Sustainable Cities: Summary of Findings from Three Years of Reciprocal Study Tours

September 1, 2014

From 2011 to 2013, the French-American Foundation—United States, in partnership with the French Ministry of Culture and Communication and with the support of the Florence Gould Foundation and Air France, organized an exchange program on sustainable cities for French and American professionals. Each year, the program consisted of two study tours, one in France, one in the United States, which showcased successful models and innovative approaches to urban planning and sustainability. This multi-year approach allowed for the examination of several facets of urban sustainability: environmental factors were considered alongside the role of culture, economic development, social cohesion, and the promotion of equal opportunity. Study tour participants included: urban planners, architects and landscape architects, representatives of cultural organizations, and elected officials. These professionals examined a range of projects and ideas through meetings with city officials, on-site visits to ongoing projects, and meetings with community leaders.

The 2011 program focused on cities in transition and the rehabilitation of run-down neighborhoods. In the United States, the French delegation met in Washington, D.C., before traveling to Baltimore, Maryland, and Cleveland, Ohio. The American delegation traveled to Paris and Lille. The 2012 program examined how green infrastructure can make the urban environment more “livable” for socially vulnerable and underserved residents. The French delegation visited the New York City area to explore these issues, and the U.S. delegation visited Paris, Nantes, and Lyon. During 2013, each study tour considered the role of arts and culture in improving the livability and economic vitality of cities. The program also explored how cultural policies and practices engage diverse and immigrant communities as integral parts of the sustainable city’s social fabric. The U.S. program took place in Seattle, Washington and the French study tour in Paris and Marseille.

Read the summary of findings, observations, and lessons learned from these three years of study tours: Sustainable Cities Report – September 2014.