Covid-19 is tolling the bell for the current model of economic globalization, based on the free-market rule and on total consumption. President Macron himself has acknowledged the need for a break. But there is a striking contrast between the extent of the current mobilization in the name of the health emergency, and the timidity of commitments responding to the ‘ecological and climate emergency’. Let us take advantage of this suspended time to join forces and work to transform the system in depth, from the ground up. Spaces of life, of cooperation amongst all the players, these will be best able to lead global change, guided by a shared imagination. Our ‘Transition Factory’ proposal here is, precisely, a union of efforts, experiences and methods at the service of all territories1 willing to engage in a real transition process.

Our systems of thought, development models, forms of governance, our legal, economic and financial conventions conditioned by the current market-dominated globalization, and the lifestyles that structure our societies are inherited from past centuries. They have led to a threefold crisis in relations: between humankind and the biosphere, the most spectacular manifestation of which is climate change; amongst individuals, with the breakdown of social cohesion; and amongst societies, with the risk of nation-based withdrawal and the inability to manage interdependence together, as so brilliantly illustrated by the current pandemic. The very survival of humankind is at stake.

In spite of more than 30 years’ findings and countless speeches, international conferences and agreements, the necessary transition to sustainable and mutually supportive societies is still not seriously under way, giving rise to a sense of rage and powerlessness amongst the young.

There are many reasons underlying this inability to produce systemic change – that is, change that affects all aspects of our lives. Two are obvious: we cannot hope to solve a problem with the same terms that engendered it; and our narrow conception of the responsibility of each means that no one really feels responsible for the disasters that are brewing.

Faced with the need to make a radical change in our systems of thought, our economic models, our institutions and our development trajectories, ‘territories’, in the sense of relationship-woven human communities, are called upon to become decisive actors in the transition to be led. But they are still far from playing this propelling role. There are many obstacles, both internal – compartmentalized actors, compartmentalized policies – and external as in the past two centuries the political and economic role of territories has constantly diminished while that of states and large companies has grown.

The need and urgency of a systemic transition and the role that territories can play in it are now universally recognized. In Europe and in other continents, regions and cities are on the front line, and innovative initiatives are multiplying. The French municipal elections of 15 March 2020 confirmed the growing aspiration of French society for a commitment by local and regional authorities to a change in the model.

In the past several decades, a few territories have initiated genuine strategies for systemic change, the common lessons of which constitute the basis for managing change: the progressive commitment of all actors around a jointly built vision and shared values; learning to cooperate; moving beyond sector-based approaches to a systemic approach; the constant link between a long-term perspective and the concrete measurement of progress; the creation of new representations of wealth and new sustainable economic models. These strategies show that the transition is possible and a source of joy and hope for those involved. They cannot transform the whole system on their own, and further transformations are indispensable at the global, European and national levels, but taken collectively, they can be the seeds of systemic change.

We, the diverse actors involved in the transition of territories, believe that the time has come to join forces, networks, experiences and energy to contribute to this change of scale, by supporting the many territories willing to move forward in the transition and constituting a force capable of bringing about the necessary changes at all levels.

Our alliance is expressed through a Charter entitled ‘Manufacturing Transitions’, which underscores that this is to be built piece by piece and step by step, that it implies a deep change in the way of seeing and conceiving territories and their governance, that it challenges the institutional, legal and economic framework in which the transition is taking place, and that it is part of a long-term strategy.

Ready to welcome all players who share this ambition and demonstrate it by signing its Charter, the Factory, by pooling the experience, skills and methods of all its allies, places itself at the service of those territories determined to embark on a systemic transition. It also aims to be a source of proposals to convince the French and European institutions – at a time when the new Green Pact is being prepared – of the importance of territorial strategies and the need, in order to support them, to transform their own modes of action.

Would you like to be part of it? Join us by going to and signing the Charter of Alliance.

Jean-François CARON and the allies of the Transition Factory