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Abstract

Biogas is a process for producing renewable energy, which has recently gained interest in contributing to a territorial strategy for the deployment of the circular economy. The projects, which are collective in nature, bring together multiple actors or local stakeholders from a wide variety of backgrounds. The article proposes to analyze the territorial governance of this type of project by studying the relations of synergy and cooperation between stakeholders in the case study of the Syndicat Mixte du Point Fort (SMPF) of Cavigny (France). The results of the analysis of interaction and coordination networks show that local stakeholders develop dense relational networks that vary throughout the project. This high density is indicative of the importance of group cohesion in interactions, which is necessary to create a framework of trust and consultation that favors the success of territorial renewable energy projects. The measure of centrality of the interacting actors shows that the project leader (SMPF) plays the role of assembler and facilitator of the interaction networks facilitating the sharing of flows, knowledge, and collective learning.
1
Territorial governance and actors'
coordination in a local project of
anaerobic digestion
A social network analysis
Authors:
Amadou Niang
UMR SAD-APT, INRAE, AgroParisTech, université Paris-Saclay, 16 rue Claude-Bernard,
75005, Paris, France
amadou.niang@inrae.fr
Corresponding author
André Torre
UMR SAD-APT, INRAE, AgroParisTech, université Paris-Saclay, 16 rue Claude-Bernard,
75005, Paris, France
torre@agroparistech.fr
Sébastien Bourdin
EM Normandie Business School, laboratoire Métis, 9 rue Claude-Bloch,
14052, Caen, France
sbourdin@em-normandie.fr
Abstract:
Biogas is a process for producing renewable energy, which has recently gained interest in
contributing to a territorial strategy for the deployment of the circular economy. The projects,
which are collective in nature, bring together multiple actors or local stakeholders from a wide
variety of backgrounds. The article proposes to analyze the territorial governance of this type
of project by studying the relations of synergy and cooperation between stakeholders in the case
study of the Syndicat Mixte du Point Fort (SMPF) of Cavigny (France). The results of the
analysis of interaction and coordination networks show that local stakeholders develop dense
relational networks that vary throughout the project. This high density is indicative of the
importance of group cohesion in interactions, which is necessary to create a framework of trust
and consultation that favors the success of territorial renewable energy projects. The measure
of centrality of the interacting actors shows that the project leader (SMPF) plays the role of
assembler and facilitator of the interaction networks facilitating the sharing of flows,
knowledge, and collective learning.
Keywords: anaerobic digestion, biogas, territorial governance, social network analysis,
innovation
2
INTRODUCTION
As a result of growing environmental concerns and the desire to reduce the consumption of
non-renewable resources, in recent years new technologies for transforming biomass into
energy and agricultural fertilizers have developed within the framework of circular economy
strategies (Wall et al., 2017). This is particularly the case of anaerobic digestion biogas projects.
They implement a process of biological degradation of organic residues generated by
agriculture, food processing industries, and local authorities and their transformation into
biogas and digestate, which are then reintroduced into the production process in energy inputs
and organic nitrogen fertiliser (Holm-Nielsen et al., 2009). These biotechnological processes
promote the reduction of pollution (Clemens et al., 2006), the revitalization of territories
through the creation of new enterprises and locally anchored jobs, as well as the mobilization
and cooperation of actors in the territorial governance of rural territories (Guenther-Lübbers et
al., 2016).
In its desire to ensure the energy transition and the deployment of the circular economy, France
has promoted the implementation of multiple biogas projects (Ministry for ecological transition
- MTE, 2018), which are divided into different development modes depending on the origin of
the waste treated and the actors involved. A distinction is thus made between (i) biogas on-farm
biogas digester, a small-scale unit generally carried by a farmer who treats most of the waste
from his farm (livestock effluents or crop residues), and (ii) collective anaerobic digestion unit,
which concerns territorial projects carried out by a group of farmers, local authorities or
industries, with a diversity of the types of inputs provided by farms, agri-food companies and
local authorities.
The development of this type of project does not always go smoothly, and the organizational
difficulties related to the complexity of the relationships between stakeholders and the
resistance of local populations fearing negative externalities are the main obstacles to the
implementation of biogas units (Zemo et al., 2019; Bourdin & Nadou, 2020). Work on the
analysis of social acceptability issues in biogas projects is increasing (Giuliano et al., 2018;
Bourdin et al., 2019), but research does not focus on understanding the complex relationships
built and developed between the local actors involved in anaerobic digestion projects. Little
attention is generally paid in academic work to the territorial governance mechanisms at work
in these projects, i.e. the way stakeholders or various actors (producers, associations, citizens,
private individuals, representatives of public or local authorities...) contribute to the elaboration,
sometimes concerted, sometimes conflictual, of joint projects for territorial development (Torre
& Traversac, 2011).
This article aims to understand the organization of the territorial governance of biogas projects
and the dynamics of coordination and cooperation
1
of the local stakeholders, based on a case
study located in the rural city of Cavigny (Normandy - France). The experience reveals that
market coordination is not sufficient in the case of local circular economy experiments and that
local agreements need to rely on the cooperation between local actors, to forecast joint projects
and to share common expectations for future development projects (Bourdin et al., 2019). We
study the evolution of local relations and of cooperation synergy based on an analysis of the
interaction and coordination networks between the actors involved in the project.
1
Let us note that cooperation can be defined as a specific kind of coordination.
3
The anaerobic digestion project developed by the Syndicat Mixte du Point Fort (SMPF) is a
good example of these synergies and territorial approaches to the new valorization of organic
waste. It corresponds to the above definition of governance of territorial projects, bringing
together multiple actors from different backgrounds and different interests. Because of this
diversity, it involves different forms of interaction and coordination that are likely to meet the
common needs of stakeholders and generate positive development effects for the territory.
Our analysis is based on the social network approach (SNA). Issued from graph theory (Keast
& Brown, 2005), which has already been mobilized for analyzing regional innovation systems
(Asheim & Isaksen, 2002; Cooke, 2001), it has recently been applied to organizational issues
of territorial governance to describe the structure of local interactions. It has given rise to
empirical studies on the dynamics of innovation and governance in rural territories, particularly
in the territorial processes linked to the development of the cork industry in Portugal (Ferreiro
& Sousa, 2018) or in the Brazilian Amazon between actors of the dairy industry (Torre et al.,
2019). Other studies have focused on inter-organizational networks, applied to stakeholder
synergies in clusters (Cruz & Teixeira, 2010), in industrial and territorial ecology (Ashton &
Bain, 2012), or on local governance and rural development systems in Brazil (Polge & Torre,
2017).
The example of the biogas project in Cavigny allows us to study the relations of synergy and
cooperation between local actors, based on an analysis of the social networks of interaction and
coordination and their evolution over the periods of implementation and development. First, we
will present our framework of analysis of the territorial governance of biogas projects and its
implications in terms of rural territorial development, before detailing in a second part our
theoretical approach and the methodology of analysis. We will then present the results that
allow to identifying and quantifying the types of links that exist between the actors of biogas
and to characterizing the influence and the dynamics of these social networks. We will end by
a discussion on these results and the.
1. ANAEROBIC DIGESTION AS A TOOL FOR INNOVATION AND RURAL
TERRITORIAL GOVERNANCE
Anaerobic digestion is considered as one of the interesting territorial strategy in the framework
of the energy transition law for green growth. More specifically, it is the subject of a so-
called plan methanisation energy, autonomy, nitrogen which aimed to develop 1000
methanisers by 2020 (MTE, 2018). It is also part of the European Commission’s Bioeconomy
Agenda and the European Union’s “Climate and Energy Framework for Action”, committing
member countries to increase the share of renewable energy sources to 32% by 2030 (European
commission, 2014). This approach is based on operational principles and the promotion of
change and greening of the practices of the biogas stakeholders. They must pool their needs,
skills and equipment to enhance territorial resources, with the aim of relocating the supply and
consumption of local products (Song et al., 2014). Biogas should contribute to the development
of a circular economy (MTE, 2018), which aims to optimize the use of local biomass to make
material and energy flows more efficient and reduce the negative externalities of human
activities (Ghisellini et al., 2016).
Thus, transforming organic waste into local territorial resources intended for the production of
renewable energy and organic nitrogenous fertilizer (Holm-Nielsen et al., 2009) constitutes an
interesting territorial strategy for implementing circular economy principles in rural territories.
4
Indeed, it contributes to ensure local energy self-sufficiency and energy and nitrogen fertilizer
savings in these areas, making it possible to reduce diffuse pollution and greenhouse gas
emissions while generating value-creating activities and anchored jobs (Guenther-Lübbers et
al. 2016). Its local challenges also concern reducing waste management expenditures for
communities facing budgetary constraints (Bourdin & Nadou, 2020). Thus, anaerobic digestion
biogas contributes in some way to territorial development defined as the improvement of the
well-being and wealth of the stakeholders of a territory, given their relations of competition and
cooperation, their initiatives and their oppositions, and the dynamic of territorial innovations.
Thus, it does not rely solely on the productive actors or the institutions that manage them but
involves other stakeholders: local authorities, decentralized state services, consular bodies,
associations, etc. (Torre, 2019). Anaerobic digestion is also perceived, in the current context of
changes in rural areas, as a response to the territorial challenges of remobilizing local actors.
Indeed, it introduces new forms of organization and coordination in the governance of flows in
these territories characterized by a weakness of interactions between actors, which generates
incomplete innovation processes (Camagni, 1995). The stakeholders come together in a
collective effort in which farmers, industrialists, waste managers, and local authorities mobilize
resources to create a project (Reed et al., 2009), conducive to territorial development. But the
coordination of actors is not an evidence and requires the building of territorial governance
rules. Territorial governance can be defined as a process of building common frameworks to
coordinate territorial representations and strategies (individual and collective). Throughout the
process, actors interact in a confrontational and/or cooperative manner (Torre & Zuindeau,
2009) and make choices to implement territorial development projects. These choices often
involve an asymmetry of power between the stakeholders and could lead to a firm rejection of
the project. The study of territorial governance, therefore, entails both the analysis of the
dynamics of the actors' games (Fournis & Fortin, 2017) and the mechanisms and instruments
to implement them (Rey-Valette et al., 2008; Brullot et al., 2014).
Innovations in territorial anaerobic digestion projects primarily concern biotechnological
processes for the circular recovery of organic waste, which make it possible to produce and
consume renewable energy locally from the resources of the territory and to practice rational
agricultural fertilization. The innovations carried out in this framework are also organizational,
through the development of networks of actors and collaborative relationships on which the
territorial development process is strongly based (Torre & Wallet, 2016). These actor
coordination networks, while guaranteeing the durability and sustainability of the territorial
project (Reed et al., 2009), facilitate the circulation of flows, knowledge sharing, and collective
learning, as well as the mobilization of technological innovations and the management of
neighborhood conflicts (Bourdin & Nadou, 2020).
All the actors present in the project area are thus geographically close to each other and maintain
different types of organized proximity links. This proximity favours direct contact and
productive exchanges, in the sense that it facilitates interactions, mutual knowledge, and trust
(Dupuy & Torre, 2006), which are necessary for the emergence of innovations. The different
actors belong to an organization or the same territorial project, resulting from the social ties that
are created and developed, facilitates collaboration (Torre, 2014, & Torre & Rallet, 2005). It is
expressed through cooperation and the embedding of relationships (Granovetter, 1985) in
interpersonal social ties that strengthen the actors' sense of belonging while fostering mutual
trust (Hewes & Lyons, 2008). Chertow & Ehrenfeld (2012) believe that the climate of trust that
is created can renew synergistic relationships and gradually strengthen over the period of
5
evolution and development of interaction networks. In this case, the actors are in a logic of
building networks of interaction and coordination relations within which they come together,
consult each other, exchange flows, information, and skills and work together around common
challenges.
Local opposition to anaerobic digestion projects appears in many territories (Giuliano et al.,
2018). According to Bourdin et al (2019), they are linked to a lack of trust and consultation
between the stakeholders involved in their implementation. They testify to the growing need
for coordination between these multiple and heterogeneous actors. Bourdin & Nadou (2020)
consider that it is therefore relevant for certain actors to facilitate coordination by acting as
intermediaries between the stakeholders to facilitate their adhesion, the local anchoring of
projects, and the implementation of governance processes and territorial development
(Chodkowska-Miszczuk et al., 2019). Along the same lines, recent work on the governance of
rural territories (Torre & Wallet, 2016 & 2013; Winter, 2006; Marsden, 2004) testifies to the
value of collaboration and coordination of multiple actors in terms of synergy effects on
networks of relations, governance, and territorial development.
2. PRESENTATION OF THE CASE STUDY
To reduce the storage and burial of municipal waste, the Syndicat Mixte du Point Fort (SMPF)
has committed to a sustainable treatment approach by setting up an environmental waste
recovery center in 2009
2
. The Point Fort Environnement (PFE) is a public establishment
responsible for organizing selective collection, transport, operating the network of 14 waste
collection centers and recovering household waste from the SMPF's member local authorities.
Located in Cavigny, a small rural commune of 257 inhabitants, the recovery center includes a
sorting center and a biogas digester treating household and similar waste from 125 communes
in Normandy, representing 116,744 inhabitants (PFE, 2020). Figure 1 below shows the scope
of the SMPF's competencies covering all the administrative territories of the EPCIs.
Figure 1: Location of SMPF facilities and implementation area for the biogas project in
Cavigny
2
A syndicat mixte is a type of inter-municipal cooperation structure to enable local authorities to join forces with
each other or with public institutions.
6
The production process of biogas, which favors the reintroduction of energy outputs into the
production process, requires an efficient organization of stakeholders for its smooth operation.
In particular, the local actors must coordinate around issues of input mobilization, co-product
flow, risk management, and social acceptability. Indeed, the different local authorities that are
members of the SMPF, as well as non-member client local authorities, contribute to recycling
waste under agreements and public contracts with the PFE. Waste managers, professional co-
product recovery companies, and farmers who use compost are also involved in the process,
without forgetting the local State services in charge of regulatory control of Installations
Classified for Environmental Protection (ICPE), as well as an association of impacted local
residents (Boursault, 2019). Governance mobilizes different categories of actors (see Table 1)
operating at various territorial scales. It should be noted, however, that the entire biogas project
in Cavigny takes place within the jurisdiction of the joint association, under the principle of
geographical proximity to the waste production and treatment areas. This is to restrict the extent
of flow circulation and guarantee its sustainable nature.
Categories of actors
Number
Participation
2015
2019
Local authorities (members)
6
5
Waste collection
Deliberating assembly
38 elected delegates
Local authorities (non-members)
4
0
Waste input convention, public
procurement
Decision-making bodies of the SMPF
8 elected members
to the Executive
Board
Administrative and Financial
Management,
management and supervision
of technical services
dialogue and risk management
1 technical
department (the EFP)
SMPF waste treatment units
1 Biogas unit
Transport, sorting and
treatment of waste,
technical services meeting
1 sorting centre
14 waste disposal
sites
Co-product professionals
(Customers)
1 company
Electricity distribution
1 company
Compost distribution
Farmers
Use of compost
Deconcentrated services of the State
4
4
Regulatory monitoring
dialogue and risk management
Local residents' association
1
Concertation and risk
management
Table 1: Biogas stakeholders in Cavigny and their participation in the project
The study of the project makes it possible to distinguish both 1) practices and flows of
exchanges of materials and energy (waste, electricity and compost) and 2) communication
relationships between the stakeholders in the anaerobic digestion project. The latter is carried
out through cooperation and consultation, at the deliberative assemblies of the member
authorities, at more or less formal meetings and contacts, and the regulatory meetings of the
site monitoring commission. These interactions make possible exchange of materials and
energy and the sharing of information.
7
The site monitoring commission represents an essential framework for exchange and
information on risk management (BECP, 2019). It involves, in addition to non-member local
authorities and co-product recovery companies, all the stakeholders involved in the project,
including an association of local citizens. The latter also consult periodically with those in
charge of the treatment facilities, particularly about externalities, especially those related to
odors and rolling stock circulation. The participation mechanism involves a relational structure
of actors using consultation and contractualization as local governance mechanisms.
3. METHODOLOGY FOR ANALYSING THE TERRITORIAL GOVERNANCE OF
ANAEROBIC DIGESTION PROJECT
Our analysis of synergy and cooperation between the stakeholders of the biogas project in
Cavigny is based on a social network analysis approach applied to territorial innovation systems
and governance. This approach makes it possible to identify and quantify the types of
relationships that exist between stakeholders, to characterize their influence, and to observe the
evolution over time of the social networks they form (Ter Wal & Boschma, 2009). Thanks to
this method, we can describe the relational network of local stakeholders that characterizes the
types of exchanges within the biogas project, its main features, but also to assess its evolution
and changes over the implementation and development periods. We also look at thenetwork of
material flows to compare its evolution with that of the social network and to evaluate their
reciprocal influences. Based on the example of biogas, our network approach converges with
the industrial symbiosis results by highlighting the importance of the intermediary actors that
structure the system and promote productive exchanges (Wall & Paquin, 2015), while raising
the question of the place of communication flows in the urban metabolism analyses (Rosado et
al., 2014).
The objective is to carry out, based on primary and secondary relational data, an analysis of
material and energy exchange networks, as well as governance and communication networks
over the periods 2010, 2015, and 2019. The choice of these periods of analysis was based on
the study of the chronicle of events that have marked the local context of biogas development
(see Boursault, 2019). While the year 2010 corresponds to the start of biogas activities, 2015 is
marked by the implementation of the law NOTRE (New Territorial Organization of the
Republic) which has led to mergers and integrations of local authorities throughout the national
territory that will strongly impact the local biogas system (Bourdin & Torre, 2020). Finally,
2019 is characterized by the SMPF's desire to diversify its input to optimize its installations and
to respond to the drop in household waste tonnages linked to the introduction of a separate
collection of bio-waste.
To better understand the scope of the flows and identify and categorize the actors involved in
the project (see Table 1), we conducted an exploratory interview with the SMPF management
team beforehand. This method enabled us to apply the "roster-recall" approach recommended
by Ter Wal & Boschma (2009), to draw up the list of stakeholders and select their
representatives to be interviewed while ensuring the representativeness of the stakeholders and
types of exchanges.
The collection of primary data on interaction relationships required 27 semi-directive
interviews with representatives of the organizations and structures involved in the innovation
and governance dynamics of the process (see Annex 1 for details of the interviews). For the
data from the temporal dynamic analysis of interaction relations between 2010 and 2015, we
applied the methodology for reconstructing the network's history (Grossetti et al., 2011),
8
interviewing former SMPF managers and employees who had been present since the beginning
of the project. An interview guide developed for this purpose was designed to collect
quantitative and qualitative relational information from the interviewees.
The primary data corresponding to each type of exchange was supplemented by secondary
contextual data (Sousa, 2012) on the anaerobic digestion project. We then processed using ARS
software (NetDraw and Ucinet), allowing the networks to be represented graphically for visual
analysis of the graphs (Card et al., 1999), and statistical measurements reflecting the local and
global properties of the networks (Wasserman & Faust, 1994).
With this method, we measured the link density index and detected the presence or absence of
cohesive subgroups (n-clicks) in interactions as typical indicators of the structural properties of
networks. This approach is complemented using degree centrality indicators (closeness and
betweenness) that allow the analysis of the individual characteristics of position and importance
of actors in the interaction relationships. More specifically, the indicators used are as follows.
- The link density is an overall measure of network structure, ranging from 0 to 1, relating the
number of relationships maintained by actors to the number of possible connections. The higher
the density, the greater the trust between actors and the group cohesion in interactions. A low-
density value, close to 0, therefore reveals the low potential for synergistic relationships within
the network.
- The n-clicks (Borgatti, 2002), expressed as the number of sub-groups observable within the
network, make it possible to identify cohesive groups of actors who are strongly linked to each
other, as well as the potential relay actors (intermediaries). They provide the link between the
sub-groups. The presence of many n-clicks implies a weakness of relations between actors,
resulting in a non-cohesive network. In contrast, a limited number of n-clicks is synonymous
with solidarity, social control and information circulation.
- The degree of centrality (Freeman 1979), measured by the number of links involving an actor,
makes it possible to highlight the central actors in the interaction network. They possess the
most significant number of relationships. The higher an actor's degree value, the more central
and active he is in the network, playing an essential role in the circulation of flows (Wasserman
& Faust, 1994).
- The betweenness centrality (Newman, 2003), highlights, among the central actors with high
values, those who act as intermediaries in the interaction relationships. The more a player is
associated with a high value of this indicator, the more it occupies an intermediary position of
within the network, by linking the other players and by facilitating the circulation of flows of
information, knowledge and collective learning, particularly between cohesive subgroups
(Diani, 2003).
- The Closeness centrality (Sabidussi, 1966) makes it possible to highlight the peripheral actors
of the network, who maintain fewer relationships. The higher the value of this indicator for an
actor, the less important it is in the structure of the interaction network.
4. NETWORKS OF ANAEROBIC DIGESTION STAKEHOLDERS
Interviews with the project stakeholders made it possible to identify the modalities of
productive and territorial partnerships between local authorities producing waste, public and
private companies, waste and co-product managers, specialized public support services, and
local population (see Table 1). Indeed, the anaerobic digestion project in Cavigny seeks to
9
optimize the local recovery of household and similar waste. It implements a productive
partnership between local actors exchanging materials and energy and also involves relations
of coordination and governance of the flows and risks associated with the project. These
partnerships (which bring together the actors within two networks) correspond to (i) exchanges
of material and energy flow taking place in the formal relations of belonging to SMPF and
informal relations with customers and (ii) interactions between participants in terms of
exchange of information in a collaborative context'.
Based on the data collection, we have developed two categories of graphs representing the
social networks of cooperation and interaction, analyzed separately in their dynamics of
evolution and development in 2010, 2015, and 2019. The first graph corresponds to the relations
of exchanges of materials and energy between local authorities (members and non-members)
establishments of the waste management project holder, companies and farmers specialized in
the recovery of co-products (Figure 2). The latter correspond to the graphs of the
communication network that mobilizes the local population and the technical services of the
State within the framework of the shared and concerted regulatory governance of anaerobic
digestion flows (Figure 5). They involve only certain actors participating in the exchanges of
materials and energy, in particular, the local authorities and the management bodies of the joint
association.
4.1. The network of exchange of material and energy flows
Analysis of the graphs of material and energy exchange relations (Figure 2) shows that each of
the actors is in a direct relationship of sharing inputs (waste) or co-products (heat, electricity,
and compost) with at least two other stakeholders in productive partnerships. The exchanges
are structured around the central actors, consisting of the technical department (PFE), the waste
treatment plants (UT1, UT2, UT3), and the project leader (SMPF), who interact more or less
with all the other peripheral actors. The local authorities that are members of the SMPF are very
strongly connected to the network by the importance of waste exchanges with all the central
actors. On the other hand, the non-member local authorities (which establish commercial
relations for the supply and treatment of their waste) and the client companies distributing the
co-products (EnrP1 and EnrP2) have few ties with the whole set of actors. Given their low level
of direct exchanges with the waste treatment plants through agreements and public contracts
with the FEP, they can be considered, alongside the farmer's final customers of compost
(AgrP1), among the peripheral players with little or no relations with the other participants.
The number of actors participating in the productive exchange network decreases over time,
going from 15 member and non-member local authorities to 5 member local authorities between
2010 and 2019. This phenomenon is linked to the desire of the SMPF to encourage the taking
of competence treatment of household waste by the communities of communes and
agglomeration communities, which are slightly replacing the communes. Following the
territorial reform of August 2015, the NOTRe law (Bourdin & Torre, 2020), this competence
becomes mandatory for these EPCI. As a result, at the local level, in January 2017, the
Département de la Manche (NUTS 3 level) ended up with only 8 EPCI, 5 of which are currently
members of the SMPF.
10
2010 2015 2019
Density 0.576
Nber of clicks 266
2 2-clicks
Density 0.441
Nber of links 120
2 2-clicks
Density 0.652
Nber of links : 86
2 2-clicks
Decision-making bodies and waste treatment plants local authorities
Farmers compost customers Co-product client companies
Figure 2: Structural characteristics of the material and energy exchange network
Legend: the nodes of the networks represent the actors, the arcs their relations, the shape of the nodes corresponds
to the actors' scales of action (the circle at the local level, the triangle at the NUTS-3 level, and the square at the
national level). The size of the nodes represents the number of relationships involving an actor in proportion to its
degree centrality value.
The measurement of relationships reveals that the network is dense, as shown by the very high-
density indices, which represent, over the development period, more than half of the possible
combinations of relationships between actors. Indeed, if we see in 2015 a decrease in this
proportion of productive exchange relations between the actors, it then increases to become
denser again at the end of the period (in 2019).
In terms of individual influence in productive interactions, the measurement of centrality
indices shows that the players' positioning has not changed throughout evolution and
development of the network, between 2010 and 2019 (see Appendix 2).
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
EPCI1
EPCI2
EPCI3
EPCI4
EPCI5
EPCI6
EPCI7
EPCI8
EPCI9
EPCI10
CA2
CA3
CNA1
CNA2
CNA3
CNA4
PFE
UT1
UT2
UT3
EntrP1
AgrP1
EntrP2
Betweenness centrality
2010 2015 2019
11
Figure 3: Measuring the influence of actors in the material and energy exchange
network
Legend: Figures 3 and 5 present the indices of centrality of intermediation (betweeness) and proximity (closeness),
characteristic of the positions and importance of the actors in the network structures. In terms of intermediarity,
the higher the value of this index, the more the actor is associated with it. The more he is positioned as a relay
intermediary with the most control over exchanges and interactions. Whereas actors with high values of proximity
centrality have a lower importance in the networks of relations, and on the contrary, the lower this value, the more
central the actor is and the easier it is to interact.
The PFE and the waste treatment plants (UT2) are mentioned by the participants as the central
actors with the most relationships in the anaerobic digestion production process (see Figure 2).
In charge of coordinating the operational implementation at all levels of the biogas project, the
PFE, together with the waste treatment plants, is the main intermediate player in the materials
and energy exchange network, as shown by its high value of centrality of intermediation (see
Figure 3). The waste collection centres owe this dominant position because (i) they organize
the transport of waste to the anaerobic digester digester, (ii) the relations they maintain directly
as relay collection points, downstream, with the farmers who come to recover part of the
compost. The stakeholders who participate the least in these exchanges of materials and energy
are the SMPF's customer partners, particularly non-member local authorities that bring waste,
and the companies that are customers of the co-products. Characterized by limited exchange
relationships (low degree of centrality) and higher proximity centrality values (see Figure 3),
these participants only interact with the network through relay actors.
4.2. The exchange network in terms of communication
The network of communication relations corresponds to the governance mechanism of the
territorial biogas project; it allows the dissemination of information and knowledge, gives the
possibility to the local populations to participate in its management, and lessen neighborhood
conflicts. The exchanges and interactions described here take place through face-to-face
dialogue and consultation at the deliberative assemblies of the SMPF, more or less formal
meetings and contacts, and at the regulatory meetings of the site monitoring commission.
This communication network takes a different form from that of the material and energy flows,
It was slightly denser during the first years of project implementation (see Figure 4). Still, the
communication interactions have stabilized at the same density level since 2015, while the
relations of productive exchanges of materials and energy became denser in 2019.
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
Closeness centrality
2010 2015 2019
12
2010 2015 2019
Density 0.681
Nber of clicks 286
2 2- clicks
Density 0.648
Nber of clicks 136
2 2- clicks
Density 0.648
Nber of clicks 118
2 2- clicks
Decision-making bodies and waste treatment plants Local authorities
Deconcentrated government services Residents' Association
Figure 4: Structural characteristics of the exchange network in terms of communication
Legend: the nodes of the networks represent the actors, the arcs their relations, the shape of the nodes corresponds
to the actors' scales of action (the circle at the local level, the triangle at the NUTS2 level, and the square at the
national level). The size of the nodes represents the number of relationships involving an actor in proportion to its
degree centrality value.
Only two cohesive subgroups
3
(2, 2 cliques) interact with each other during the evolution and
development of the project. The first is composed of the members of the site monitoring
commission involving the decision-making bodies of the project owner (SMPF), the Cavigny
town council, and the State technical services and the local residents' association in the
framework of the regulatory monitoring of the biogas project. The second brings together these
players and the local authorities that are members of the SMPF, which are waste suppliers. Only
one public stakeholder, SE4 (ADEME) participates in the first cohesive sub-group without
being a member of this commission: ADEME (French Agency of Environment and Energy).
This institutional structure plays an essential role in developing anaerobic digestion in France,
and communicates with the stakeholders through the other deconcentrated State services.
ADEME does not support the present biogas project. At the scale of the value chain of the
biogas production network, the two cohesive sub-groups overlap and are composed of almost
the same people and all the actors, from upstream to downstream of the biogas project: local
authorities supplying waste, professionals of the valorization of the by-products (except the
electricity customer company and the farmers using compost who each participate separately
in a single sub-group), decision making bodies and treatment establishments of the project
leader, waste managers.
This governance mechanism is organized around central stakeholders with high degree values
(see Figure 4 and Annex 3 for details). Among them, the PFE (participating in the exchanges
of materials and energy) and the executive board of the SMPF, both carrying the biogas project,
are established as relay actors with higher values of centrality of intermediation (Figure 5)
alongside the Cavigny town hall.
3
A cohesive subgroup is a subset of actors who are more connected to each other than to the rest of the network,
whereby an actor can participate in several cohesive subgroups at the same time. They can be identified in terms
of the number of subgroups (n-clicks, with n=2) (Borgatti, 2002).
13
Figure 5: Measuring the influence of actors in the exchange network in terms of
communication
Cavigny town hall represented by its mayor is the only community at the center of the
operational and regulatory governance of biogas. It is involved in thinking about mobilizing
inputs, product disposal, risk management, and local social acceptability. Its central role is
reinforced by its position as an ex-officio member of the site monitoring commission, for having
hosted the biogas installations. The local authorities involved in the project delegate their
functions to the SMPF, the public establishment that is the project leader, which manages their
waste. These authorities provide exchange of materials and energy. They also participate in
dialogue and consultation through their delegates on the trade union committee and the elected
members of the executive board (SMPF) who represent them at the deliberative assembly and
on the monitoring committees.
5. WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR THE TERRITORIAL GOVERNANCE OF
ANAEROBIC DIGESTION?
Our analysis of the networks of stakeholders in the Cavigny biogas project, first in terms of
material and energy exchanges and then in terms of communication relations, led us to identify
dense relational structures conducive to stakeholder cooperation and coordination and to
analyze how they relate to material flows. The high density of all the networks is indicative of
0
5
10
15
20
Betweenness centrality
2010 2015 2019
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
Closeness centrality
2010 2015 2019
14
the strong group cohesion in the exchanges of biogas flows. Close professional relations
between actors 'facilitate the circulation of flows and the success of the territorial anaerobic
digestion biogas project (Bourdin & Nadou, 2020). The presence in the networks of only two
interdependent cohesive sub-groups confirms the stakeholders' sense of belonging to the same
project. Indeed, a limited number of subgroups is synonymous with solidarity and the
circulation of information and knowledge that strengthen social ties and facilitate collaboration
(Borgatti, 2002). This logic of belonging, linked to the geographical proximity of the actors,
enables the construction and consolidation of relational networks and the cohesion of the
network as a whole.
The results also reveal the importance of intermediation in developing interactions (Torre,
2014; Bourdin & Nadou, 2020). The intermediary actors (the PFE, the SMPF, and the Cavigny
town hall) maintain more or less strong communication relations with all the other stakeholders,
including those who participate the least in the interactions. Their role is all the more critical in
the productive and territorial interactions as they guarantee the efficient mobilization of material
resources to make the anaerobic digestion plant profitable (Wellinger et al., 2013) prevent any
conflicts or oppositions that may emerge. Thus, by ensuring the strategic coordination role of
the biogas project, they make communication, sharing of material and energy flows, as well as
the dissemination of information, knowledge, and collective learning possible (Wall & Paquin,
2015). They also foster the emergence and maintenance of trust relationships, often considered
as a decisive condition for the success of territorial renewable energy projects (Walker et al.,
2010 ; Bourdin et al., 2019), and industrial and territorial synergies between companies (Paquin
& Howard-Grenville, 2012). Our results confirm the results about the social acceptability of
wind energy projects (Devine-Wrigh, 2012), the synergy networks in industrial and territorial
ecology (Paquin & Howard-Grenville, 2012) or the role played by local authorities about the
development of biogas projects (Bourdin & Nadou, 2020).
However, this approach raises a question about the reproducibility and generalization of the
governance mode studied: each anaerobic digestion biogas project is specific to its territory and
its stakeholders, and transposition cannot be free of local realities of implementation (Asthon
& Bain, 2012). Beyond mobilizing inputs (local biomass), the territorial context should
encourage the interplay of stakeholders and the interactions. The multi-actor nature of the
network structure is not in itself a hindrance to the development of the biogas project but instead
enlarges the opportunities to activate the links between the actors. It reveals the influence of
geographical proximity in production partnerships and the participation of local authorities and
populations, which ensures the sustainability of the process. However, the collective action that
emerges is essentially based on the feeling of actors to belong to the same networks. It is also
basedon the sharing of similar references concerning environmental values of anaerobic
digestion. It also results from the integration of conflicting potentialities and the intermediaries'
role that structure the system and promote interactions through moments of exchange and
sharing of information. The challenge is to succeed in maintaining these modes of territorial
governance, which guarantee the effective mobilization of energy and communication flows
for the success of the project and the valorization of local biomass (Wellinger et al., 2013), in
the hope of reinforcing the emerging dynamics of cooperation and to avoid conflicts.
15
CONCLUSION
Today considered as one of the interesting territorial strategies for implementing the ecological
and energy transition, biogas relies for its success on the synergies between public and private
actors working together around shared challenges at a local scale. In this context, it is interesting
to evaluate the role of the interplay between actors and their governance to highlight their
possible contribution to the processes of innovation and sustainable territorial development.
The article contributes to identify and characterize, from a network approach, the links existing
between the actors of the biogas project to report on the structure of interactions in the territory.
It is based on the analysis of the multi-stakeholder interaction relationships built and developed
in a collaborative environment between the stakeholders of the territorial anaerobic digestion
project of the SMPF in Cavigny.
The results show the coexistence of two synergy networks, which correspond to material and
energy flow exchange relations and communication relations. They make it possible to account
for a relational context favorable to the cooperation and coordination of players as the biogas
project evolves and develops over time. The climate of trust between stakeholders was created
from the start of the project, then gradually strengthened within the networks, confirming that
trust and collective action may take several years to build (Chertow & Ehrenfeld, 2012).
One can wonder about the role played by these new territorial dynamics in the processes of
territorial development. Our social networks approach has allowed us to identify and discuss
the conditions of success and governance of biogas projects. Still, it is indeed challenging to
apply to spatial and territorial issues. It is necessary to go beyond the light it sheds on the
problems of coordination between actors and governance and find new ways to focus on the
emergence of new viable and sustainable projects compatible with a territorial development of
anaerobic digestion biogas.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors would like to thank the Syndicat Mixte du Point Fort (SMPF) and the people and
structures that agreed to collaborate to this research. Our warmest thanks go to Emma
BOURSAULT for conducting the interviews and collecting the data that made this work
possible. This research has been funded by ADEME and PSDR programmes.
16
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20
ANNEX 1 : INTERVIEW DETAILS
Categories of
actors
Structure/Organisation
Ref.
Number of
interviews/Function
Date of
interview
Project leader
Executive committee
SMPF
(1) President
(1) Former President
(3) Vice-presidents
12/06/2019
04/06/2019
12/06/2019
Technical direction
PFE
(1) Director
(1) Deputy director
(1) Head of communication
05/04/2019
03/06/2019
Biogas plant
UT1
(1) Director
Waste disposal sites
UT2
(1) Director
Sorting plants
UT3
(1) Director
Local
authorities
Saint- Agglo
EPCI1
(1) Mayor
20/05/2019
Coutances Mer et Bocage
EPCI2
(1) President of the local
authorities assembly
12/06/2019
Baie du Cotentin
EPCI3
(1) Mayor
06/06/2019
Villedieu Intercom
EPCI4
(1) Mayor
25/05/2019
Côte Ouest Centre Manche
EPCI5
(1) Mayor
06/06/2019
Cavigny town hall
CA1
(1) Mayor
17/06/2019
Co-product
recovery
professionals
Customer company compost
EntrP1
(1) Sales manager
03/06/2019
Electricity customer
company
EntrP2
(1) Sales manager
03/06/2019
Farmers using compost
AgrP1
(3) Heads of holdings
10/06/2019
Government/Sta
te services
Préfecture de la Manche
SE1
(1) Waste project manager
13/06/2019
DREAL
SE2
(1) Inspector
05/06/2019
ARS
SE3
(1) Former inspector
13/06/2019
ADEME
SE4
(1) Engineer
13/06/2019
Residents
Association « Vivre au pays
de Daye »
Asso
(1) President
17/06/2019
21
ANNEX 2: MEASURES OF CENTRALITIES IN THE MATERIAL AND ENERGY
EXCHANGE NETWORK
Degree
Closeness
Betweeness
2010
2015
2019
2015
2019
2010
2015
2019
EPCI1
15
9
8
23
14
0
0
0
EPCI2
15
9
8
23
14
0
0
0
EPCI3
15
9
8
23
14
0
0
0
EPCI4
15
9
8
23
14
0
0
0
EPCI5
15
9
8
23
14
0
0
0
EPCI6
15
9
0
23
0
0
0
0
EPCI7
15
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
EPCI8
15
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
EPCI9
15
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
EPCI10
15
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
CA2
15
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
CA3
15
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
CNA1
2
2
0
30
0
0
0
0
CNA2
2
2
0
30
0
0
0
0
CNA3
2
2
0
30
0
0
0
0
CNA4
0
2
0
30
0
0
0
0
PFE
20
15
10
17
12
39
32
6,5
UT1
17
11
10
21
12
12
7,33
6,5
UT2
20
15
10
17
12
45
35,83
9,5
UT3
15
9
8
23
14
0
0
0
EntrP1
4
4
4
28
18
1,5
1,5
1,5
AgrP1
2
2
2
31
21
0
0
0
EntrP2
2
2
2
31
21
0
0
0
22
APPENDIX 3: MEASURES OF CENTRALITIES IN THE NETWORK OF
COMMUNICATION RELATIONSHIPS
Degree
Closeness
Betweeness
2010
2015
2019
2010
2015
2019
2010
2015
2019
EPCI1
15
9
8
26
20
19
0
0
0
EPCI2
15
9
8
26
20
19
0
0
0
EPCI3
15
9
8
26
20
19
0
0
0
EPCI4
15
9
8
26
20
19
0
0
0
EPCI5
15
9
8
26
20
19
0
0
0
EPCI6
15
9
0
26
20
0
0
0
0
EPCI7
15
0
0
26
0
0
0
0
0
EPCI8
15
0
0
26
0
0
0
0
0
EPCI9
15
0
0
26
0
0
0
0
0
EPCI10
15
0
0
26
0
0
0
0
0
CA1
19
13
12
21
15
14
18
9,2
7,7
CA2
15
0
0
26
0
0
0
0
0
CA3
15
0
0
26
0
0
0
0
0
BE-SMPF
19
13
12
21
15
14
18
9,2
7,7
PFE
19
13
12
21
15
14
18
9,2
7,7
UT1
17
11
10
23
17
16
7,2
3,6
3
SE1
8
8
8
32
20
18
7,5
5,1
4,7
SE2
7
7
7
33
21
19
4,9
3,1
2,8
SE3
7
7
7
33
21
19
4,9
3,1
2,8
SE4
3
3
3
49
21
28
0
0
0
Asso
7
7
7
33
31
19
0,4
0,4
0,4
... Most of the studies belong to hard sciences, followed by the economic ones, the social-psychological and others (Fig. 3). In some cases, non-academic organisations were involved in the studies: governmental research centres [33,36,[49][50][51][52][53][54][55][56][57], private companies [37,53,58,59] and non-profit organisations [23,53,60,61]. ...
... Trust is the most cited factor amongst those affecting acceptance [14,20,22,54,61,67,68]. In this regard, Zemo et al. [22] highlighted the difference between small-and large-scale biogas plants. ...
... Such inclusion should be fair [63]. The involvement of stakeholders should be since an early stage of the project and should include experts from different fields [63] as well as residents [14,15,19,67] in order to improve communication amongst stakeholders [54]. Niang et al. [54] highlighted the importance of intermediation for the creation of strong relationships amongst the participants of an AD network and the role of geographical proximity in generating partnerships. ...
Article
Social acceptance is considered the main non-technical barrier to the development of bioenergy projects. This paper presents the results of a systematic literature review aimed to cover a lack in state-of-the-art literature about socio-cultural factors affecting the acceptance of biogas projects at a global scale. Moreover, this study is aimed at identifying which methods are used for studying this phenomenon, with a focus on the Life Cycle Thinking-oriented ones. Journal articles and conference proceedings were considered. At the end of the screening phases, 54 documents were selected and reviewed. The results showed that acceptance concerns two main issues: biogas plants and its presence in a given location and digestate application on fields. This review showed different results between high-income and low-middle-income countries. As regards the former, trust was the most mentioned socio-cultural factor. Education, as well as women's living conditions were considered important in the latter. However, a contextualisation of every outcome based on local peculiarities is needed in order to understand in a better way the accepting/refuting phenomena of the projects. As regards the second objective of this study, Life Cycle Analysis resulted the most widespread Life Cycle Thinking methodology. In conclusion, the outcomes of this work may be useful to identify the non-technical factors and the most suitable approach that should be considered for a successful implementation of site-specific biogas projects.
... In this context, social acceptance is a decisive factor in designing and deploying new technologies aiming to disrupt conventional energy production processes and create new paths [6,34]. The concept of social acceptance has been found to be a significant factor when investigating various RES forms, especially in the cases of wind energy [29,52] and bioenergy [51,53,54]. Effective cooperation between different stakeholders is vital for achieving higher levels of social acceptance and, therefore, successful implementation and long-term sustainability of new paths [55]. ...
... However, social acceptance in rural areas seems not to be so easily affected, as expected from previous studies [58,62,79]. Some additional outcomes related to territorial characteristics have shown that quality of governance matters for social acceptance of agrobiomass in heating, which is in line with the findings of previous studies [23,54,77]. ...
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Energy transition is characterised by processes referring to new path creation. These new paths are formed based on existing or novel resources that are often closely related to the social aspect. Hence, social acceptance and new path creation can be considered as mutually reinforcing processes that are crucial in energy transition. The study focuses on the use of agricultural biomass (or “agrobiomass”) as a renewable energy source for heating and tries to investigate the interaction between resource formation processes during path creation, referring to knowledge creation, market formation, investment mobilization and technology legitimation, and social acceptance. A web-based survey with a sample size of 3,725 convenience-based responses from 22 European countries is used to generate the primary data for analysis. Two levels of social acceptance are used, focusing on the overall perceptions and the intention to install agrobiomass heating systems locally. Results indicate that knowledge creation acts as a booster for overall perceptions through awareness and public information, whilst existing knowledge and previous experience can increase the willingness to install agrobiomass heating systems. Regarding market formation, social acceptance is empowered by sourcing agrobiomass and technology through local farmers and manufacturers. Cost savings and positive local impacts are significant investment mobilization aspects, whereas agrobiomass initiatives supported by trusted organizations and/or companies act as significant technology legitimation channels for promoting social acceptance. Small variations exist between urban and rural areas showing that the territorial context matters. The study provides policy insights relevant to energy transition through the uptake of agrobiomass heating solutions.
... It is interesting to evaluate the effectiveness of this mechanism in terms of territorial governance and to highlight the measures by which actors of different natures (producers, associations, individuals, representatives of public authorities or local communities, etc.) contribute to the elaboration, sometimes concerted, sometimes conflicting, of common territorial development projects (Torre and Traversac, 2011). Recently mobilized in the example of AD in Cavigny (Niang et al., 2021), the social network tool is here coupled with an analysis of proximities (geographical and organized) to provide a better understanding of the governance associated with the structuring of productive and social interactions. Our approach is in line with some of the work conducted on innovation dynamics in the dairy sector (Torre et al., 2019;Pachoud et al., 2019), the evaluation of farmers' collective agroecological practices (Houdart et al., 2011), local governance and rural development arrangements (Polge and Torre, 2017), and the importance of governance arrangements for the implementation of circular economy strategies in territories (Jambou, 2018). ...
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Anaerobic digestion has recently gained interest in contributing to territorial strategy regarding the deployment of the circular economy and energy transition. Most projects bring together multiple actors from a wide variety of backgrounds. The article analyzes the evolution of synergies and cooperative behaviors between local stakeholders over the period 2010–2020 in an anaerobic digestion cluster in France. The study draws on social network analysis and proximity theory, which have recently been used for analyzing regional innovation systems, local clusters, territorial governance, and rural development. We reveal that local stakeholders develop dense relational networks that vary and evolve throughout the project. Different groups exist and behave in a semi-autonomous manner. All the actors are located in close geographical proximity. Still, their links in terms of organized proximities are related to various types of relations, resulting from cognitive resemblances or common origins. This explains the persistence and resilience of local relationships and how they maintain a collaborative dynamic over time.
... It is interesting to evaluate the effectiveness of this mechanism in terms of territorial governance and to highlight the measures by which actors of different natures (producers, associations, individuals, representatives of public authorities or local communities, etc.) contribute to the elaboration, sometimes concerted, sometimes conflicting, of common territorial development projects (Torre & Traversac, 2011). Recently mobilised in the example of AD in Cavigny (Niang et al., 2021), the social network tool was here coupled with an analysis of proximities (geographical and organized), providing a better understanding of the governance associated with the structuring of productive and social interactions. Our approach is in line with some of the work conducted on innovation dynamics in the dairy sector (Torre et al., 2019;Pachoud et al., 2019), the evaluation of collective agroecological practices of farmers (Houdart et al., 2011), local governance and rural development arrangements (Polge & Torre, 2017) and the importance of governance arrangements for the implementation of circular economy strategies in territories (Jambou, 2018). ...
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Anaerobic digestion has recently gained interest in contributing to territorial strategy regarding the deployment of the circular economy and energy transition. Most projects bring together multiple actors from a wide variety of backgrounds. The article analyzes the evolution of synergies and cooperative behaviors between local stakeholders over the period 2010-2020 in an anaerobic digestion cluster in France. The study draws on social network analysis and proximity theory, which have recently been used for analyzing regional innovation systems, local clusters, territorial governance, and rural development. We reveal that local stakeholders develop dense relational networks that vary and evolve throughout the project. Different groups exist and behave in a semi-autonomous manner. All the actors are located in close geographical proximity. Still, their links in terms of organized proximities are related to various types of relations, resulting from cognitive resemblances or common origins. This explains the persistence and resilience of local relationships and how they maintain a collaborative dynamic over time.
... In the same way, these values and worldview, are what make a certain type of institutions (rules of the game) and coordination mechanisms between actors based on reciprocity, trust, recognition, and acceptance of grass-root knowledge (for example, a tacit character and based on the experience of the others) [13,36]. This then causes a type of embeddedness [39] and an organized (cognitive, organizational, and institutional) proximity between actors [20,21,40], which constitutes an essential condition for cooperation between actors so they can introduce innovations in industrial ecology (the use of waste from some productive activities as inputs to others, as occurs in natural ecosystems) [13,41,42]. ...
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In the last few lustrums, the literature has searched for more precise methods to assess the socio-economic importance of the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE). On that basis, this article offers a new way of assessing the SSE impact, enhancing the understanding of the SSE potential for socio-economic transformation. An evolutionary micro–meso–macro and territorial theoretical framework is developed, utilizing, along with the assistance of a qualitative methodology, studies on the transformation promoted by the SSE on the sugar cane cluster of Veracruz (Mexico). The main results of the article are that the SSE boost beneficiaries, while the protagonists of the transformation cannot be defined a priori, but are rather conformed by transformation vectors promoted by the SSE: their values shared by a wide spectrum of actors, the SSE socio-economic and organizational specificities, and their rooting in the productive system. The fundamental conclusion of the article is the need for a “territorial-driven approach” of the SSE’s impact, compared to the dominant “stakeholder-driven approach”. The main limitations (and suggestions for future studies) are the empirical investigation of a single case, and the need to develop a qualitative and quantitative system of indicators of the transformative drive of SSE.
... "Social responsibility is an incentive to act together among actors in the supply chain to create additional revenue and benefits" (Sudarto et al., 2016, p. 30). Consequently, CSR measures are also associated with developing (7) multi-stakeholder collaborations, such as cooperation with governmental or non-governmental organisations, and involving customers or the local community (Boons and Spekkink, 2012;Niang et al., 2021). Symbiotic collaborations not only affect public relations and an organisation's reputation; they also have a reinforcing effect on organisational and societal transformation, as they require an open and reflective innovation and decision-making processes and at the same time create promoters for a circular economy (Hosseini-Motlagh et al., 2020;Inigo and Blok, 2019;Rovanto and Bask, 2021). ...
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The circular economy concept has been promoted as a response to increasing resource scarcity and as a driver of the transition towards a more sustainable economic system. The predominant focus of most circular economy-related approaches is, however, within the environmental and economic dimension, whereas social aspects, such as labour practices, human rights or community well-being, have only been peripherally and sporadically integrated into the circular economy concept. To achieve a truly sustainable alternative to the current economic system, a more balanced integration of the social sustainability dimension is essential. This study addressed this gap by thoroughly investigating the social dimension of sustainability as part of the circular economy concept by means of a two-step research design. Based on a systematic literature review of peer-reviewed English language research papers, interrelations of the identified social aspects were explored through causal loop modelling, mapping the extant intellectual territory at the intersection of social sustainability and circular economy. By identifying both overarching and actor-specific social aspects, this paper laid the groundwork for a clearer conceptual integration of the social dimension into the circular economy. Thereby, the problem of scattered coverage of social issues was highlighted, and collaboration was identified as main facilitator of a circular economy. Education, participation and legislative support emerged as central leverage points for the transformation towards a sustainable circular economy. Given the blurred boundaries between often-used social, economic and environmental indicators, more de facto social factors, beyond those closely related to economic or ecological factors, should be considered, and a stronger normative stance in future research is encouraged.
... "Social responsibility is an incentive to act together among actors in the supply chain to create additional revenue and benefits" (Sudarto et al., 2016, p. 30). Consequently, CSR measures are also associated with developing (7) multi-stakeholder collaborations, such as cooperation with governmental or non-governmental organisations, and involving customers or the local community (Boons and Spekkink, 2012;Niang et al., 2021). Symbiotic collaborations not only affect public relations and an organisation's reputation; they also have a reinforcing effect on organisational and societal transformation, as they require an open and reflective innovation and decision-making processes and at the same time create promoters for a circular economy (Hosseini-Motlagh et al., 2020;Inigo and Blok, 2019;Rovanto and Bask, 2021). ...
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Preprint
The circular economy concept has been promoted as a response to increasing resource scarcity and as a driver of the transition towards a more sustainable economic system. The predominant focus of most circular economy-related approaches is, however, within the environmental and economic dimension, whereas social aspects, such as labour practices, human rights or community well-being, have only been peripherally and sporadically integrated into the circular economy concept. To achieve a truly sustainable alternative to the current economic system, a more balanced integration of the social sustainability dimension is essential. This study addressed this gap by thoroughly investigating the social dimension of sustainability as part of the circular economy concept by means of a two-step research design. Based on a systematic literature review of peer-reviewed English language research papers, interrelations of the identified social aspects were explored through causal loop modelling, mapping the extant intellectual territory at the intersection of social sustainability and circular economy. By identifying both overarching and actor-specific social aspects, this paper laid the groundwork for a clearer conceptual integration of the social dimension into the circular economy. Thereby, the problem of scattered coverage of social issues was highlighted, and collaboration was identified as main facilitator of a circular economy. Education, participation and legislative support emerged as central leverage points for the transformation towards a sustainable circular economy. Given the blurred boundaries between often-used social, economic and environmental indicators, more de facto social factors, beyond those closely related to economic or ecological factors, should be considered, and a stronger normative stance in future research is encouraged.
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Thesis
L’économie circulaire se présente comme un nouveau modèle économique permettant de faire face aux défis actuels du système économique linéaire. Aujourd’hui reprise dans plusieurs pays comme un levier d’évolution des pratiques et des modèles de développement économique, ses démarches sont de plus en plus expérimentées dans les territoires, dans un contexte de transition socioécologique et énergétique. L’objectif de la thèse est de déterminer dans quelle mesure l’économie circulaire peut constituer, par son caractère innovant, une opportunité pour les territoires de mettre en oeuvre des processus de développement territorial. Le cadre d’analyse mobilise différentes théories et méthodes quantitatives et qualitatives dans le but de mieux comprendre les implications de l’ancrage territorial et l’importance des dispositifs de gouvernance pour la mise en place des stratégies d'économie circulaire sur les territoires. Les résultats montrent une croissance locale de l’économie circulaire, en phase avec les enjeux de plus en plus importants en termes de politiques publiques en faveur de l’emploi et de compétitivité de l’économie. Ils indiquent que le défi actuel n’est pas seulement une question d’innovations technologiques autour de l’efficience des ressources et de la création de valeur, mais aussi d’hybridation des actions et de capacité à faire coopérer des parties prenantes variées pour la mise en oeuvre d’externalités territoriales positives. L’exemple de la méthanisation permet de mettre en évidence le rôle du contexte local dans la capacité à générer ces activités nouvelles qui, par leurs vertus économiques et sociales contribuent à créer de nouveaux liens et des processus durables, grâce à l’activation ou au renforcement des proximités et de leurs potentiels.
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After a new and ambitious reform, referred to as the ‘Territorial Big Bang’, France was confronted, from the end of 2018, with the revolt of the yellow vests, often originating from the country’s most peripheral or troubled territories. These oppositions and contestations from the territories may seem all the more astonishing since the ambitious territorial reform initiated in 2015 and which took shape with the NOTRE and MAPTAM laws aimed precisely at repositioning the role of the territories at each scale. How and why have we arrived at the current result, which seems to revive the historical territorial divide between Paris and the provinces, transforming it into an opposition between the major cities and the rest of France? In this article, we show how the territorial reform of 2015 was a failure and we take stock of the fact that far from affirming a new stage of decentralization, it has consisted above all in favouring large structures and the search for economies of scale, and has left behind territories that don’t matter anymore for the public policies.
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In a context where anaerobic digestion is a controversial subject, it is not surprising to see that between 20% and 30% of anaerobic digestion projects are abandoned, mainly for reasons of local opposition, problems of coordination between stakeholders and the implementation of real territorial governance capable of facing the challenges encountered during the setting up of the project. We can consequently question the role that local territorial authorities could play to encourage the development of biogas in France. We used semi-structured interviews conducted with anaerobic digestion stakeholders to identify the main functions of territorial intermediation (and their specific elements) that local authorities could have to encourage the deployment and success of these projects. Local authorities play the role of intermediation by (i) ensuring spatial and cognitive proximities between actors, (ii) mobilizing territorial resources and favoring local anchorage (iii) installing trust among the local stakeholders and (iv) having a role of instigator by participating in the supply (inputs) of biogas plants and the purchase of the energy produced (outputs).
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Despite the climate emergency, there is still no consensus on renewable energies, which have to confront forms of social opposition that may well affect the success of any project (especially wind energy and biogas). We propose an original analytical framework to go beyond the nimbyist approach, combining the proximity theory and the exit-voice model. This enables us to examine the thinking adopted by biogas production stakeholders and the ensuing associations in order to identify and understand the obstacles to the development of joint biogas production projects. Taking further other theories that highlight the importance of place attachment and place identity, we show that the challenges linked to a project's territorial governance can explain conflicts that may lead the project initiators to abandon a biogas plant's construction. We show that considering the local residents' interests and including them in the participative procedures are not the only factors that count, but also, more generally, coordination between all of the stakeholders. Our paper also highlights the need for an intermediary actor to play the role of facilitator in organising different types of proximity.
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Anaerobic Digestion plants (AD plants) are an important part of energy transition towards low-carbon rural economies in Central European countries. However, their benefits in making rural spaces more energy sustainable and energy self-sufficient are frequently questioned. In our paper, we strive to deepen our understanding of the level of embeddedness of two modes of operation of AD plants (AD on-farm, AD off-farm) in cases of Poland and the Czech Republic. We evaluate the pros and cons of both modes and assess their importance for the local rural development and energy transition through the lens of their embeddedness in the life of rural communities. Through questionnaire surveys in two municipalities (Buczek in Poland, Stonava in the Czech Republic, n = 232) and a set of expert interviews (19) with local and regional stakeholders, we have found that AD plants are specific rural enterprises as they usually rely on local biomass resources and are generally more grounded in the local economy and in local social structures than other enterprises. We also discovered that both types of AD plants investigated create significant (but varied) linkages with local stakeholders. The awareness of ADs among local population is high and significantly influenced by previous visits to the AD plant. By providing jobs and organizing local events for the local population operators of AD plants create space for their deeper acceptability and their embeddedness into the life of rural communities, however, site-specificity and local socio-cultural contexts must be also considered.
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In this paper, we investigate the impact of large- and farm-scale biogas plants on the rural residential property values. We use data from 11,279 rural housing transactions in the period 2007–2015 and trace spatial effects of biogas plants on the local property market. Our results show that large biogas plants have a significant negative impact on rural residential property values while farm-scale biogas plants have a significant positive impact. The findings suggest that preferences for or against biogas plants cannot be explained by either a NIMBY or a PIMBY phenomenon and the paper explores potential reasons for the observed disparity in valuation of farm- and large-scale biogas plants. An economic impact assessment of the choice of facility type, based on a concrete case study, indicates that the impact on residential property values may tip the scale in favor of farm-scale biogas plants. Based on these results, policy implications for planning and expansion of biogas production are discussed.
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In this paper, we seek to identify the dynamics of change and innovation at work in the agricultural sector of the Brazilian Amazon region, which operate in a context of environmental and technical pressure. We search for understanding how different innovative practices are implemented and how hybrid practices can develop through relationships between local actors who belong to different worlds. Our study focuses more specifically on dairy production in the Paragominas municipality, whose “green municipality” programme has led to an intensification of agricultural production and a significant reduction in deforestation, and where different forms of agriculture coexist. The dynamics of interaction are explored through an analysis of social networks, in which we examine, from empirical data, the structure of networks that facilitate interactions. Through an analysis of proximity relationships, we perform a detailed study of the spatial and non‐spatial determinants of these interactions. The paper first presents the study sites and analysis methods, then we provide a description of our results concerning innovation models, stakeholder networks and proximity relations.
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Nowadays the greatest contribution to atmospheric pollution is due to carbonic dioxide (CO2) emissions resulting from industrial activities. Among the various technologies for the production of energies from renewable sources, the biomass combustion is the technology that better replaces the fossil fuels. Unfortunately, one of the limits to the spread of this technology in Europe and not only is the lack of social acceptability of the plants, in particular solid fuel biomass combustion. The “Nimby Syndrome” (Not In My Back Yard) is the strong opposition of the neighboring populations to their realization. The most significant reason of non-acceptance by populations consists in atmospheric pollution. People are worried about the effects on human health of possible atmospheric pollution caused by the gaseous emissions of combustion plants. Consequently, the formation of citizen committees against plant installation is promoted. The objective of this work is to identify a methodology able to contrast the “Nimby Syndrome” in the case of biomass power plants. The main actions to promote the social acceptance of biomass power plants are: • Verify upstream of the realization (design phase) the effective use of BAT (Best Available Technologies); • Involve the citizen at all stages of plant design; • Install stationary cameras (internet connected) that make images of raw material in the plant available on-line 24 h/24. • Realization of spatial and temporal high-resolution monitoring networks in order to verify the real impact of emissions on air quality in neighboring areas and to give the monitoring data available 24/24h to all citizens. About the last point, an innovative technology was used to carry out the air quality monitoring at high spatial and temporal resolution. These monitoring networks have to be installed before and after biomass plant realization. In this way, it is possible to have a comparison of atmospheric pollution before and after plant operation. The optimal arrangement of low cost monitoring station and data processing modes (also by using forecasting models) are described in this work. In this way, is possible to demonstrate the transparency about emission levels to citizens.
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The paper presents the results of a research on governance and innovation dynamics involved in a Portuguese rural territory—Coruche, the so‐called capital of cork. By presenting research on innovation dynamics using a particular raw material and a particular rural territory (Coruche), the research fulfils two objectives: (i) contribute to the extant literature, by addressing an empirical context that has been neglected by most innovation scholars, that is, rural territories and traditional sectors, namely agro‐forest industry; and (ii) highlight different novelties and territorial dynamics related with cork production and transformation and governance aspects of this particular system of innovation. The use of a network analysis allows the characterization of this system, the different types of actors (multi‐actor), their interactions framed by institutions, and operating at different territorial scales (multi‐scale). The governance of cork‐based activities in this territory includes important transformation companies, forest producers, professional and development associations, and public administration entities with competences in regulation and the development of the territory, including the management of European Funds. The local presence of a multinational enterprise introduces interesting issues related with its attachment to the territory including the creation of employment and the collaboration with local entities in activities and events related with cork production and transformation.