Settled in the wake of Roman conquest, the colony then known then as Lugdunum was founded by one of Julius Caesar’s officers in 43BCE. At the intersection of the Rhône and Saône Rivers, this strategically located city grew to become perhaps the most important in north-western Europe. Some of the architecture of antiquity survives until this day, including aqueducts and amphitheatres. Among many others, these historic sites of Lyons have now been designated UNESCO World Heritage status. Lyon, which did not come under French control until the 14th century, became famous for its production of silk in the Renaissance, a trend which continued into the industrial revolution. Lyon occupies a special place in cinema history, for it was there that the brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière shot Sortie des Usines Lumière à Lyon in 1895. This 46 second documentary is often regarded as history’s first piece of film-making. The capital of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, Lyon itself as half a million people, yet the greater metropolitan area has around 2.2 million, making it the second largest in France, after Paris. It currently has a vibrant economy and is internationally famous for its gastronomic excellence


Partway between the temperate oceanic climates of northern France and the warmer Mediterranean clime of south, Lyon seems to have a mix of both. It has an average summer high/low of 27/16°C in July, and a winter high/low average of 6.4/0.3°C in January. The city receives around 830mm of rain annually, falling over about 100 days, spread across the year. The winter months are the most dry, and the city can experience around 20 days of snow over the season

Climate Adaptation

By 2100, Lyon is expecting to have a climate similarly to that of current day Algiers. This projection brings with it justified fears of heat waves and urban heat island effects. The city has outlined it mitigation/adaptation in their 2015 Progress Report of the  Territorial Climate and Energy Plan (see documents below, also this). Lyon has long been a leader in the movement of global cities taking action on climate change. To give a few examples; back in the year 2000, the city hosted an event which produced the The Declaration of the First International Forum of Indigenous Peoples on Climate Change. This forum was perhaps the first of many statements issued by indigenous people on the issue of climate change. Then, in 2011 the Lyon Declaration was issued. This declaration had the telling subtitle: Of Regions and Federated States Engaged for the Climate. With the participation of the nrg4SD, ICLEI and UCLG, this declaration essentially reaffirms the pivotal role that cities and regions must play in the adapting and mitigating climate change, while also emphasizing their preference for international decentralized cooperation. Finally, the second workshop of the Climate Metropole+ initiative “Climate Change Adaptation – Strategies, Actions and Challenges” was held in Lyon on 8-9th of February 2016.


Vélo’v Bike Hire Scheme

One of mayor Gérard Collomb’s achievements was the introduction of the Vélo’v bike hire scheme in 2005 (the name is a portmanteau of French word vélo [bike] and the English word love). This highly successful practice has since been emulated by Paris, London and Buenos Aires, among others. In tandem with this scheme has been the continued augmentation of the city’s already expansive public transport provision in the city. Lyon boasts a four-line Metro, two funicular lines, five tramway lines and 130 bus and trolley-bus lines that criss-cross the territory, facilitating around 1.4 million daily journeys. One of the key players of the Vélo’v scheme was Gilles Vesco, a Lyon politician with a focus on ‘new urban mobility’. This concept runs against the private car ownership model, with the alternative goal of rebalancing public space, in order to create a walkable city with less pollution, noise and stress. Many of the car parks that formerly ran alongside the banks of Lyon’s two rivers have since been removed and replaced with green human-friendly parks. Since 2005 the number of cars entering Lyon has fallen by 20 per cent, as the popularity of cycling rose threefold. Vesco is aiming policy for a further 20 per cent drop over the next decade, despite the projected 10% increase in population. The drop in private automobile traffic fed into a drop in general emissions from the city—with between the year 2000 and 2013—the city’s emissions falling by 11 percent, again, despite the 10 percent increase in population over this time.


Lyon Confluence district

 Many of Lyon’s adaptation projects are showcased in the website Lyon Confluence. This website looks at life in general in the city where two rivers meet, including having local news, guides to moving to the city and what to do there. Nestled in amongst this are many briefly sketched details of the city’s comprehensive sustainably plans; with pages devoted to energy, water, light and wildlife, as well as architecture and guides to consume locally produced food.  In this way, Lyon Confluence is notable for locating sustainability as part of everyday life, intertwining it with the lived practices of the people who inhabit the city.

Gérard Collomb


Gérard Collomb, born on June 20, 1947, in Chalon-sur-Saône (Saône-et-Loire department), is Senator-Mayor of Lyon and President of Greater Lyon.

After preparatory school studies at Lycée du Parc and university studies at the University of Lyon, Gérard Collomb became a Senior Teacher of Classical Studies in 1970. He has taught in various schools in the region. At the end of the sixties, he participated in the reorganization of the Socialist Party in the Rhône department. He became a member of the Municipal Council of Lyon in 1977 and was elected as a representative in 1981 at the age of thirty-four.

Named National Secretary for the Socialist Party for Foreign Relations and then for Emerging Countries, Gérard Collomb participated in the creation of the Jean-Juarès Foundation in 1992 and became its Secretary General. He was also a member of the Economic and Social Council and a regional advisor for the Rhône-Alpes region (from 1992 to 1999).

He initiated the Plural Left, and his list of candidates won three Lyon arrondissements in the 1995 municipal elections. Elected Mayor of the 9th arrondissement, he became part of the Greater Lyon Executive Committee, presided by Raymond Barre.

Elected senator in 2000, he won the municipal elections in Lyon in 2001 and became Mayor of Lyon and President of Greater Lyon. On March 9, 2008, he was re-elected as mayor on the first round of voting.

On March 31, 2014, he was re-elected for a third term as head of the City of Lyon and of Greater Lyon, which became Lyon Metropolis on January 1, 2015.
He was also re-elected as a  Senator on September 28, 2014.


Mayoral Statement

Despite efforts at a global scale, the disruption in the climate seems inevitable. The new “Adaptation” Climate Plan will allow the Lyon Metropolis to work with its partners to set up a collective strategy.

The issue of temperature is crucial: in 2100, Lyon will have the same climate as Algiers. Between now and then, heatwave events will become more intense, more frequent and will particularly affect the most vulnerable.

Water management is just as crucial: increased risk of flooding, rising cost of producing potable water and possible depletion of groundwater reserves are issues we must address today to better preserve this precious resource in the years to come.

The economy of the Metropolis will also need to adapt. Agriculture will have to address soil drainage and reasonable irrigation as well as adaptation of crops. In industry, many businesses are dependent upon the change in price of energy, and are heavy consumers of water. Tourism is also at risk, with climate being often one of the primary criteria in the selection of destination.

Already, at one level, the Metropolis can act. And particularly since it has acquired new competencies since January 1, 2015.

To mitigate heat island effects, for example, we can put together a number of urban management plans: multiplication of green islands in the town, innovations in “clean tech” to imagine how materials can contribute to the replenishment of the city, and actions to minimise impacts on the most vulnerable populations.

We can also sustain farmers in case of exceptional weather events, and help the sector to continue to robustly adapt its practices to a new climatic environment.

But the Metropolis cannot act alone. For this reason the “Adaptation” plan is necessary. Because together, we have the resources to make our region one which, tomorrow, in different climatic conditions, will always be more responsible, always more attractive, always a better place to live.

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