“As Nelson Mandela said: “Overcoming poverty is not an act of charity but an act of justice”. As mayor of a municipality, every day, I am directly confronted with the difficulties encountered by my fellow citizens and it therefore seems essential to me to be able to use all the means available at local level to contribute to the fight against inequalities. It is therefore quite natural, that I decided to join the OECD Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth Initiative.”
– Mayor Philippe Rio
Philippe Rio has been Mayor of Grigny since 2012. In 2008 he was First Deputy Mayor in charge of urbanism, transportation, economic development and environment. He also previously worked for the municipality of Grigny as a local councillor since 1998. Raised and educated in Grigny, Philippe Rio studied urban planning at Sciences Po, Paris, and later specialised in urban renewal in public institutions.
In addition to his role as Mayor, he is Vice President in charge of sustainable development, energy transition, the water cycle and biodiversity of “Grand Paris Sud”, Vice President of “Ville et Banlieue” and President of the Association “Mayors for peace France”. On 16th October 2017, together with elected officials and field actors, Philippe Rio launched the “Grigny Appeal”. On 14th November 2020, he and a handful of elected officials initiated the open letter from 200 Mayors to the President of the French Republic for the Priority Urban Neighborhoods. On 29th January 2021, he welcomed the Prime Minister to Grigny for the Interministerial Committee for the City. On 13th September 2021, the World Mayor Foundation named him “Best Mayor in the World”.
Grigny’s “Cité educative” programme aims to ensure equal opportunities for all children. The city has increased the number of pre-school crèche and childcare places available to support children aged two and older in pre-school learning, giving priority to children whose parents are involved in vocational training. The municipality also launched the ‘200% Réussite” programme that helps children learn to read, write and count. Additionally, help with homework and tutoring is available. Pupils can also access specialised programmes in sport, music, arts and drama.
The city provides free breakfast to kindergarten children which has proven to increase children’s concentration in class. Grigny has also distributed school materials in primary schools (including. 500 calculators and 2700 kits containing pens and rulers). Grigny municipality is also focusing on making sport a vehicle for social inclusion and provides grants to pupils to cover sports clubs fees, and teenagers can get financial help to receive training to monitor children and get a certificate (BAFA).
The municipality is also helping youth enter the labour market through summer jobs, and guidance via the “Mission Locale” which supports the professional integration of 16 to 25 year olds.
The City of Grigny is aiming to meet 80% of its energy needs from renewable sources in the coming decade by using geothermal energy, for example, to heat 10,000 households following the 2014 creation of the Renewable Energies Operating Company. In addition to being renewable, geothermal energy also allows its users not to depend on geopolitical pressures and tensions, unlike gas, making Grigny more resilient. Additionally, a ‘green corridor’ through Grigny links lakes and valleys in order to restore biodiversity within urban areas. Rehabilitation of lakes and shores has also resulted in the creation of 90 gardens and a vineyard.
Since 2000, the House for Children and Nature (Maison des Enfants et de la Nature) has been developing actions to raise awareness of environmental issues, for both children and parents. The building opens onto green space, is near lakes, and has ecological equipment such as solar panels, wind turbines, a wood boiler, and rainwater collectors.
Grigny has a labour department “Antenne Emploi Grigny” composed of eight counsellors that connect jobseekers with employers. The department provides job interview coaching, internet workshops (to coach jobseekers in how to apply for jobs online), and workshops on how to write CVs and cover letters. Mayor Rio has also developed the previously existing Training and Professionalisation Centre, whose aim is to help companies develop training programmes. As a result, between 100 and 150 jobseekers receive training each year, mostly in: new information and communication technologies, building, and catering. For example, in 2021 Grigny launched the ‘Building Geeks’ scheme that aims to provide young people with access to employment within four months of completing a short, pre-qualifying course in building maintenance. They also provide French classes to improve labour integration.
Housing – To ensure access to affordable good quality accommodation for residents, the city operates ‘Grigny 2’, an urban programme that purchases housing considered to be unsuitable and renovates or rebuilds it. While renovating property, the city temporarily relocates residents in buildings where rent is low until they can return to the now city-owned property. The aim is to increase the stock of affordable quality housing, improve living conditions, and increase environmental sustainability.
Helping older residents – The municipality of Grigny offers a range of services and activities for elderly residents. Services include home-delivered meals, adapted transportation, handiwork assistance, and support with domestic cleaning and grocery shopping. Tea parties, dance parties, and cultural activities like art and cinema are some of the activities offered. Grigny also joined the “Essonne Téléassistance”, a 24/7 service allowing vulnerable elderly people to rapidly receive assistance, at the press of a button on a bracelet.
Gender inequality – Once a month the city offers women free hygiene products (menstrual pads and tampons) at various distribution points across the city. Grigny also runs an information and awareness campaign teaching young girls about first periods, in which psychological and physical aspects are addressed, as many young girls in Grigny do not have access to this kind of information.