11A - The tenth birthday of a big baby

Today was the tenth birthday of the World Forum for a Responsible Economy in Lille. For ten years now, the World Forum has aimed to spread good practices. Indeed as La Rochefoucauld claimed: "nothing is more contagious than experience ".
The opening conference was lead by Jean-Michel Lobry and gathered Philipe Vasseur, creator and president of the World Forum, Laurence Brahm, Antoine Frérot, and Jean-Michel Lobry.

This year, Réseau Alliances chose a global reflection focusing on what we should actually expect from firms.
Going beyond profitability which is the primary goal of the firm, the social role of the firm will be discussed throughout the different conferences and cities. Indeed, this edition's special feature is that the Worldforum will be held in five different cities, as an attempt to give back legitimacy to local systems and territories. In a fast changing world, the World Forum tries to promote a new economical model, fairer and more responsible with the aim enhance societal balance.

The firm, a tool that should promote the general good.

We are currently facing a paradox : firms are contested as wealth-creating entities by a growing part of the population, but as soon as one disappears, it is bitterly regretted.
To resolve this contradiction, Antoine Frérot, CEO of VEOLIA proposes to make sure that the firm does everything in its power to ensure the interest of the different stakeholders.
The firm, he claims really is the main creator of wealth, and therefore it should not only serve personal interests, but a general interest.

Any attempt of some categories of stakeholders to take advantage over others should be prevented. Hence, an end must be put to the shareholders domination over the workforce.
On the matter, Antoine Frérot made a groundbreaking declaration as he invited firms to include representations of public collectivities, localities, workforce and clients in Boards instead of only shareholders. To him, it is the guarantee of an increased quality in decision making at firm level.
The firm, architect of the environmental policies

We now face the need to "re-engeneer the concept of capitalism" said Laurence Brahm, CEO of Himalayan consensus. As many focus on increasing profit, we should actually be concerned with the survival of the planet in the next century, he says.

Greed is not the only way forward he assures. Truth is that "if we continue on the trajectory of our current system, the children of this generation won't have a future that's how bad it is" forecasts Laurence Brahm.
Environment preservation was a common ground position for both speakers. Indeed, Veolia CEO talks about protecting the resources we have while imagining innovative renewable resources.

States are more than welcome to join the effort to preserve our environment by both speakers who assess a big role to the authorities in encouraging good firm practice concerning environment. (China, who was once the biggest polluteur developped A nexw Policy concerning promotions OF political local leader : they can only get promoted If data shows chinese natural assets have been protected during their mandatéd : environmental accountability.)

What implications for the State?

The role that the state should play is another common ground for both speakers.
They believe that is the state that should build a favorable ecosystems for the firm since it is the main creator of wealth.
Frérot suggested that states should learn to "reward good students rather than punish bad ones" therefore creating incentives for the firms to develop responsible practices.

It was argued that the state leadership on responsible economy both on social and environmental matters is necessary .
Also, public authorities need to make sure corporate social responsibilities become a mainstream movement and not a cutting edge one.

It is about time to change the way we think, it is not because a firm is thriving that It is useful. It 's the other way around. And that's the idea the Worldforum tried to promote for the last 10 years, giving firms the capacity to increase their responsability and therefore prosperity .
Camille Bitton - ESPOL Lille