“Share the expertise that we have to support the youth in their thinking”
Published on 04 July 2021 by NEOMA
- Master in Management
Last January, many students came to listen to Jean-François Julliard, executive director of Greenpeace France, on NEOMA’s Rouen campus. At a time when the young generation aspires to take on meaningful professions, his talk had particular resonance. Here is the interview.
What links does Greenpeace have with higher education?
While we don’t have a partnership with any specific institution, we have a lot of interactions with academia. We receive numerous invitations to conferences, seminars and all types of events where our expertise can offer greater insight for students. I would say that these connections have expanded over the last few years.
First, it is due to the current situation, which unfortunately is going through many crises: climate, ocean protection and the current pandemic. Also, this expansion responds to the deep-seated concerns of students. For us, supporting their pursuit of knowledge, sharing our experiences, our actions and giving them the tools to better understand the world is our priority concern.
THE CLIMATE FIGHT HAS EXPERIENCED SKIPS IN GENERATIONS, WITH SOME OF THEM TAKING UP THIS CONCERN MUCH MORE THAN OTHERS
Is the young generation as committed to these topics as we claim it is?
It certainly is. Historically, the climate fight has experienced skips in generations, with some of them taking up this concern much more than others. It’s what we are currently seeing with young people from ages 18 to 25. We first noticed it by observing in the past 5 or 6 years perceptible changes in their food consumption behaviour, with some becoming vegetarian or vegan for different reasons, one being the protection of the environment. A bit later, we attended the famous young person’s march for climate action, which quickly exploded as never seen before.
THE YOUNG PEOPLE’S MARCH FOR CLIMATE ACTION QUICKLY EXPLODED AS NEVER SEEN BEFORE
How did you support this movement?
We provided support to all those who wanted it. We of course applaud this effort, while pointing out that it is the initiative of the youth and it must remain so. When they ask us for advice, we assist them. We can share information because some subjects are very technical, and we also offer our event and campaign organisation expertise as well as legal advice. In some cases, we can also provide financial support. When Greta Thunberg came to France, for example, her movement needed train tickets so young people in Europe could attend. She asked us as well as other partners.
CSR is an umbrella term for a lot of different issues. What do you think of this concept?
Putting these subjects together is, for us, proof of how interconnected they are. The problem is actually that organisations tend to treat these issues separately. For us, issues concerning the climate, gender equality and equal opportunities cannot be broken up. One action taken on one of these topics will always have an impact on the others. We should have a more holistic approach to these questions.
Discussions about CSR are in full swing. How can you help students separate real company commitments from greenwashing?
I must admit that that’s hard! Today, even when going through a company’s activity report, it’s difficult to know what it is really doing about it CSR initiatives. I would advise young people to expand their sources of information. A lot of media outlets now have alerts on the good and bad practices of companies.
Another good way is to directly contact their employees. Those who work for them every day know better than anyone what is happening inside the company.
Will the Covid crisis have a positive impact on the climate fight?
I think that, unfortunately, we can’t count on a radical change coming from covid. For a time we hoped that it would, but instead we have the impression that the old world is being saved rather a new one being created. Certainly, re-launch plans focus somewhat on these issues, but not enough, however, to create a real transformation. In the general public, I think that a lot of people feel that, if nothing changes, humans will be exposed more and more to crises like this. But the link between Covid and the environment is a complex topic, for which there is still not a scientific consensus. So we need to remain prudent and continue to share the expertise that we have to support the youth in their thinking.
GREENPEACE a vision shared by
230,000 members in France and 3 million around the world.
It operates in 55 countries and has 36,000 volunteers.