Thursday 25 May: a focused look at the climate
Arriving just in time as ‘The Nest’ stage goes dark, we grab the last vacant seats. On the stage, a figure stands out, then a second: The Minuit12 collective opens, and we’re off! Change Now 2023 can begin. Santiago Lefebvre, its founder, reminds us that we are not only here for global warming, but also about the collapse of biodiversity, the depletion of resources and for matters of inclusion. The transition must concern humanity as a whole! Four immense challenges ahead. To contribute to this, this sixth edition honours art, as essential to building new pathways for a sustainable and desirable future. Wisdom too: This year it prefaces all speeches, starting with a quote from Mathieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk and founder of Karuna Schechen, "Altruism is the most pragmatic response to the challenges of our time."
“Imagination helps shape the future and society of tomorrow. Artists are in the best position to challenge current mindsets and support organisations in their evolution,” Alice Audouin, president and founder of Art of Change 21.
The point is clear: The transition must leave no one behind. This is also the belief of Kate Raworth, famous for her “Donut Theory”, which closely links environmental integrity and social justice issues. The ecological economist is convinced that our economic models must be entirely rethought around a single objective: To be regenerative and distributive. She wonders "Why do companies that place sustainability and respect for all forms of life at the heart of their business model remain exceptions?”
"Why do companies that place sustainability and respect for all forms of life at the heart of their business model remain exceptions?”
How can we convince others to fully engage in this transition? For Sandrine Dixson Declève, co-president of the Club of Rome, there is no stopping: she calls for immediate and fairer regulation of economic activities, coordinated collective action and strong signals from politicians. “Otherwise, we will face growing instability and rising populism. Fear is growing, even though there is hope.”
Restoring ecology and peace
Environmental degradation and climate change are having an increasing impact on the global dynamics of peace and security. It's all about political instability on the “The Collective” stage. A conference, organised in partnership with the Kofi Annan Foundation, focuses on maintaining peace and democracy through pioneering initiatives in social entrepreneurship, justice and access to information. All these actions, or even micro actions, are intended to combat both environmental degradation and the difficulties of managing natural resources causing many of today’s tensions.
Tech, driving change
Technology provides valuable help in measuring, reducing, committing and optimising carbon emissions. It enables the collection and processing of millions of data points and promotes energy efficiency, which is a key strategic issue at a time when energy consumption is increasing. “More data means more templates and more efficiency,” says David Glijer, Head of Digital Transformation at Arcelor Mittal . “Imagination has no limits, there are many solutions to improve energy efficiency in industry, transport and buildings,” says Fanny Picard, founder of the Alter Equity Impact Investment Fund and pioneer in responsible finance. “We can have hope, even if we first need to change behaviour.”
there are many solutions to improve energy efficiency in industry, transport and buildings
Datas behind any decision
To change behaviour, the right information must circulate. Jean Noël Barrot, Minister Delegate for Digital Transition and Telecommunications, highlights the key role of data collection in providing citizens/consumers with the right information to make the right decisions: "With the right tools and a fair distribution of effort, behaviours can change.”Individual behaviours can therefore change for the better, business habits too. For Anouchka Didier Mansour, director of sustainable development at Cartier House, change must be driven and embodied by leaders.
On the ‘The Nest’ scene, collaboration between economic players is in question. Large companies have the power to work with startups to create innovative solutions, such as VoiceItt, an inclusive voice recognition software supported by Microsoft, as part of its Microsoft Entrepreneurship for Positive Impact Program, which helps entrepreneurs resolve the most urgent challenges facing our world.
Friday 26 May: For a just transition
This second day starts with an intense session of pitches around the theme "Food and Agriculture” on the Garden Stage. Start-up Moree offers reusable food packaging, Climate Farmers helps develop regenerative farms, Green Spot Technology offers a response to food waste, Magnotherm builds highly efficient and sustainable cooling and heating solutions based on magnetic materials, etc. “We're changing the world one solution at a time," says Lefebvre at the opening ceremony. The good news? The solutions are numerous.
We must develop indicators for biodiversity as we did for co2
Investing massively in the transition
How can we ensure the exit from fossil fuels while maintaining financial security and making a fair transition? This is the question asked on the Eiffel stage. François Gemenne, specialist in climate governance and migration, director of the Hugo Observatory at the University of Liège, said "The level of investment in environmental transition in southern countries remains dramatically inadequate. As long as there is no significant transfer of technology, massive investment in renewable energy by the countries of the South, they will have no choice but to exploit fossil fuels. For a fair transition, we must look beyond our borders and not only reduce our own emissions but reduce emissions on a global scale.”
"For a fair transition, we must look beyond our borders and not only reduce our own emissions but reduce emissions on a global scale.”
Saturday 27 May: Sharing a message of hope
This last morning, the Grand Palais Ephémère is still quiet. It's time to meet with OS Climate, a nonprofit organisation that puts in place an Open Source Collaborative Community to build a data and software platforms for financial investment, business and regulation, aligned with the climate targets of the Paris Agreement. It aims to fill the gaps that prevent capital from being directed towards a resilient Net-zero economy, by facilitating data research and analysis. An ambitious programme supported by BNP Paribas. The Group is leading the development of the Physical Risk & Resilience Modelling Tool, which enables stakeholders to identify and quantify risks related to climate resilience, using asset vulnerability models that use forecasting the probability and severity of extreme climate events.
Democratising the transition, bringing people togetherThe conferences continue to mobilise a large and attentive audience. At the center, a round table: Democratising the transition. And one question: Who are the people who work on a daily basis to make the ecological transition accessible and understandable by all?
This is the mission that Francisco Vera, very young founder of Guardianes Por La Vida, has given himself. “The climate crisis is not just a climate crisis - it is also a threat to biodiversity and humans, but one cannot remain inactive. Critical education is crucial.” That's why his organisation educates children about climate change, creating an eco-hope for future generations.
A vibrant message: hope and courage
Hope. It is on this message that the 2023 edition of ChangeNOW ends. Calling for solidarity in protecting the Amazon Forest, which is home to millions of people, including Raoni himself, who stands on stage at the closing ceremony to share a vibrant message of hope and courage.At his side, Chiefs Tapi and Watakalu have a parting message of protecting lasting heritage: "We're going to heal the world together. [...] If we are here today, it's because if you want to protect the environment, we need your support.”
ChangeNOW is coming to an end, but the way to create a positive transformation in the world is open, and many solutions exist, to change now.