34A – “Act where we live, where we want and where we can”

Thursday 16:30. The time to put an end to the 12th edition of the World Forum has come. Three days during which the “super local” has dominated discussions and minds. To close this 2018 edition, Philippe Vasseur had invited a special guest: the ecologist, photographer, reporter and film producer Yann Arthus Bertrand. The closing plenary session began with the original soundtrack of “Home”, a movie realized by the latter. We can already feel the atmosphere changing.

We can all be “super-local”

Michael Shuman is the first one to take the stage: “Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s Super-local man!” His entrance is a success: people are laughing. The co-founder of BALLE wanted to give a message to everyone in the room: we can all be super-local man and super-local woman. But for this, we have to answer to seven questions. How to be a good resident, a local consumer, an ambitious investor, a better entrepreneur, how to measure the social business, create an international partnership and be a global citizen? “If you answer to these seven questions, you will be magnificent”. A message of hope: for Michael Shuman, “everything we do is significant”.

The international is local

A hope which is supported by photos from all over the world. A gift for Yann Arthus Bertrand, which is transformed in something optimistic in the room. We are seeing people helping each other after a deadly fire in Chili, a woman getting back returnable bottles: an example of circular economy at a local level. In Melbourne, there is a movement of arrangement of urban spaces; in La Baie de la Canche a development policy is going well since 2009 as people can only travel by feet or bicycle. In India, we can see a farmer benefiting from a program for improving the productivity of local producers. People in other countries are doing “super-local”: all these actions are possible at a local level. Now, we have to take example and put in practice what we heard during those three days to do something bigger at a national and international level.

“Only love will change the world”

A picture of trees making a heart appeared on the screens. Yann Arthus Bertrand is taking place on the stage. He started by telling us the story of his life: how he became a photographer and reporter, how all the things he has seen made him loving the nature, the people and more generally the planet. He reminded us important numbers: when he began to study lions, there were 400 000, now they are less than 20 000. Elephants were 20 million at the beginning of the last century, now they are only 350 000 to live on earth: “the time we are talking now, two elephants are died”. A picture of the Kilimanjaro without snow on its top: “The Kilimanjaro’s eternal snow, no comments”. The military budget of the world is 1 800 billiard of dollars per year: “do you imagine what we could do with this budget?” asked the photographer. Yes, maybe we could save the planet. Then, he told us one thing that most people didn’t realize: fossil fuel is the first cause of climate change, but in the COP 21 report, there no mention of fossil fuel at all. “There is a kind of hypocrisy in politician discourses today”.

All these facts came with beautiful pictures. “The worst source of pollution becomes graphic and something beautiful to photograph” remarked the photographer sadly. Now Yann Arthus Bertrand had the attention of everyone in the room.

After this, it is the movie maker who stood. He decided to play some extracts from his film “Human”. The session took another dimension at this moment.

The video began with the intervention of the ancient Uruguayan president José Mujica, who spent 10 years of his life in a hole, including seven without reading one book. “That left me time to think. And this is what I discovered: life is one thing money can’t buy.” With this extract, Yann Arthus Betrand wanted to pass a message: we, as representing the whole society, have to change in order to live better. We have to be more responsible.

With the second video, Yann Arthus Bertrand decided to point the politicians directly. “Who is going to help us? The politicians? My children are dying!” is exclaiming a woman living in extreme poverty. The atmosphere is becoming grave and people in the audience are realizing how lucky they are to sit here. Misery is everywhere around us, but we are pretending not seeing it.

And that is when the ecologist decided to play an extract of his next film called “woman” that the emotion attained its paroxysm. Some people in the audience are crying in silence when hearing the story of this French woman who has been sexually aggressed and hit by a man almost ten years ago. We can clearly see that she is still destroyed by what happened to her.

The video stopped. A moment of silence is spreading in the room. Then the French ecologist, still in tears, spoke: “being ecologist, this is loving the trees, but also loving people. Only love will change the world.”

The public stood and applauded for a long time, with a lot of emotion.

The 12th edition of the World Forum closed on the words of Philippe Vasseur: “act where we live, where we want and where we can”. There is still hope in this world, but we have to wake up now.