Earth Day (22 April) celebrates its 50th anniversary with the theme of "climate action" because climate change is the greatest challenge for the future of the planet. Earth Day aims to demonstrate the need to take action and deliver for the environment. To mark the occasion, together with the Usbek & Rica foresight magazine, Veolia is launching its "Wednesday events": a series of interviews with experts on the theme of "And tomorrow: double or nothing for ecology?". These reflections will compare political, social and environmental approaches: they will question the place of the ecological crisis we are experiencing in view of the present unprecedented health and economic crisis. And tomorrow: double or nothing for ecology?
Veolia is working to devise "the world afterwards": at a time when the global economy has been brought to a halt by the COVID-19 pandemic, all eyes are already turning to the "world afterwards", but with contradictory injunctions. On one hand, production and consumption systems need to be reactivated in order to cushion the economic crisis. On the other hand, a radical paradigm shift calls for a more sober economy. Scientists believe that pandemics will recur if we do not put an end to our ecocidal practices. Our model of society must change. We have to ensure that economic recovery does not wipe out all our efforts to protect the planet. The environmental crisis must galvanize us as much as the health crisis.
The first three speakers for these new "Wednesday events"
- Dominique Bourg, honorary professor at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland), will talk about political ecology: is the COVID-19 epidemic yet another warning from nature about the destruction of our ecosystems? Will we return to the "world before"? Will the end of the crisis polarize society with a new social crisis?
> Listen to the podcast
- Julia Marton Lefèvre, former Director-General of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, will address the instrumentalization of living things by humans which is responsible for the present pandemic. Are we ready to change our economic model for the sake of our own health with an anthropocentric and short-sighted understanding? Should we change our relationship with living things in order to accelerate the ecological transition? How can we avoid returning to an economy that destroys the environment?
- The Veolia Chairman and CEO Antoine Frérot believe the current crisis should help us to highlight the vulnerabilities in our economic models. All businesses today need to rethink their activities and operations to make them more resilient and increasingly useful to society. This crisis is an opportunity. We must be aware that the state of our planet is not unrelated either to the current crisis or to those that will certainly come. The ecological crisis continues to be a priority that cannot be neglected, even if, today, the top priority is, of course, to resolve the health crisis. Environmental crises, such as the climate or biodiversity crisis, are in fact long-term. Their impacts are of a more irreversible kind. We should now take advantage of this unique context to radically rethink our modes of production and consumption.
Upcoming Wednesday events:
Julia Marton-Lefèvre, on 29/04. Antoine Frérot, on 06/05. Podcasts of these interviews will be available on the veolia.com website.
Veolia makes a concrete commitment to a green recovery
Antoine Frérot signed the call for a Green Recovery launched on 14 April at the initiative of the MEP Pascal Canfin who chairs the European Parliament's Environment and Public Health Committee. This call for a green recovery has already been signed by more than 120 decision-makers:
"We are calling for a global alliance of policymakers, business and finance leaders, trade unions, NGOs, think tanks and stakeholders to support and implement green recovery and biodiversity investment packages that will accelerate the transition to climate neutrality and healthy ecosystems. COVID-19 will not make climate change and nature degradation go away. We will not win the fight against COVID-19 without a solid economic response. Let’s not oppose those two battles, but let’s fight and win them at the same time. By doing so, we will only be stronger together.”