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[Tribune] “The rush for green gold!  “- Debates


“There they were all crowded together in front of giant screens, their eyes riveted on the train timetables. Especially the departure times, these are the times that interest today. “They” are the passing foreigners, the provincials who were returning home. “They”, more astonishing still, it is these Parisians who left the City of Light, this culturally rich and socially tumultuous life, made impossible by time of confinement.

Month after month, the health crisis is playing havoc and SNCF is today a privileged place of observation. This is, in fact, that this famous Legrand star which connects all the lines in one and the same point, Paris, shines in the opposite direction. The frames which circulate in the direction of our countryside are crowded. The French are rediscovering rural France, this France that has sometimes been described as profound with a touch of condescension. Simple disruption of rail traffic or a deeper tidal wave of an upcoming urban exodus? I would gladly bet that the stars, with reference to this very particular French railway scheme, are predicting the future to us better than they have ever done.

Suddenly, as suddenly as the epidemic appeared, rurality became at the same time a refuge and a safe haven. This double analogy because if rurality is a place where urbanites, Parisians in the lead, will take shelter by avoiding the feeling of confinement that they can experience in housing considered too small and lacking in green spaces, it could well be that rurality will also be tomorrow, a place where we will invest our money to protect it from the economic consequences of this same crisis. Urban people are realizing, in 2021, that the “Campaign is winning them”. They have taken a liking to it and many of them are now thinking of settling there. In mid-March, an Ifop poll told us that 67% of French people wanted to change elements of their daily life. For 34% of them, these would be substantial changes and for 36% of 25-34 year olds, this desire for change translates into a desire to move. Green tourism and the real estate market in medium-sized towns, small towns and in the countryside undoubtedly have a bright future ahead of them!

Urbanites are realizing, in 2021, that the “Campaign is winning them”. They have taken a liking to it and many of them are now thinking of settling there.

The economic crisis which will inevitably follow the health crisis will only accelerate this phenomenon even further when investors turn to what are called safe havens. We know the rule that has been tried and tested many times over: when nothing is going well, investors turn to safe financial products, which can sometimes even improve when speculative bubbles deflate. This is the case with investments in stone. The real novelty this time is that it may not be the city real estate market that could reap the greatest benefits!

In a period where the issues related to global warming are becoming primary, where good living takes on a new meaning, where the local is acclaimed, it could be more widely that the economic world turns to other horizons and that we are witnessing a real “green gold rush”. The businessman Xavier Niel has just invested in a school which will train 2,000 urban dwellers ready to reconquer the countryside. Kimbal Musk predicts that millennials will quit their office jobs to join farms. For the second time in the century, the number of farmers aged 25 to 34 is on the rise in the United States. Bill Gates, meanwhile, has just made a sort of silent takeover bid by quietly becoming the largest landowner in the United States. Simple coincidence or deeper societal upheavals? I am one of those who thinks that “there is no chance, there are only dates”. Do not miss this one, it is high time to think about the rurality of tomorrow!

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