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The University of Clermont Auvergne organized a conference on “Sustainable Cities and Industries (Michelin Network)”. Mrs. Ilona Graenitz and Mrs. Zofija Macej Kukovic, former MEP’s, delivered a keynote on sustainable development, sustainable cities, urbanization and demography, to Mayors of European cities, European researches, civil society and large institutions.

Zofja MACEJ KUKOVIC, FMA Member, participated in this event.


It was with great pleasure that I took part in the University of Clermont-Ferrand Jean Monnet Programme and in the International Symposium ‘Michelin Network of sustainable cities’. There we looked at what steps would be needed to achieve a sustainable city, and a sustainable EU. Former MEP Ilona Graenitz from the European Parliament Former Members Association (FMA) also took part.

More than three years ago I wrote in my book ‘Start up Europe’: ‘Sustainable economic growth, where we use fewer resources and produce more products, is more realistically achievable in times of crisis than in times of plenty. History has taught us that times of plenty in themselves limit creativity.

The most important areas that will require major changes are mobility, food, health and housing.’

These points were still pertinent in the discussions that took place at the two events at Clermont-Ferrand, which focused on mobility and sustainable use of world resources. The conference with PhD students examined the issue of sustainability in cities. Given that there is no clear answer to the problem of population growth in cities, with some experts predicting that by 2040 some 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities, my talk focused on the need for further research into how to motivate people and create the conditions necessary for people to choose to stay in rural areas. A connection to the land and an intimate relationship with nature foster within us a sense of inner happiness.

Researchers and professors presented challenges for sustainable cities on issues ranging from culture and the environment to energy and impact on our economy and society. In two roundtables, we discussed European legislation pertaining to these matters and future trends. The students asked about this unique ‘sense of belonging to the EU’. For them, as students from all over the world, that was the most impressive fact about the EU. Their criticisms concerned issues such as Brexit and the migration crisis.

At the conference organised by the Michelin Network, I gave a presentation on mobility.

‘As a former health minister and a former member of the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, my activities have focused on the health of people and of our planet.

The European Parliament’s work has also focused on the legislation needed as a basis for mobility, which is a key aspect for sustainable cities. Digital Europe, the internal digital market and big data also present new technological opportunities to connect people whose needs are met by advances in mobility.

We should be thinking not only about people’s needs, but also about people’s feelings. All of us would like to feel safe, while still having privacy. Mobility could improve people’s safety, especially in cases of accidents, natural catastrophes or health emergencies. Mobility and accessibility are important for sustainability and for business development.’ World-renowned photographer Yann Arthus Bertrand used photography and film to present the world’s nature and people to the participants. His new film ‘WOMAN’ shows the misery of women in poverty and calls for political action.

Cécile Coulon, a young and very successful writer, also presented her latest award-winning book ‘Trois saisons d’orage’. She spent her childhood in a village and today writes and encourages young people to live more in harmony with nature. As a participant in the FMA Campus programme, I must say that the organisation by the University of Clermont-Ferrand and Professor Arnaud Diemer was excellent. It was also clear that the students were really engaged and keen to participate in our discussion. I would therefore like to thank all participants.


November 29, 2017
December 2, 2017
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