Université Paris-Saclay, UC Davis, Terre et Cité, the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority (OSA), The Nature Conservancy, and EIT Climate KIC have joined forces to set up a series of digital conferences on natural and working lands in periurban areas as keys to resilience in the face of climate change and biodiversity depletion.

Policy-makers, researchers, state representatives, farmers and other actors from the Plateau de Saclay and the Silicon Valley will present their work and reflect together on the design and implementation of policies for the ecological transition, as well as on the role of research in accelerating change.


Webinar: Carbon storage at farm and landscape levels – November 18 2021

Natural, agricultural and forest areas play decisive roles in the climate system, in particular thanks to their capacity to store carbon. Managing these areas in a way that favors carbon sequestration would help avoid, reduce and offset greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Introduced by Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and Valérie Masson-Delmotte, co-chair of IPCC Working Group 1, this webinar compares the dynamics at work regarding this major issue in France and California, particularly in the agri-urban areas of the Plateau de Saclay and the Santa Clara Valley. What lessons can be drawn from these experiences to significantly reduce the climate and ecological impact of the agricultural sector?

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Webinar: Land-Use and Sustainability, 7 October 2021

Biodiversity depletion and the weakening of ecosystem services call into question the continuing artificialization of emerged lands. It is now necessary for land-uses to evolve in order to stem the pressure induced on ecosystems and sustain the benefits they bring to societies.

This webinar was opened by our special guests Yann Arthus-Bertrand (photographer, reporter and director), Anne Larigauderie (Executive Secretary, IPBES) and Jennifer Norris (Deputy Secretary, Biodiversity and Habitat, California Natural Resource Agency). 

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Introductory webinar – January 2021

An introductory webinar was held in January 2021, to present the key concepts and actors for the resilience of periurban areas.

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Origins of the partnership

It all started during the Saclay Workshops, as part of the Living Lab approach undertaken on the Plateau de Saclay, when a geographer involved in the process drew a parallel between the dynamics at work for preserving agricultural and natural spaces on the Plateau de Saclay and in the Silicon Valley. On this basis, Terre et Cité went to meet the Open Space Authority of Santa Clara (OSA) in California in 2016, which allowed them to identify many common issues and approaches.

In 2018, the OSA invited a delegation from Terre et Cité to take part in an event organized as part of the Global Climate Action Summit hosted in San Francisco by the State of California. With the support of the European Commission in Washington, the return trip of a delegation from California was scheduled for September 2020 but had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This led to the launch of a webinar series, making it possible to continue exchanges between actors from the Plateau de Saclay and the Silicon Valley.

The Plateau de Saclay and Santa Clara Valley

Located 20 km South from Paris, the Plateau de Saclay is a 15 470 ha agricultural and peri-urban area at the crossroads of three inter-municipalities (Versailles Grand Parc, Communauté Paris-Saclay, Saint-Quentin-Yvelines). It is characterized by relatively wide landscapes as well as an outstanding soil quality from an agronomic perspective. Thanks to the mobilisation of its farmers, but also to the Paris-Saclay cluster to the South of the Plateau, it is a land of innovation and a unique place where the agroecological transition can take off and inspire similar spaces. A Living-Lab approach initiated in 2016 brings together various regional players to stimulate synergies between research, agriculture and societal expectations. 

Located to the South of San Francisco, Santa Clara County in California is well-known for the development of Silicon Valley and the presence of headquarters of many high-tech companies.

Once known as “Valley of Heart’s Delight”, it was one of the most productive agricultural areas in the country thanks to its internationally recognized fruit production and packing industries. Since 1984, the county has lost 45% of its arable land (21,171 acres) to urbanisation.

The share of agricultural activities remain significant and are mainly concentrated in the Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Resource Area (ARA).

Terre et Cité

The non profit organisation Terre et Cité was created in 2001 by two farmers who were concerned about the rapid urbanization of the Plateau. Since then, Terre et Cité has monitored and promoted open space issues, through the development of sustainable agricultural practices and the promotion of the natural, cultural and built heritage on the Plateau de Saclay and its valleys. It operates within 4 groups (farmers, elected officials, companies and non-profit organizations, and civil society) which allows interaction and exchange between the different stakeholders in the area. 

Terre et Cité takes part in the steering of the program for the Zone de Protection Naturelle, Agricole et Forestière (ZPNAF). Implemented  by the Greater Paris Act of June 3, 2010. this land management tool  is designed to protect 10,168 acres of natural, agricultural and forest land on the Plateau de Saclay (including 6,101 acres of agricultural land).

Want to know more about Terre et Cité’s actions? Go to our home page.

L'Open Space Authority

The Open Space Authority is an independent special district that ensures the preservation of open spaces in Santa Clara County. Since 1993, the Authority has protected over 28,000 acres  through property purchase and implementation of conservation easements, as well as through partnerships with other organizations.

The OSA’s ongoing conservation and restoration efforts are focused on Coyote Valley. This 17,200-acre-wide agricultural and periurban area (1.7 times the area of the ZPNAF, the protected area in Saclay) was identified in 2019 by the California government as a landscape of statewide significance.

Want to know more about the OSA’s actions? Go to their website.

Comparative factsheets on Santa Clara Valley and the Plateau de Saclay

These comparative factsheets provide keys to understanding how natural and agricultural spaces are managed in the Santa Clara Valley and on the Plateau de Saclay, as well as information about the integration of these spaces into large-scale political and legal evolutions at different levels (national, European, federal, international, etc.)

Key chronological and conceptual elements provide context for the upcoming webinars.

Author: Marie Jussaume, PhD student at the Laboratoire Géographie-Cités, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, as part of a mission with Terre et Cité, with the support of EIT Climate KIC.


Study tour of a delegation from California on the Plateau de Saclay

The study tour of a delegation from California is scheduled for July 2022 on the Plateau de Saclay, thanks to the support of the European Commission in Washington.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo as well as representatives from the State of California, from the OSA, The Nature Conservancy and from California universities are expected to take part in the visit.

This one-week trip is a unique opportunity to meet with stakeholders involved in the management of natural and agricultural  spaces at the local, national and European levels. It will build on the content of the webinar cycle and:

Demonstrate how agricultural and natural spaces must be at the heart of innovation to respond to climate and biodiversity challenges

Strengthen cooperation between major educational and research institutions on agriculture, climate and biodiversity issues

Develop experimentations of the most successful public policies at different scales to speed up the ecological transition

They are all part of this journey:

Terre et Cité is a non profit organization created in 2001 by farmers on the Plateau de Saclay. It promotes dialogue between the various stakeholders in the landscape to ensure the future of agricultural activities on the Plateau. Together with the OSA, it initiated this partnership. Home page

The OSA is an independent special district in Santa Clara County, California, where it works to preserve open spaces in the landscape since its creation in 1993. Together with Terre et Cité, the OSA initiated this partnership. Website 

The Nature Conservancy is a non profit organization for the protection of the environment, founded in 1951 in the USA. Its activities are spread over more than 70 countries and allow to preserve over 500 thousand km2 around the world. Website

Ranked 5th nationally for public universities in the US, UC Davis is characterized by its academic excellence in the fields of agriculture (ranked first in the nation) and the environment. Website

With part of its campus located on the Plateau de Saclay, Université Paris-Saclay brings together various faculties, institutes and Grandes Ecoles in the area. It currently represents 13% of French research and was ranked 13th worldwide in the 2021 Shanghai Ranking, and 12th globally for Agricultural Sciences. Website

EIT Climate KIC is the largest public-private partnership in Europe and the main initiative carried out by the European Union focused on innovation for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Website

Financial partners