He is one of the apostles of humanistic ecology. Photographer, journalist reporter, director, Founding President of the GoodPlanet Foundation, Yann Arthus-Bertrand talks about his new challenge as a filmmaker.
In line with his testimonial films (more than 10,000 interviews collected around the world), after 6 billion Others (2004), Human (2015), Woman (2020) and Legacy (2021) he launched, with Les 150, in a project that will perhaps mark the history of our country and of the climate fight.
What does your Les 150 film project consist of ?
This is a film of interviews on the 150 citizens who were drawn by lot, representatives of French society, within the framework of the Citizen's Convention for the Climate *. I want to highlight those who took the time to think about concrete proposals for our future. This is a great first in France, notably at the initiative of Cyril Dion and the Gilets Citoyens collective. The only way for this initiative to work is for the debates not to remain at the heart of the 150, but to reach all French people. We must evolve towards a dynamic of generational solidarity. With the current health context, the film will surely fall behind. But overall I remain quite positive. I am convinced that this citizens' convention is the start of a new environmental policy.
What particularly interests you about this film-interview format?
To see these citizens evolve, to know what they have learned, what marked them. And thank them of course. How did their awareness come about? How did their families react? Environmentalists tend to forget that there are people who don't know anything about ecology. This style of interview provides more than a written testimony. Some were climate skeptics at first. I am sure that this citizens' convention has changed their lives a little. I would like them to tell me.
At the GoodPlanet Foundation, do the many companies that support you ask you for advice ?
There is indeed a whole CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) program at the Foundation. We support certain companies on various subjects in order to limit their environmental impact (carbon emissions, product life cycle, sourcing, etc.). But we are not in the hard business. We are not economists. Here, everyone decides according to their convictions!
Do you believe in political ecology ?
I believe in ecology, period. Everyone works in their area of influence. But I think we are prisoners of our religion and our myth of growth. This tyranny returns today, along with the anxiety of unemployment. But yes, definitely, we have to fight against growth as we know it today.
We were asking you this in view of the departure of Nicolas Hulot's government in August 2018.
Indeed, it is an almost impossible function. Ecology should be a common denominator for all parties. If you're not an activist, you pretty much get away with it. But if you are an activist, how can you fight, for example, against the hunters' lobby? Nicolas Hulot was surely not made for that and I wouldn't be made for that either. It is very difficult to be in compromise all the time. Being a green minister is a bit of a religion of compromise. I think Nicolas Hulot just didn't accept.
Do you think that ‘degrowth’ is a sine qua non for a better tomorrow ?
We are heading - inevitably - towards degrowth. So we might as well accept it and prepare for it. All good initiatives are necessary. The younger generations are well aware that we are on the cusp of a new world, that the current world is a little finished. I see a very strong energy in young entrepreneurs who want to make sense of what they do. It has become a top priority. They are well aware that today you can no longer work just to earn money.
Is there a universal, flagship, emblematic figure who inspires you?
Greta Thunberg. For me, that's her. She is incredible. So young, having created a planetary movement. I also greatly admire the anonymous people, the volunteers who work for Emmaüs, the Restos du Coeur, the Samu Social, etc. Everyone who engages, shares, loves, without telling anyone;
Alexandra Corsi Chopin