This article describes recent freight consultations in the Paris region (called the Ile de France) and assesses their usefulness to the urban freight policy. The Ile de France is one of 22 French regions, and is one of the largest and most developed metropolitan areas in Europe. It is currently confronting major economic, environmental, and institutional challenges. In this changing context, freight and logistics activities have been acknowledged as major contributors to the region’s economic well being that nonetheless have negative environmental effects such as noise, air pollution, and CO2 emissions. To manage freight transport in a more sustainable manner, the City of Paris and, more recently, the Ile-de-France Region,have engaged in consultations with freight transport firms, carriers’ organizations, and shippers’ associations.
Our method is based on personal knowledge and experience, on a quantitative analysis of meeting records, and on interviews with local practitioners and elected officials. We examine consultations at three levels in the Ile de France Region’s institutional framework: the local level, represented by the “neighbourhood councils” in the city of Paris’s individual districts; the municipal level, with the Paris Delivery Charter experience (2006–2009); and the regional level, through the Ile-de-France Regional Council’s recent experiences with freight consultation.
Results and conclusion
We analyse the difficulties encountered when conducting negotiations with the freight and logistics sectors in a complex urban environment. We describe the relationships between local and regional processes, showing how they have benefited from and sometimes overlapped with one another. Conditions for success are suggested, and a few guidelines are proposed.The Paris case leads to three conclusions. First of all, with regard to freight issues, specific consultations need to be implemented, because regular consultationsneglect freight transport issues. Secondly, freight consultations are of little use at the local and municipal levels. They need to be combined with metropolitan or region-wide consultation, because freight movement in urban areas is logistically connected to regional and national supply chains. Finally, it is important that consultation outcomes translate into effective changes in policies and behaviours. If not, well-intentioned freight companies willing to improve their urban operations will be discouraged from doing so and the very purpose of freight consultations, which is to promote more efficient and sustainable urban supply chains based on voluntary commitments, will be lost.