Lyon Fair and Sustainable City

April 24, 2013

Contributor: Lyon

Workshop: Governance, synergies and local systems /  Branding/label

Create a community of sustainable practices…an opportunity for small businesses and consumers.

Since 2001, the City of Lyon has been concerned by the sustainable development thematic and created an official commission dedicated to it. The main objectives were to answer to citizen’s needs and support the new emerging offer for a responsible consumption.

In 2010, to match demand and offer of sustainable goods, a public policy drew the basis of the action plan: identify, support and give more visibility to organizations and businesses with sustainable/ethical practices and products. The Label was created the year after.

The range of the label is broadly defined on purpose to include : eco-friendly, socially conscious, fair and sustainable products or services. It allows reaching unrelated businesses such as Horeca, services, retailers, etc… From the beginning, the label is an on going process focusing on improving companies’ behaviours and spotting them for citizens.

For example some companies are specialized into city biking solutions. Bikes could be built in Lyon or not. If there are it’s better, but the company contribute anyway to change citizen’s behaviours toward a more sustainable way of living. Other companies are really ahead toward social rules and fair management. (This counts as well as criteria).

Tools :

The Label is inspired by other labelling /evaluation systems: AFNOR, ISO, etc… However, the label is not regulatory. It is entirely free and given for 3 years.

The label is based on 27 questions and gathered into 5 main criteria. According to the amount of points got, the applier will be labelled or not. If yes, there are 3 levels.

Max points Min Points to be labelled
Governance 25 7
Environmental behaviour 25 7
Sustainable consumption 25 7
Citizenship (meaning involvement into the community) 15 4
Innovation 10 0

Trying to be as sharp and open at the time is a delicate balanced “game” with the criteria. For instance, “the sustainable consumption criteria” includes a question about buying local products and another one about selling organic/fair/local products. The company can have both sides of sustainable behaviour and then gets more points.

Note : since the end of 2012, a former objective has changed: we are not aiming for 400 labelled organisation anymore (Bristol presentation). We are now focusing on quality more than quantity, aiming to gain credibility for the label.

For a company, being labelled means:

– Getting benefits from the marketing package: massive communication to public, dedicated website, Facebook,

– Being a member of the “Club”: network for business B2B, meetings between labelled businesses.


  • One person full time is dedicated to the label, plus 2 interns full time on 6 months per year. Main tasks: prospecting, collecting and sorting applies, selecting and labelling, managing the network of labelled businesses.
  • Two “famous” people from the region actively involved into sustainable development have been chosen as “ambassadors” and are actively lobbying towards representatives and organisations
  • An independent « wise committee » gives the directive lines to underwrite transparency and credibility about labelled businesses.
  • The Communication department from the city allows a large scale communication toward citizens : website, flyers, leaflets, posters…
  • Independent consultant is managing the network in order to avoid “institutional” frame and get more friendly and informal frame
  • Annual budget: about 20K€ /year.


There is not concrete evaluation on benefits. First of all, the label does not exist for long enough. Our reference document (based on the 27 questions) keeps evolving. But we’re planning to evaluate the impacts in within the next 5 years.

Then, it’s an on going improvement process for companies, labelled or not, that get feedback from the city according to the criteria. There are some indirect impacts due to the network as B2B business, sharing best practices among members, etc.


  • What are the lessons learn to be used/transferred/implemented in the other partner cities?

To be improved:

  • Environmental criteria: 2 Questions are confusing
  • Governance criteria: fit more to medium size companies, less for very small once
  • Applying form is outdated: working on online form
  • Ease the administrative frame: create a committee to interview appliers and clarify some blurry points


  • Credibility and transparency: each members want a real gain from being labelled, based on recognition of the community there in which has to be identified as different. Focus on quality, more than quantity.
  • The network: members want to be involved in the “life” of the label. Develop a concrete community
  • Elected representatives and ambassadors’ involvement: gives higher sense to the label, more than marketing.