective initiatives (citizens’ day, shared gardens in buildings complexes, citizens’ councils, etc.).
How does Europe help Coulaines to be a more sustainable city?
Europe contributes to our sustainability by financing the renovation and modernisation of municipal equipment through the European Regional Development Fund (Albert Camus Educational Centre for Excellence, swimming pool, sports facilities). It provides European Social Fund (ESF) funding for the AFIC integration project that supports people who have difficulties in accessing employment. It also promotes European exchanges each summer between Coulaines and its twin towns of Weyhe and Madona with the ERASMUS + programme, encourages decentralised cooperation projects that link the city of Coulaines to the city of Kouré to Niger and supports the Community to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
Christophe Rouillon has been the Mayor of Coulaines since 2001 and member of the European Committee of the Regions since 2008. He belongs to the French Socialist Party.
Photo credit: flickr / Boris Arbogast