Françoise Guichard, Senior Vice President – Sustainable Development, GDF SUEZ discusses the lessons learnt from Rio
- What are the lessons you can learn from Rio+20?
Over and above the advances, and the limits, of the conference communiqué, which have already been widely discussed, I would highlight that Rio+20 demonstrated the considerable involvement of civil society - both NGOs and companies. Cities, companies and NGOs came together to exchange their views, present the progress already made and make commitments for the future; I think this was essential. Another bonus, compared to other conferences, was the better balance between social, economic and environmental aspects. The focus on development and poverty also reflected the growing economic and political power of emerging nations.
Another positive point, over and above increased recognition of the social element of sustainable development, was the inclusion of the economy in consideration of new modes of consumption and production. The recognition of the need for companies to play a role and to be involved, alongside other members of civil society, is a real step forward. For us, this will strengthen our position as a company developing solutions and driving change, as well as reinforce the actions we have already taken, particularly in the development of public-private partnerships. It will also help build the dialogue already established between the Group, NGOs and communities.
- What part did GDF SUEZ play?
GDF SUEZ was heavily involved in the preparatory works for Rio+20 and was well represented during the Civil Society Days. These events gave the Group a chance to meet NGOs, communities and local government representatives to discuss joint projects. As President of Global Compact France, Gérard Mestrallet spoke on the topic of access to energy during the Global Compact days and the Business Action for Sustainable Development day. As a member of the France Rio+20 Club and Official Partner of the French Pavilion at Rio+20, GDF SUEZ organised a series of events where Group representatives and local teams were able to discuss the following topics with our partners: access to essential services; green growth; the city of tomorrow; and sustainable solutions in Brazil. SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT was also well represented in discussions of access to water and waste management, with presentations from Jean-Louis Chaussade at the UCLG (United Cities and Local Government) and BASD (Business Action for Sustainable Development) Business Days. Rio+20 was also a chance for GDF SUEZ to demonstrate its commitment to creating innovative social projects such as the launch of Fondation Agir Contre l’Exclusion (FACE, a foundation tackling exclusion) in Brazil, dialogue with local communities on access to energy and its support of the Vale Encantado (Enchanted Valley) Festival in the hills above Rio.
- Looking specifically at access to energy, what have you achieved with your “GDF SUEZ Rassembleurs d’Energies” initiative?
To address the specific issue of access to energy for all, in 2011 the Group launched GDF SUEZ Rassembleurs d’Energies. This innovative initiative, which seeks to establish access to sustainable energy for poor populations in developing countries and reduce energy poverty in developed countries, has presented its annual report to the international community meeting at Rio+20. To the purpose, we have chosen to dedicate this special edition of Sustain@bility to GDF SUEZ Rassembleurs d’Energies: its development, actions and ambitions.
Find out more about GDF SUEZ at Rio+20:
Find out more about Rio+20: http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.html
(Source: GDF Suez)
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12 July 2012