Chair of the Executive Committee of the Edmond de Rothschild Group, Ariane de Rothschild, speaks at the high-level opening plenary session from the first day of the Global Landscapes Forum 2015, in Paris, France alongside COP21.
The session explores the investments into sustainable landscapes that countries and private actors have already committed to – as well as the areas in which we need to scale up efforts.
Ariane de Rothschild speaks about the importance of investing in reforestation efforts.
Saturday, 5 December 2015
Global Landscapes Forum, Paris, France
I am very proud to be a representative here, as part of this panel, together with Emmanuel Faber representing the private sector. I see this as recognition of the work which the Rothschild Group has been doing for decades to protect the resources of our climate and to combat climate change.
I expect the conference in Paris to produce a global agreement to restrict climate change to a maximum of two degree increase, and to provide the poorest and the most exposed countries the wherewithal to combat climate change. I know this is a great challenge, but it’s up to the international community and the states to provide the cooperative and regulatory framework to organize the response to the challenge of climate change.
We as private players must see these restrictions turned into opportunities, to see dead ends become ways to open up, to see words become action. My family and my group have decided to carry out this work, and have done so for a long time now. With the answers that we can provide to challenges to climate change, we can see that the private sector must be the key player.
Our commitment is a long term commitment. Through our personal actions and initiatives which have been made by our financial group and our philanthropic organization, we are pursuing the same objectives. We want to make sure that we can have sustainable development so that we can promote progress of society and provide success for future generations. We are working in three different fields with personal, financial and philanthropic works. And these are major projects with true corporate social responsibility.
Philanthropy on its own is not enough, because there has to be a return, there has to be a profit. We have to have experiences that are fertile, which will provide input for each other for the different initiatives. This is why we think it is important to move into new fields of activity, to have our own risks so that other people can have their plans which do not involve risks, and so that they can see constraints and restrictions turning into opportunities.
Responsibility and value has a price. There is no project which is too small or too big. We must have determination for action, and it is on an everyday basis. I’ll give you an example – as I want to maintain and protect biodiversity in 500,000 hectares of forest in Africa, I’m also putting beehives on the roofs of our banks around Europe.
The head of our group, we’ve built up activity for capital investment in the historic work which my family has been involved in. We devised an idea 10 years ago with two new types of vehicles for land use, which is one of the major issues for the Global Landscapes Forum. One is for removing pollution from soil, and it’s designed to rehabilitate soil which has been damaged by major industrial pollution, so that it can be used for sustainable urban development. Putting emphasis on energy efficiency, we can see that the development there has had €300 million in investment.
We also have the Moringa agroforestry. We have been working on this since the last meeting in Copenhagen. We were working on deforestation, which is so important to stop climate change, which is 20 per cent attributable to deforestation. And we saw that this could not just be done through state subsidies because they are going down, and cannot just be done by philanthropy either. You have to see a number of sustainable projects which are long term and profitable.
These projects offer local communities an outgrowing, cooperative approach and gives them the tools for their own development. Moringa has been investing in Africa and South America in cooperative agriculture, forestry, and silvicultural and pastoral projects, and all the small farmers have been involved with it. This has helped reduce CO2 emissions and has helped combat poverty, with better production levels with traditional farming, and doing that to the benefit of the local communities.
Moringa is now being deployed and has a €80 million budget provided for it. And that is a lot in that category. But, of course, it’s not enough given what is at stake. Our objective is to make the first step forward – to test solutions and then expand on them. This fund has provided action and we want to set up a virtuous circle with sustainable development, social development, and economic development. This means that we have to have a long term vision, looking over a 10 to 20 year time period, so that we can have proper impact and a return on the investment.
This is a major challenge because this timeline is a long timeline for an investor. But even though the risks are high, it is our responsibility. It is our responsibility for all of us. Technological breakthroughs have seen change going faster and faster, and we can see this with different sectors, but everything has become global. As things come together in the world, the effects of our actions or the effects of our lack of action can be seen immediately.
We have a great hope for society around the world because we can now look at what is vital and work together so that we can take in negative externalities and make sure that our objectives converge. With such convergence, we will be able to have access to best practices regardless of the sector, and to get the best benefit from innovation as quickly as possible. In a converging world, sustainable development is a key.
Of course, companies and institutions funding development have to ensure that the investments they carry out include environmental, social and governance criteria which are sound. The group has seen support for the Montreal Carbon Pledge and the United Nations support for such sustainable development. And we’re working through this with conviction.
But, given the climate change challenges, we have to change scale. Nothing can be done if we don’t have public and private efforts pooled together to work together. Public-private partnerships exist in a number of sectors, and my group has some in Europe, Asia and Africa. But we need to encourage more of these to make sure that these are financially viable and to make sure there are more of them.
The public investors and public funding have a key role. They have to provide support and encouragement, but they also have to make sure that there is less uncertainty and make sure there is better coverage of risk. This is why we are setting up technical assistance facilities as part of our projects.
Private initiatives alone cannot do everything, given the challenge is considered to be $5 thousand billion per year in investment, if we’re going to have green growth over the years to come. For our part, we are working in close collaboration with a number of international public institutions. For example, with the World Environment Fund, the African Development Bank, European institutions such as the European Investment Bank, and of course French organizations such as the [French 7:52] and others.
But there are not enough public-private partnerships. We must have proper cooperation between the private sector and major public institutions. Whether these are multilateral development banks, multilateral investment banks, state agencies, or even local executives – these have to be built up. We can then get a leverage effect, particularly as the seed money and venture capital need to be provided at the level to be taken up for the challenge.
The challenge of climate change must put an end to sterile debate between the north and the south. Developed countries have historic responsibility and they cannot turn their back on it. Emerging countries and developing countries will see that they win the challenge or lose the challenge, but they have to have the right conditions for a stable approach to climate.
I would like to conclude in saying that we must be proactive and that I am optimistic. We know what is at stake. It’s not just our quality of life. It is our life itself. Together we must make the decisions required for the dramatic situation our planet is in at the moment. Today, I would like to call on everybody to rally to the cause so that we can be determined, courageous, and work in a spirit of cooperation. Everyone must make a move towards the others involved.
Thank you very much.