Partners News

Finance, a key player in the transition

Grégory Sanson, President of Lille Place Financière, received Cécile Cabanis and Ludovic Subran at a conference on the role of each party in financing the transition.

Three tables are facing each other: each participant will talk for about 20 minutes before discussing with the audience in hybrid mode (face-to-face but also remote!). Cécile Cabanis is the former number two at Danone, the first CAC40 mission company. She is the current Deputy Managing Director of the investment company Tikehau Capital. She was named "Woman of Sustainable Development" in 2020 at the Trophées des Femmes de l'Industrie organized by Usine Nouvelle. Ludovic Subran, chief economist of the Allianz group and researcher in macroeconomics, is ranked in the top 100 French leaders of tomorrow by the Choiseul Institute and Le Figaro.

A lack of knowledge and information

Ludovic Subran opens the session with "climate illiteracy". According to him, there is still a lack of knowledge among the general public about global warming and the solutions available to us: "One person in three barely understands the issue, and we are a long way from the level of information we need to make these changes." This lack of knowledge is also found in the financial sector. He invites the whole audience to get informed, to be interested and to exchange. He claims the need to remain humble about our knowledge and especially about our lack of knowledge.

Similarly, Cécile Cabanis deplores this lack of knowledge. Her experience at Danone taught her that consumers were disconnected from their food. This lack is felt and grows even more so with social media addressing so many subjects that we know and agree with: "We have an extremely heterogeneous level of information and communication".

The importance of collaboration

One of the first sentences pronounced by Ludovic Subran is: "We are all actors of change". This implies a generational and collective responsibility for global warming. He feels a strong desire for cooperation: "Everyone must move towards a form of greening", the researcher claims. Secondly, he emphasizes the importance of the social in the economic and ecological transition. "Today, we talk about a fair transition to avoid the losers always being the same", explains Ludovic Subran. In other words, we need to manage the heterogeneity of the effects.

According to Cécile Cabanis, the transition is difficult precisely because it is collective. This implies conflicting interests and therefore the need to align interests, which further complicates the issue. Nevertheless, diversity is good because it makes people grow: innovation and society can evolve thanks to the variety of profiles. Cécile Cabanis emphasizes the collective nature of the state of health of the planet. Everyone has a role to play and "finance must provide guidance in order to finance the transformation".  Stakeholders such as consumers, suppliers but also shareholders must become aware of their roles. For this, Cécile Cabanis points out the need for tools, and in particular measurements: "What we don't measure, we don't manage, so we don't feel guilty.”

But with what tools?

According to Cécile Cabanis, measurement is useful if relevant, comparable and sheds light on investment issues. There is room for improvement, but she says we are on the right track. Good news! After measurement, the expert goes on to explain the need for engagement. Indeed, it is necessary to manage direct impacts, but also indirect ones. The relationship with the supplier is changing, since it is now necessary to share data and be on a long-term relationship. Secondly, interests must be aligned: the collective means that we are faced with a multitude of interests. Nevertheless, when bonuses are given, the collective changes. For Cécile Cabanis, "we will have won when we stop talking about it". Each actor must think in terms of CSR, at all levels of the company and society. In the long term, we need to make progress on measurement and create simpler and more homogeneous mechanisms, within everyone's reach.

Ludovic Subran defends the importance of public policies: they play a major role in the transition in terms of regulation, taxation, the choice of industrial policies, but also the creation of carbon markets, for example. The energy transition must be done between the public and private sectors. Ludovic Subran explains further during one of the questions on the said market. According to him, its certification should be clarified in Europe to make it more profound and so that the price reflects the reality of carbon emissions and the needs of companies that must compensate. His vision? A global carbon market, but since each country has a different vision of decarbonization, it is necessary to reach consensus.

In other words, decarbonizing companies cannot be done overnight, and it requires a collaborative effort from all the players in our society, so that everyone can play their part in building a regulated, measured and greener common market.


"61% of consumers trust brands and businesses more than government to address environmental issues"

It was during a conference on the different ways to bring a brand to life in the era of transition that Alice Vachet, creator of the Empreinte podcast, welcomed Laetitia Cousi, Jean-Philippe Sloves and Michael Rogué. Alice Vachet listens and asks questions to an attentive audience. A fruitful Q&A session with the audience followed.

Alice Vachet is the creator of the podcast l'Empreinte (number 1 in France on CSR topics). Laetitia Cousi has been CSR Manager France at Dell Techonlogies since 2015. Jean-Philippe Sloves accompanies the transformation of La Redoute as Director of Corporate Communications and CSR since 2014. Finally, Michael Rogué is Planet Leader at Boulanger. After 15 years in digital transformation, he decided to devote himself to the ecological transition out of conviction.

An honest communication

One of the first points raised by Laetitia Cousi during the first exchanges was transparency. According to her, this is the best way to make consumers aware of the ecological transition. "We have to be sincere and involved and launch actions that will have an international as well as a local impact": transparency and sincerity are key in the approach of actions and results. Transparent communication is very important at Dell to help, in particular, companies and individuals recycle their end-of-life equipment.

One of the main objectives of La Redoute is to encourage families to be responsible consumers. This involves displaying products and a certain amount of data. La Redoute is working internally to collect and make available a certain amount of information concerning the environmental impact of its products. Additionally, Jean-Philippe Sloves expresses the desire to include a CSR component in all companies and to make this measure dynamic. "This carbon neutrality will have to be justified and proven".

Michael Rogué talks about the importance of looking at the entire value chain when doing a carbon footprint and going as far as Scop3 (looking both upstream and downstream of the value chain, from manufacturing to consumption). He explains the importance of informing consumers about the product they are buying. He uses the example of a laptop: where the consumer has the impression that the waste is simply the cardboard box, there is however a multitude of invisible waste. Indeed, producing a laptop computer requires 250kg of oil, about thirty metals that are becoming scarce, a ton of water, a ton of waste but also CO2 during use.

Involving stakeholders

All of the speakers emphasized the importance of cooperation and collective action in energy transformation. According to Laetitia Cousi, the main issues are related to eco-design: Dell innovated programs very early on (use of closed loop plastic), reuses carbon fiber from the space sector (for computer shells in particular) and, more recently, recycles rare metals and aluminum. All these actions are carried out in partnership with others: "It is by joining forces with other companies that we will be able to have a stronger impact on environmental aspects.

According to Jean-Philippe Sloves, the issue affects both products and consumers. At La Redoute, all unsold products are donated to associations, the 'zero plastic' objective will be reached in 2030 and from next year, the smallest plastic packaging will be replaced by kraft paper. Nevertheless, this cannot be done alone. La Redoute needs the commitment of its employees, suppliers and a number of partners. Jean-Philippe Sloves explains that "at La Redoute, we believe that CSR is a matter of stakeholder engagement and communication plays a big role in this".

Michael Rogué explains several initiatives carried out at Boulanger: an ecological transformation plan on direct emissions, the greening of means of transport, and the reduction of energy consumption in the stores. Boulanger is also looking after indirect emissions from the brands distributed in its stores, calling on them to adopt eco-design. This calls for cooperation: "We work hand in hand with the brands to eco-select the most responsible products". Boulanger suggests a relocation of know-how, an acceleration of sustainable services but also the best possible end of life for products. "Every citizen of the world and of an industrialized and developed country such as France is going to have to adopt a more responsible lifestyle," says Michael Rogué.

Taking the time

Laetitia Cousi regrets a rush. She explains that everyone is trying to act, which is a good thing, but the actions should be more prepared. Moreover, we cannot have a zero carbon footprint product: "We will not avoid carbon compensation". Sometimes it is not possible. The challenge is therefore to go for maximum reduction and minimum compensation.

According to Jean-Philippe Sloves, we can't switch to eco-design overnight. The transition is gradual: it takes place through the choice of materials, on-demand production, and recycled or upcycled collections. "We will never achieve zero emissions": we must return to a level of human activity that is bearable for the planet. The calculation is new for companies. La Redoute is still innovating, the company is investing internally to recover data but it takes time. As an example, for the sustainable wood labels, a full-time person is needed to collect the data.

For Michael Rogué: "the further we go, the more we realize that we have to dig. The climate transition takes time. He explains that each stage of the product's life cycle must be analyzed and measured in detail. This takes a lot of time and energy because, to really see the difference in carbon impact, you have to go into each product. But despite this complexity and urgency, it's very important to do it to measure. "We must all, on a global level, work together towards carbon neutrality".


Living, inhabiting, getting around: how to build tomorrow's city?

On Tuesday, November 23, the "Building tomorrow's city" conference brought together four key speakers to discuss themes related to this issue. The city of tomorrow is a project carried out not only by builders and lessors, but also by all citizens wishing to live in it.

"What is the city of tomorrow?" questions Frédérique Seels, in charge of moderating the conference. As CD2E's director, a gas pedal of eco-transition, she focuses on both the material and immaterial aspects of future urbanism. And when it comes to construction, it's all about materials! In order to make the city sustainable, it is necessary to develop it in an ecological way, but also be attentive to the needs of the people who will live there. For this, local actors play an essential role. Frédérique Seels specifies that collecting the needs of the users is part of CD2E's mission.

Building on a solid foundation: optimism as a supporting wall

Jérémy Estrader, Habitat en Région's Deputy Managing Director, was invited to express his vision of construction. For landlords, building means housing people. He is proud of the Habitat group's activity in this field: "Our group has 3300 employees! " A success that relies in particular on the savings banks with which it is affiliated. For him, the city of tomorrow is based on a strategic project that is already underway. The group plans to build 1,500 new homes starting in January 2022. To do so responsibly, a certain percentage of bio-sourced construction materials must be used. Jérémy Estrader has also announced the end of properties classified as F or G on the DPE (Diagnostic de performance énergétique), in accordance with the law, because they are too energy intensive. A measure that augurs a revival of purchasing power according to him.

Building cities to build lives

What would cities be without their citizens? Jérémy Estrader never fails to mention Axentia, a social housing company. "We accompany people from accommodation to autonomy," he says. Philippe Rémignon, chairman of the board of Vilogia, a social landlord, builder and developer, spoke of the social issues involved in urban construction: "Social landlords are developers," he said. His company is also committed to eliminating E-rated properties, notably through rehabilitation, but there' s no intention of stopping there. "If we want to make the city inclusive, we must also provide services," explains the chairman of the board. This means facilitating access to services such as shops and cultural venues. This is a point that Jeremy Estrader insists on, emphasizing the importance of intergenerational diversity in the development of these services so as not to isolate the elderly, who can lose their autonomy and suffer from this isolation.

"Do we still want to build in France?"

Pascal Boulanger, president of the Federation of Real Estate Developers, has doubts about the possibility of creating new buildings and housing. "French society is lost, and the State is showing a schizophrenia. Many mayors, on the right and on the left, refuse building permits. We continue to lose supply every month, we are reaching a crisis that we never knew before." He asks very directly, "Do we still want to build in France?" He draws on his experience, noting that town halls massively refuse building permits. He explains that the consultation required to obtain these permits is very long, and that the meetings around these questions are "games lost in advance". The consequence: a surge in real estate prices, both for new buildings and for older properties.

This state of affairs augurs a real paradigm shift for developers.

Living in the city, a complete program

Sustainable urban planning also means fighting against the ghettoization of the underprivileged classes. When asked what he thinks of the obligation of social housing quottas, Pascal Boulanger does not hide his approval: "This allows for the opening of housing in middle-class neighborhoods, thus bringing social diversity. I say: long live the SRU law!

A point that Carlos Moreno wholeheartedly approves . Freshly arrived from Aix-en-Provence, the university professor is at the origin of the concept of the "quarter-hour city". "Seventy percent of the working population rises at the same time, only to converge on less than 10% of the territory. This creates a funnel. We have to get out of the obligatory long-distance mobility, so that the long distances are chosen. We need to get out of the funnel." Carlos Moreno contrasts the city of the quarter hour with "the territory of the half hour," emphasizing the distance of housing around urban centers. According to him, the city of tomorrow must allow the population to be happy. And to be happy, it is necessary to create an emotional link with the urban space, what he calls "topophilia". He dreads more than anything else the "bobo" districts: "Gentrification is the enemy!" His key words are "ecology", "solidarity", and "proximity".

Carlos Moreno affirms and repeats, "it is difficult to house, but not to live", and approves unreservedly the remarks of the three other speakers on the social stakes involved in urban development. Tomorrow's housing is in good hands.


" An organization's level of consciousness cannot surpass the awareness of its leaders".

On the third and final day of the World Forum, we had the opportunity to attend the conference on Amplification for Positive Impact.

Moderated by Audrey SAGET and Yaël GUILLON, both co-founders of ImFusio, this round table was punctuated by four committed testimonies on the transformation of business models. The guests were each able to present their innovative visions of entrepreneurship in the current context of the ecological crisis. The objective of this keynote was to provide insights to improve the understanding of the issues at stake in the transformation of the world.

This presentation started with a speech by Yaël GUILLON. He insisted on the peril that capitalism was putting the planet in. Indeed, capitalism has certainly allowed humanity to prosper, but has also had harmful consequences on the climate. Because it has the capacity to regenerate incredibly quickly, there is still hope for future generations according to Mr. Guillon. Amplification is a self-sustaining and self-transcending process. Relying on the strengths of capitalism, amplification aims at reaching a new threshold of collective consciousness. It is an exponential dynamic with a positive impact that plays a role in environment, society and economy.

This process aims to "generate tipping points" to access another level of consciousness that will allow the development of new business processes. This positive impact transformation logic has three stages. First, there is a mindset shift. "This is a first step and at the same time a real breakthrough. We change the nature of the company itself, its philosophy and its ambition. Then comes a cultural shift that produces a contributing company. The place of profit is then modified. It is no longer perceived as the goal of the company but as a consequence of entrepreneurial activities. Finally, this transformation ends with the amplifying corporation, which seeks to resonate in an inter-systemic logic, by modifying its production activity. Although there are no companies that have reached this third stage of development to date, Yaël Guillon insisted on the importance of measurement indicators for companies to pursue their ecological transitions.

"A company thrives because it is useful, not the other way around.”

Aurélie LAPIDUS, Regional Director for Haut-de-France at Veolia, opened her speech by explaining the "plural performance" concept. This consists of integrating corporate social responsibility (CSR) into the center of its business model to begin an ecological transition.

Plural performance is a great ambition, a powerful vector of coherence and alignment of business practices with the products and services offered to customers. Ms. Lapidus insists: "It is necessary to have inspiring and inspired leaders. This is the case for Veolia's CEO, as he extends his convictions to the heart of his company. He was a guest at the World Forum for a Responsible Economy five years ago. On that occasion, he gave a lecture at the World Forum in which he argued that "a company is successful because it is useful, not the other way around". This paradigm shift is indeed the way forward for business and capitalism.

Anthropological issues at the center of the debate.

The conference continued with the intervention of Claude FROMAGEAOT, sustainable development director of the Rocher group. He began by underlining the need to profoundly reinvent the way we do business. As a company, he says that we must "completely overhaul the way we do things". He insists on the central problem facing the business world today: lack of time. This problem does not allow companies to plan far into the future. He says that the Rocher group has succeeded in projecting itself by virtue of its family aspect, which allows for innovative modes of governance while inspiring confidence.

To transform the production plants, it is necessary to radically transform our worldviews, which requires raising the awareness of our employees. In this urgent context, it is necessary to face the anthropological questions of man. In fact, in order to find solutions, it is necessary to collaborate between humans and not between managers, because this allows us to raise the problems of capitalism from different angles. It is therefore fundamental for a company to have an external committee that will allow it to align itself with the desires of the people and to face the different challenges.

Change in consumption habits: Return to national markets

As for Christelle MERTER, founder of the Gentle Factory, she claims that "since 2014, the Gentle Factory is much more than just a fashion brand. We've defined ourselves as a true platform company." Merter emphasizes that Gentle Factory members are "connectors" and "bonders". It's a close-knit company with shared values.

In the context of today's urgency, this brand needs to be economically viable, something increasingly dependent on consumer expectations on ecological issues. Fortunately for the Gentle Factory, it is easier for a new company to innovate its business model and adapt to the changing context.

The Gentle Factory seeks to extend the life of its products: vases made of recycled cotton have been produced. The goal is to find alternatives of life to the initial product. This brand focuses on the French market. Indeed, their ecological commitments would lose meaning if they exported internationally. As Audrey Saget rightly pointed out, it would be much more interesting to expand their know-how abroad, to facilitate the development of similar companies.

" Living vacations with a smile on your face without preventing future generations from doing the same ".

Nicolas Beaurain is the last to testify. He is the general manager of the Maeva group, a service platform dedicated to the rental of vacation spots. They are thinking about initiatives to secure the "smiles of future generations". The Maeva group created eco-engaged vacation concepts. This shift began in 2014. It' s been 7 years that smiles are at the root of the extra-financial performance measures of this company. In recent years there has been an acceleration of their eco-responsible measures. Indeed, people now want to go on vacation in authentic places. Their expectations have been transformed by the climate emergency, requiring a reorganization of the services offered.

The Keynote ends with optimism. The World Forum for a Responsible Economy is an opportunity to see the transformation of business practices. Taking an accelerated speed, it was possible to see that everyone is on the same wavelength and that consumer pressure is accentuating these multiple transitions that have already begun in many companies.


Paul Polman : "I am a prisoner of hope"

On November 22nd, the 15th edition of the World Forum for a Responsible Economy held its opening ceremony at the Lille Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Paul Polman, author of Net Positive: how courageous companies thrive by giving more than they take (2021) and former CEO of Unilever, honored us with his speech at the opening plenary. Here is a glimpse of what he had to say.

" Now is the best time to do it "

The plenary begins with the entrance of singer-songwriter Suzane, pouring all her energy into performing her hit song: "La planète à la tête en surchauffe", whose lyrics encourage energy transition and eco-responsibility. After the performance, and in a more formal tone, the face of the man the Financial Times calls "the most outstanding CEO of the last decade" appears on the big screen, in front of an attentive and amazed crowd.

Jean-Michel Lobry, moderator of the plenary session, gets straight to the point: "Why did you write this book?" And Paul Polman answers: "Because we know what we have to do, but we are not doing it at the right speed." More than an invitation to reflection and change, it is a true injunction to evolution: we must act, right now. In 209 days, we have already exhausted all the resources that our planet can generate in one year.

"Solve the world's problems, not cause them!"

A simple objective is clearly identified: long-term benefits. Companies must, for Paul Polman, implement "broader transformations to help change society". As if the icon of sustainable business could guess what the captivated audience is asking - "yes, but how?" - he goes on to say that companies must improve their leadership. "Business transformation depends on leadership, and everything depends on business transformation. We need leadership transformation!" he illustrates. Empathy and compassion are two fundamental things in the transformation of the entrepreneurial world, according to the author.

This is also a question of opportunity: "People are beginning to realize that the cost of our failures is significantly higher than the cost of our actions. Companies have the means to act - and it is in their interest to do so!" Paul Polman is convinced: "An ecologically virtuous company is a factor in economic performance." If we slow down the economy and turn more to sustainability, we will gain in performance.

The author of Net Positive also emphasizes the benefits and essential nature of partnerships. A company will not be able to achieve these objectives alone. "We need to work together", between companies, civil society, associations, lobbies and politicians, to find sustainable solutions to economic, societal and political problems. We must, together, solve the problem of corruption and domestic violence for example. There are many issues at stake, and the objective is strong.

Today's commitments, tomorrow's hopes

Therefore, in the (re)construction of a more efficient economic model, as it is more sustainable, we must become climate-friendly, "we must ensure that the financial markets serve the real economy". And to do this, companies and their stakeholders must take responsibility for their global impact by measuring and adapting it. "Your company will be sustainable if you yourself are sustainable," says Paul Polman.

Finally, Net Positive is a powerful story. A story of hope and possibility: "It's important that you play a key role in transforming your businesses". And it is surely because Paul Polman believes so strongly in what he says that his words seem so prophetic. "A company must have the courage to take responsibility for all its impacts, to find solutions, to strengthen its business model to solve problems, not create them," says the author.

We must fight for women to have the same rights as men, for dignity and equity to prevail, for young people to be empowered by companies and to be actors of change at its core. And it is by fighting for this that we will transform our companies and increase our performance while respecting the challenges of sustainable development. These are the issues that Paul Polman revealed during this opening plenary session, which was full of challenges and hopes. "I am a prisoner of hope," confirmed Paul Polman.

Co-president of the Global Commission for the Economy and Climate and vice-president of the United Nations Global Compact, Paul Polman is also the co-founder and president of IMAGINE. Convinced that businesses "must be a force for good", he proved that partnerships between the different actors of our societies are an excellent source of financial performance. CEO for 10 years of Unilever, his guiding principle is to mobilize companies for the climate emergency. 


"The World Forum is the forum for tomorrow's challenges and ideas"

In 2019, Colin participates to the World Forum for a Responsible Economy as a volunteer in charge of lunch logistics and attends, in parallel, several workshops. A rich experience that he shares with us today.

Each year, several dozen volunteers actively participate in the smooth running of the World Forum for a Responsible Economy. This was the case of Colin who, in 2019, took the logistic responsibility of the lunches: "There were many speakers, I made sure that everyone had their meal. At the same time, I was able to attend several workshops and write the summaries of these exchanges, specifying the participants, the aspects dealt with, the positive points and what emerged. These workshops were very popular, there were managers, directors: it was very enriching". This involvement made him aware of the dynamism of the territory: “When I see projects like rev3, which is a major issue for the Hauts-de-France region, I tell myself that we can anticipate tomorrow's changes and to shake things up in our region. This is the dimension that the World Forum brought to me. I became aware that, at our level and in our region, we could get involved in CSR initiatives, whether we work in a large group or in a small business, through simple practices. That's what really impressed me.”

A human experience

Today, Colin works in management control in a Belgian company specializing in logistics and includes these practices in his missions: "I always talk about social return on investment and not return on investment. I systematically try to integrate green indicators. I also exchange a lot with my colleagues who have studied CSR, on process improvement, waste treatment, etc.". Although the event did not trigger her professional project, it did provide him with " knowledge " but also " a genuine awakening ". It was also a great moment of exchanges and meetings at the international level. "I was in contact with volunteers from the University of Lille, on an Erasmus program. We were able to exchange in English about the same values. There was a real cohesion, it was a very nice human experience". And if he had to give an advice to participate, the young man would not hesitate for long: " is the forum for tomorrow's challenges and ideas ".

Focusing on the local, the last chance for a global transition


The last conference of the World Forum for a Responsible Economy was moderated by Jean-Michel Lobry and recalled the objectives and achievements of this 14th edition. Aside from a few technical and digital difficulties, it was a success for the organisers. It gathered more than 60 speakers, 40,000 viewers on television and 4,000 people who followed the live conferences during these three days.

Within all the subjects that were mentioned, two transversal themes seem to emerge. 

First, a change in the scale of our actions in order to reinforce both local and global initiatives. As the speakers stated a few times during this last conference: “Let’s dare to deinstitutionalize!”

The theme of the social bond was mentioned as well. It was said that the different actors of the energy transition must reinforce their cooperation to create a productive synergy. But on what basis?


Reconnecting citizens

The study “Françaises, Français” from the BVA Group based on the testimonials of 3,000 French citizens and millions of newspapers, shows that most people wish to change the current capitalist and industrial system. Big firms are seen as creators of precariousness, unlike smaller firms (PME). But even though most citizens are expecting a change, many do not really believe in it. Hence why the transition must be inclusive. 


Transforming territories

The first part of the conference recalled the work of research groups who gathered the morning of the 15th to discuss four issues: circular economy, health, youth and energy renovation. These reflective sessions allowed for the drafting of plea papers that offer concrete measures for the transition.

The research group which focused on health suggested opening the debate to new actors and therefore encourage cooperation. They also proposed to map the health situation within the region. The research group on circular economy reflected on the redefinition and revalorisation of waste. The youth group wished to promote the place of young people in society in order to better involve them in the decision-making processes. Finally, the research group on energy renovation evoked a few ideas to achieve the transition from a local renovation to a more industrialized one. “We need an industrial answer to an industrial issue”. This requires training, industrialization and cooperation.

All in all, what these research groups showed is the desire for stronger cooperation between the different actors and an increase in the transformation’s speed.


Changing the scale

Changing the scale means a deeper study of the political and macroeconomic dimensions. The MEP and rapporteur for the budget Pierre Larrouturou described his desire for a radical transformation. In order to “save the last chance”, he believes that we must invest quickly and quite a lot. Even though the European Commission has taken a major step with its thousand billion Transition Plan distributed over 10 years, it remains too little compared to the urgency of the situation. The MEP therefore suggests the creation of a “European Bank for the Transition”. He still recalls the key role that the territories play in this transition, since they are the places where relations are created.


The future of the World Forum

The World Forum does not only last three days, but rather all year long thanks to the Réseau Alliance which develops concrete projects like the Maison Super Locale, or “Super local House”. It is a house of “joyful ecology” which encourages sustainable economic projects and allows for social bonds to be formed. The first house of this kind will be rapidly set up in Roubaix.


The next World Forum edition will be organised with the Clean Tec group and will be accessible to a wide public. As Jean-Pierre Letartre pointed out, thinking about the different scales for action is the priority. We stand at a crucial stage: the one of the last chance, but also the one of all our hopes. Even though the World Forum is over for this year, the transition towards a sustainable economy has only begun.


Matteo Darnet, translated by Jeanne Pavard

Let’s Change Wall Street!

The multiples crisis that our world has experienced over the last two decades show us how fragile the current financial system is. In this conversation animated by Leor Rotchild, Bertrand Badré realistically describes the struggle and the steps toward a global change in the international financial system.

Bertrand Badré is the CEO of the sustainable investment fund Blue like an Orange. Better known as the former financial and general director of the World Bank, he also worked as the financial director of the Caisse d’Epargne and the Société Générale. Bertrand Badré recently published the book Money Hoonie: Can Finance save the world? prefaced by Emmanuel Macron and a short essay, From Billions to Trillions in which he highlights the lack of investments in the ecological transition.

The world current financial system 

Enriched by his professional experience in the world of the international financial system, Bertrand Badré points out the difficulty to change the main economic paradigm toward a more sustainable development. The system is based upon neoliberal ideas from the 1970s. As such, Milton Friedman argued, “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profit”. This vision of the economic order remains in the international treaty such as in the Washington Consensus. Since the world has not changed its model yet, international environmental treaties such as the Paris Agreements rely exclusively on peer pressure and the goodwill of states to change the current system. 

Environment is still not considered as a serious issue by the main powers: the last G20 on environment only raised 13 billion dollars in investment for ecological transition in a 100 trillion-dollar economy.


Finance as the motor of change 

In this transition toward a brighter future, finance has a key role to play. To quote Alexandre Mars, “credit card is the election bill”. As the 18th century was pushed by direct return, the 19th century driven by risk and return, the 20th century needs to be motivated by a combination of risk, return and impact. Profit should just be a mean to achieve an end. So, every financial decision needs to have a social or environmental positive impact on our society. But how can an investor measure the sustainability of a project? 

To measure the sustainability of a candidate, investors need to check if the investment are transparent. If so, to verify the balance between the social, the environment and the economy. Typically, Blue like an Orange had invested in a sustainable project in Colombia as such. 


The role of private actors on ecological transition

Not to be too pessimistic, several responsible actions are taken by entrepreneurs and consumers to change the system, as illustrated by the World Forum. For Bertrand Badré, it is a positive but not sufficient display. In order the transition to be achieved, people need to start by changing themselves. They should stop hiding behind excuses and look at their own change upfront before asking the society to do it for them. The change will come from pressure from the private to the public sphere and from pressure from the national to the international market world order.

The current Covid-19 crisis and the upcoming economic crisis might be the best chance we have to modify our international economic and financial order. Change must be triggered by both people and public sectors. Finance has to be a key actor for transition, starting now by investing trillions of dollars in ecological transition. Only then, will we be able to save the planet!


Matteo Darnet

Bertrand Badré: a businessman at the service of the environment

Bertrand Badré, former managing director of the World Bank and current CEO of the fund “Blue like an Orange Sustainable Capital” defines himself as “a climate lover, promoter of a fair and sustainable economy and a financier”.  He is known for his commitment to finance and sustainable growth. One illustration of this dual engagement is its investment fund whose purpose is to deliver market-level financial returns whilst at the same time achieve credible, sustainable development outcomes. This fund is the empirical achievement of his desire to change the economic model. 


Bertrand Badré has been writing for several years, and his books reflect his commitments. In “Money Honnie: si la finance sauvait le monde”, prefaced by Emmanuel Macron and Gordon Brown, he demonstrates that finance can and must serve the common good. Still on this theme and adapting to the current context, Bertrand Badré published “Voulons-nous (sérieusement) changer le monde?” on September 11th, 2020. (In it), he tries to rethink the world and finance after the Covid-19 crisis. He is accustomed to times of crisis since he already held the position of Chief Financial Officer of Crédit Agricole during the financial crisis of 2008. He claims that it is necessary to question the dominant paradigm of profit-seeking companies led by Milton Friedman. His approach is part of a long-term process to achieve an economy based on sustainable development. All the crises we are going through are creating new challenges that need to be urgently addressed. Bertrand Badré wants to seize “the last chance” to achieve a sustainable and resilient future. But to do so, the rules and the system must change, as he argues: “Human Beings and the Planet must be put at the heart of the economic equation”. Plus, he is convinced that one of the solutions to the world’s problems could be finance. This is why he tries to make people understand that today this field has changed and must become a means to an end. One certainty is that we must take advantage of the current pandemic to do what we were unable or unwilling to do during the last crisis.


A great and sustainable future is not certain. Therefore, we must take every possible precaution to avoid further depletion of resources. Bertrand Badré is convinced that it is the responsibility of everyone, workers, entrepreneurs, consumers, to participate in the creation of a more sustainable world. But finance will also play a major role in this process. In his words: “Let's revolutionise the current economic and financial system to avoid a real revolution”.


Ninon Paulissen

Lidewij Edelkoort, a designer willing to transform

Changing consumption patterns 

Our societies have become obsessed with the act of purchase. People buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have to people they don’t know. The result is irrevocable; the planet’s finite resources are being inexorably depleted. According to Lidewij Edelkoort, founder of Trend Union, and Philip Fimmano, executive director and curator of Trend Union, the design is a way to alert people about this issue. The Covid-19 crisis is a pivotal moment. We must take advantage of the changes inherent in this crisis to bring about a paradigm shift. The industry must change, whether in its production process or in the nature and use of materials. 

Many new approaches are developed, seeking to reorganise processes and to promote a circular economy. With their interventions, the two speakers want to promote new development and new economic models through design. The design thus turns to the human hand to give shape and express deep dismay. Indeed, industrial mass design as we know it has recently become superfluous. People are eager to rework materials and products. They no longer want to depend on subsidiaries on the other side of the planet.  Their exhibition called “La Manufacture: a labour of love” is located in the Gare Saint Sauveur in Lille, a city with a rich textile past. The term “manufacture”, referring to an old fashion term, is not insignificant. Nowadays factories are seen as polluting our lives by releasing dangerous gases, increasing visual pollution ... But the design could help to rethink our relationships with them. We must see them as seniority with which it is possible to make something new. Further developments will depend on our ability to take the best from the past to think about the future.


Recovering the value of time and space 

As Philip Fimmano outlines, all is about speed since the 1990s. Everybody wants everything to go fast. This obsession with rapidness is questioned in the exhibition. All the designers are trying to think about how to slow down production, as the idea of “mass production” has become obsolete. Being responsible for our planet is all about the slowing down of the production and consumption. Although it is hard for the designers to know how to get rid of overconsumption, they rather aim for an article-by-article production. 

The design could also have a local meaning. Most regions of the world are deindustrialized as they relocated their production. This leads to a lack of self-sufficiency. Nobody wants these models, in which everything is about volume, anymore. Especially with the awareness brought about by the health crisis, production will become increasingly local. The pandemic made us rediscover our regions by traveling locally, discovering local brands and the need for self-sufficiency in case of emergency. We need to create a new way of doing things and establish this short circuit between producers and consumers. Small local production units will also be able to recreate jobs for people.


A second life for the products

This exhibition aims to show that we are in the in-between. We need to find new ways to take care of the planet, people and things. It explores the experiments of a new generation of designers around materials and manufacturing processes. Working in fashion gives designers a great deal of influence. These new designers think about ways to better consume but also to “co-design” with nature. Therefore, the exhibition was a project seeking to recycle the materials and waste piled up in our land and seas. They don’t see nature as a natural material but as a partner, a physical and technical inspiration. We need a process that mimics nature because it is a stable source of knowledge.  Philip Fimmano highlights how these new generations can lead to a better future. The expression “Labour with love” illustrates that people love what they do, because they don’t use finite natural resources; they clean up the mess and recycle.  It is this “circular philosophy” that comes out of this new generation.

Moreover, the concept of new materialism underlines the importance of showing more compassion and respect. By getting rid of all marketing, it will be possible to build responsible products. Lidewij Edelkoort and Philip Fimmano agree that objects must be given a soul. That way people will choose them more carefully and keep them longer. 


The design is therefore a great tool to express the need for a paradigm shift. The work of this new generation of designers, the driving force behind a new circular economy, is striking.  The different parts of the exhibition allow us to understand these new modes of local, responsible and more humane production that need to be developed.


Ninon Paulissen