Towards a negotiated social contract

A sensitive issue

How do we maintain local industrial activity while at the same time reducing risk?

The cohabitation of populations and industrial activities that generate risk is a sensitive issue, as it brings together issues of economic development and comfort, but also brings the risk of potential damage to the health and well-being of communities. Given the diversity and divergence in the viewpoints and objectives of the actors concerned, the determination of a "sustainable collective agreement", a kind of "new social contract", based on the development or technologically risky activities is fraught with obstacles and difficulties.

Established in February 2010, the  "Towards a negotiated social contract" Discussion Group brings together all stakeholders in industrial safety: residents, elected officials, industrialists, trade unionists, researchers, associations, etc. Its main objective is to allow all of these actors to express their needs and expectations, to discuss their view of priorities and the solutions to be implemented in order to improve life together and go beyond simply living with the situation.

A close link between research and actors on the ground

Given the aim of improving life together, industrial risk is immediately the subject of trade-offs and negotiation. It gives rise to tacit agreements between the various stakeholders. One of the major challenges for society is to make these agreements more explicit and identify the conditions of this new "social contract".

The theme was the subject of the last call for proposals for multidisciplinary and international research by the Foundation for an Industrial Safety Culture (FonCSI) entitled Activities with technological risks and social issues. Dynamic processes for negotiation, trade-offs and compromise. The call was launched in December 2010 after several meetings of FonCSI's Scientific Council, some of which were linked to those of the Discussion Group.

From its inception this Discussion Group established close links with research. The fact that its initial meetings were held at the same time as those of the Scientific Committee encouraged the inclusion of the ideas and expectations of all stakeholders in developing the call for proposals. Conversely, it allowed ICSI's members to directly contribute to the ideas of researchers. The group has now adapted its pace to that of the research programme and it meets once or twice per year with selected teams. It follows the progress of projects and continues to anchor its work in real-life situations.

Participation in this Discussion Group has a direct impact on research and its implications for the future.

An active community

Since its first meeting on 5 February 2010, this Discussion Group has met 12 times.

The commitment of its participants and the opportunities that they created have led to many results:

- The publication, in 2011 of a 10-question Industrial Safety Report Industries à risques technologiques : un enjeu de société à négocier ? (Industries at technological risk: a challenge for society? French only) that brings together in 10 themes the expectations of stakeholders;
- The publication, in 2011 of the Industrial Safety Report PPRT, où en sommes-nous ? Le point de vue des élus (Technological Risk Prevention Plans, Where are we? The view of elected officials, French only). This report was undertaken at the initiative of, and in collaboration with Amaris, which is a founding member of the Group;
- A round table discussion in Lyon, France in 2011;
- In 2011 the French Salaise-sur-Sanne local authority, another founding member, requested support that took the form of a sociological diagnosis of the Salaise-sur-Sanne local authority.

This paradox is very well illustrated by the French film Une seconde nature (Second Nature), a documentary made in the French region of Fos sur Mer and the Étang de Berre, presented during one of the meetings of the Discussion Group by its director, David Bouttin.

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