Co-creating a sustainable future for France’s second city: The power of community
Organisation : Civocracy and Ville de Lyon , France , France

At the end of 2016, the government of the Ville de Lyon (France) began working with Civocracy (a CivicTech company centred on citizen participation and co-creation) on a longitudinal transformation project in order to create a better, more sustainable society for their community through engaging their citizens.

The city’s public sector workers are consulting citizens on a range of sustainability and public service infrastructure subjects, including the urban planning of green spaces, education structures, improved public transportation, and the regulation of city temperatures during periods of hot weather.

Agendas addressed
Urban mobilityBiodiversityGreenfield land and natural space
Climate changePublic spaceSocial inclusion and integration
Pathways followed
  • Ensure equal access to municipal services
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
  • Promote social innovation supporting inclusion
  • Nurture a sharing economy
  • Implement sustainable procurement principles
  • Pursue a shift towards a circular economy
  • Wisely select and apply smart technologies
  • Guarantee equal access to information & digital services

Lyon is 2,000 years old and has a unique history,  in that it has never suffered from a major disaster or a wide-scale redesign by urban planners. This means that while its history is intact, the central city area was not designed for large numbers of inhabitants.

When the project began 2 years ago, France’s second city had an estimated population of 1,610,000. Since then, the population has increased by 200,000, and there is a growing immigrant population.

With this sharp growth curve, Lyon wants to ensure that the city grows and adapts to potential future challenges posed by an increased population in a sustainable and effective way, which fully benefits and reflects its citizens’ needs.

Lyon have set themselves the challenge of becoming a fully sustainable city by 2030.

In Action

Ville de Lyon began consulting their citizens in 2016 on a small scale project in order to test structures, methods and results of citizen participation.

The pioneering project, titled Réinventons le Clos Jouve (, focused on urban planning. The city wanted to rejuvenate a major city park in a lasting way. They therefore undertook a consultation with their citizens to crowdsource ideas for the development of the park. They set aside €650k specifically for this project, to undertake both the consultation and implementation.

Alongside the online consultation on the Civocracy platform, which featured over 500 participants, including sketches from professional architects, they requested ideas from both school children and senior citizens through offline methods (these results were also uploaded to the platform to ensure centralisation): they received around 15 drawings from school children.

Following the success of this project, in 2017 Ville de Lyon opted to focus on educational structural change (, following the decision by the French government to decentralise education policy.   

The aims of this citizen consultation were to decide what activities should be provided in schools outside of class times, to establish the organisational needs of families (and determine how the city can assist), and to identify the school pattern that is best for pre-schoolers to follow.

While the consultation was open to the general public, the city also undertook specific outreach to teachers, childcare experts, child psychologists, parents and children to ensure that the best collaborative decision was being made.

From 2018 to 2030, Ville de Lyon will undertake a number of sustainability projects. They are currently drafting a plan to address topics such as energy-efficient building work, the production of renewable energy, improved commuting options, the circular economy within public purchasing, waste management, city biodiversity and urban agriculture.

Initially, they plan to gauge the awareness and knowledge of their citizens on these topics, and then prioritise topic areas, develop initiatives in affiliation with key stakeholders (such as Ademe and Energie Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes) and their citizens, and then implement these on a city level. They will additionally follow up with their citizens at regular intervals to encourage personal implementation of sustainability projects.


With the Clos Jouve project, the city hired an external organisation to undertake the design and implementation work following the consultation. This company are currently finalising landscaping design and materials selection in accordance with community sentiment and sustainability best practises. Building and development will begin in January 2019, and will be finished by December 2019.

During the school project, almost 2000 contributions were received. Of these contributions, 12% were from teachers, 4% from childcare experts, and 58% from parents. Additionally, 1014 children from 20 schools were interviewed. Citizens from all 9 of Ville de Lyon’s districts contributed to the discussion.

“We are confronted with a difficulty that traditional tools do not allow us to resolve: limited participation, particularly amongst young people. Civocracy allows us to address this major problem. Easy to take in hand, easy to access, it allows young people who are used to digital technology to participate, and enables us to re-engage the city more generally.”

David Kimelfeld, Mayor of the 4th Arrondissement of Lyon


The Clos Jouve project was a flagship project for the city, and helped to prove to citizens that the city government was serious about co-creating projects. By using the Civocracy platform, Ville de Lyon was able to show citizens when their comments have been read (through the use of a tick system), respond to ideas and inputs, send project updates, and be transparent with the project timeline. This helped to build trust, and will ultimately lead to the re-engagement of citizens with future projects.

This is shown quantitatively, as the re-engagement rate from the park project to the school project was 52% (the previous average for re-engagement on the Civocracy platform was 24%). Also, following the success of the first project, there was an increase of 400% in participant numbers.  

Ville de Lyon made six concrete change changes to city’s educational system following the consultation. These included:

- Lengthened breaks for students to increase their concentration and creativity

- Addition of extracurricular activities run by external organisations

- Improved teacher-student ratios during extracurricular activities

These changes will help to increase students’ learning ability.

As well we co-creating a number of initiatives to improve the city’s sustainability, Ville de Lyon will also be able to produce a comprehensive update to their climate change plan, including developing targets for the next 10 years. The original plan spanned 2007-2020, and includes 86 actions. This is key, as the city’s policy is not being decided on a purely political basis, it will be a true collective decision.

Challenges and lessons learned
  • It’s essential to look at the long-term perspective of the project: What is the project hoping to achieve? How will you ensure this is achieved? What benefit will this have for the community?

  • It’s better to undertake one successful participation project than numerous half-hearted ones.

  • To get comprehensive results, on- and offline consultations must be combined. This ensures all demographics are reached.

  • A strong communications plan must be created before the launch of the consultations.

  • Consultations must be linked to a decision, and include a timeline (even if the action won’t be implemented for over a year).



ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
European Secretariat

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79098 Freiburg

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