LUCI Annual General Meeting
Montpellier – Highlights

Cities and their partners discuss key challenges of urban lighting

From 24 to 27 April, cities from over 20 countries gathered in Montpellier for LUCI’s Annual General Meeting. The 2024 edition brought together an impressive 140 participants with 37 cities officially represented.

Each year, this unique gathering of cities worldwide is a perfect opportunity to discuss different facets of urban lighting and build international cooperation. Through thought-provoking presentations, immersive workshops and in-person experiences of the night both in the city centre and outskirts of Montpellier, participants were called to action to improve lighting in cities for a better quality of life for all.

Of the many topics that were on the table, one stood out particularly as a major challenge for cities: light pollution and how to tackle it.

New nights begin in Montpellier

The LUCI AGM took place in the context of the recent launch of a ground breaking lighting masterplan for Montpellier, under the leadership of Michaël Delafosse, Mayor of Montpellier and
President of Montpellier Mediterranean Metropolis. Inspired and engineered by a dedicated team including Bruno Paternot, Vice President of the Montpellier Metropolis, the local urban lighting strategy was presented (Damien GuiraudiePhilippe Clavel) with past, present and future perspectives of urban lighting in their city. The Metropolis, as the local authority competent for managing urban lighting, plays a pivotal role in tackling excessive lighting, including thinking and working closely with the local lighting ecosystem to find common solutions.

Projects made in cooperation with La Telescop (Léa Tardieu and Sarah Potin) as well as Gustave Eiffel University (Céline Villa), in the fields of Artificial Light at Night (ALAN) and tackling light pollution, were presented. A representative of Cévennes National Park (Richard Scherrer) presented how they collaborate with Montpellier in the context of the International Dark Sky Reserve and fight against light pollution from surrounding human settlements, discussing impacts on biodiversity as well as astro-tourism.

These presentations were a testament to what joint-up efforts and the cooperation between city and research institutions can bring to minimise light pollution, curb negative impacts on the biosphere and build a clear political vision for a better balance between light and dark, whilst still considering safety for residents and aesthetics as absolutely essential.

LUCI members can find presentation materials and more on the LUCI Hub.

Towards a better understanding of light pollution

If some cities like Montpellier are doing their share to tackle light pollution, the brilliant keynote of Ruskin Hartley, the CEO of DarkSky International, resonating with other speakers and presentations throughout the event, brought much food for thought at a global level.

The statistic that stuck with the audience was that light pollution as a global issue is doubling every eight years throughout all continents. “Today, light pollution is a global issue. 83% of people live under light-polluted skies. 99% in Europe and North America”, said Ruskin Hartley.

Ruskin shared actionable steps on how to reduce light pollution in order for all to better access natural darkness, and its benefits such as seeing the Milky Way. His presentation linked to the LUCI Declaration for the Future of Urban Lighting, promoting not only the importance of darkness for humans, but also the importance of darkness for biodiversity and creatures living in cities and its surrounding areas.

And the ultimate suggested solution to this problem? Reclaiming the night by controlling glare, sky glow and light trespass, which can start by carefully curating and better controlling urban lighting in the public and private domains. “Cities are a key part of the solution to maintaining dark skies, not to deny light but with the right amount of light, in the right way, at the right time”, he said.

LUCI members can find presentation materials and more on the LUCI Hub.

Further steps to better prevent light pollution

The LUCI Talks brought three diverse and complementary perspectives on stage to push further some of the major aspects of light pollution.

Virginie Gabel, Board Member, Good Light Group, founder of Clock&me, brought attention to the negative effect of light pollution on human biological rhythms and well-being and how we can take action to control that on a personal level. After explaining the different types of “good light,” she argued that improving urban lighting can have a positive impact on health.

Christopher Kyba, Post-doctoral researcher, GFZ-Potsdam, in a presentation entitled “What’s behind light pollution and can we do anything about it ?” highlighted the problems of research data and encouraged cities to consider creating their own local norms (eg: set limits on allowed surface luminance) and work with the private sector to turn off unnecessary lights at night (eg: advertisements). One of the core aspects of his talk was to challenge the idea that more and brighter lights make us safer.

Lastly, Nicola Robinson, Research Policy Officer at the European Commission, first presented the European context, including Zero Pollution Action Plan, a review of information on light pollution at EU level, the Brno appeal to reduce light pollution (2022 CZ presidency of the EU). She then gave a survey of light pollution in EU-funded research programmes and related projects – such as Horizon 2020 (including the ENLIGHTENme project). She insisted on the Science for Environment Policy Future Brief on Light Pollution, published in November 2023 by the DG Environment.

LUCI members can find presentation materials and more on the LUCI Hub.

Cities at the frontline to tackle light pollution

During an “Open Mic” session, some of the contributors of the Light Pollution Working Group (gathering from 2022 to 2024, chaired by the City of Jyväskylä) – our city change-makers – shared insights about their work to inspire colleagues around the world to better tackle and prevent light pollution. They presented in a few words their challenges and approaches, and the progress they made.

Among the ideas shared by the speakers : “We should define together what is enough light” (Helsinki); ”Let’s better adapt and trim public lighting and ask for commitments from private owners too” (City of London Corp.); “Find new regulations for advertisement” (Ghent); “Communicate the benefits to a darker city can be”(Amsterdam); How to maintain ecological ‘dark’ corridors” (Geneva); “Explore the research approaches about the experiences of darkness in different environments” (University of Oulu); and “How design interventions can bring attention to darkness in parks and playgrounds” (Concepto).

Watch the local TV interview featuring cities of Montpellier, Oulu, Rabat and Seoul (FR) on the LUCI Hub – LUCI members only

LUCI members can find presentation materials and more on the LUCI Hub.

A selection of lighting projects and initiatives from 4 continents

In the dynamic Open Conference Session format taking place across two parallel tracks, LUCI members were invited to showcase their cities’ lighting strategies, projects and other initiatives. Seoul Metropolitan Government and Helsinki focussed on how carefully selected lighting makes their city more pleasant for inhabitants. Solar lighting was a matter of attention for both presentations of the city of Los Angeles’ Bureau of Street Lighting and lighting manufacturer SchréderJyväskylä and University of Oulu discussed how darkness is perceived in the Nordic context. Furthermore, the viewpoint that darkness is a sustainable option for cities was shared by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.

LUCI members can find presentation materials and more on the LUCI Hub.

Learning by doing: LUCI AGM Workshops

As the grand immersive finale of the event programme, participants got involved in one of three participative workshops. In the first atelier, participants took on the roles of personas of the local population as they responded to the lighting transformation of the Mosson district in Montpellier discussing their various and different feelings such as fears, visions, trust, inclusiveness, etc, towards this project. Some participants tried their hand at “Éteins moi si tu peux” (Switch me off if you can), a board game created by Montpellier Metropolis as part of its lighting masterplan. The workshop “Noctines” was about nocturnal narratives and discussions showed the challenge of combining sociologic approaches and digital tools.

Experiencing first hand Montpellier’s urban lighting

During various nighttime visits, participants had the opportunity to explore Montpellier Metropolis by night. In Murviel-lès-Montpellier, a small village close to Montpellier, newly installed amber LED streetlights were demonstrated. Participants then embarked on a hike illuminated by candlelight, and at the top had the opportunity to see the stars through telescopes and enjoy a brief performance of poetry and singing. The visit concluded by witnessing the switch-off of public lighting in Murviel at 23:00.

A second night visit allowed participants to discover the lighting installations in Montpellier’s beautiful historical centre. Accompanied by knowledgeable tour guides, some climbed up the Babotte Tower and learned about the activities of the Astronomical society, others viewed the city from above from the Arc de Triomphe. Some groups also visited secret passages and hidden spaces unknown even to locals.

These shared moments helped spark connections within the network and create valuable memories, while learning more about the history and challenges of Montpellier.

Visiting regional urban lighting industry champions

In addition to the official programme, some participants had the chance to attend specially-organised tours of:

  • Technilum’s factory and headquarter in Béziers, led by Agnès Jullian, Technilum Group CEO.
  • Blachère’s factory and contemporary art foundation in Apt, led by Johan Hughes, CEO of Blachère.

After a presentation of each host’s history and expertise, the groups were guided through the factories where production was ongoing (light poles for Technilum and winter lighting decorations for Blachère). Both visits concluded in the showrooms where lighting professionals could enjoy some of the latest technologies and creations.

Thank you !

Thank you to all the brilliant speakers of the event, the Montpellier Mediterranean Metropolis team for co-organising this event and hosting us in their city!

A special thanks to our sponsors for helping to make this event possible: Blachère Illumination, Eclatec, Schréder and Technilum.

We would like to express our most sincere thanks to all international delegates for their presence and participation in the LUCI AGM 2024 in Montpellier. Your enthusiasm and commitment have greatly contributed to making these three days memorable and enriching for everyone. We are honoured to have had the opportunity to welcome you among us and to share these poetic moments, reflections, debates… See you soon ! »

Clare HART – Vice President of Montpellier Mediterranean Metropolis for International Outreach and European Cooperation
Bruno PATERNOT – Vice President of Montpellier Mediterranean Metropolis for Lighting Aesthetics

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Event pictures

We are happy to share some photos from the conference. You can access them here.

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Photo credits
©LUCI Association; ©Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole