“What we need today is new narratives that gives hope”
Rose-May Lucotte is the co-founder of ChangeNOW, a key player and facilitator of the environmental and social transition, which for the past 3 years has been organizing the biggest summit for planet solutions. After graduating from EM Lyon, she began a career in marketing before leaving this position to embark on the ChangeNOW Adventure. Last October, she guested in Centre Georges Pompidou to our "100+ reasons to love the future" event dedicated to women. She made us aware of the importance of the cooperation between private, public and citizen players, the role of new narratives in accelerating the ecological and social transition.
I remember my first business school class. It was 18 years ago and I remember clearly when the teacher asked “what is the primary mission of a company ?”. After letting his students think about it for a short time, he said in a tone like an offer you cannot refuse “the primary mission of a company is to maximize profit”. And that was it.
I was 20 at the time and I just could not imagine that the next 40 years of my life would be devoted to such a cold mission. So a new quest began for me at the time. A quest for the meaning I would give to my life as well as to my career and the companies I would join.
So I started working for eight years in healthcare marketing before embarking in a new entrepreneurial journey serving companies for whom profit is not an end in itself but a means to accomplish a greater mission. We call these companies "our heroes of change" because their mission is to act towards a more sustainable and more humane world.
It was for me quite a logical step when I launched ChangeNow in 2017 in a mission to accelerate the development of "our heroes of change". ChangeNOW is a summit that has become in few years the world's largest event of solutions for the planet. Every year we gather 1,000 solutions that come from all over the world. We gather also around them 30,000 participants, including investors, media, talents, elected representatives, top Executives but also ministers, experts scientists, artists, activists, indigenous people and the general public. I mean people who, in a way, do not usually cross path naturally. What is more exciting in the corporate world that seeing polarization be broken ? That people who can be presented as opposites can be seen talking together ?
Speaking for myself, I strongly believe that the role of cooperation is essential in the transition. Let me give you some examples : we saw at ChangeNOW the president of the COP15 to Combat desertification encounter for the first time the president of the Great Green Wall Initiative - a huge project to revegetate Africa from East to West. Fact is they were not collaborating together.
We also saw an ocean protection fund raise its first million euro and become in few years the world's largest ocean protection fund thanks, in particular, to the meetings they did at the ChangeNOW summit. We saw so many startups, innovators, collaborate with major groups and then go Global in 20-25 countries, reaching millions of households.
So many solutions exist. Many innovations and entrepreneurs are here now. What they need is to be supported, to be discovered and their solutions to be adopted. Beside cooperation there is also something else: today we strongly need enthusiasm. We must have the desire to see the transition happen, the desire to take part in this ecological transition. We must aspire to see the future in a positive way. Rational, statistical talks, they are essential but they are no longer enough to get people moving. Worse still, they can stun, frighten and cause people to lose hope. What we need today is new narratives that give back hope. New narratives that can inspire.
Take for example the adoption curve of a product, an idea or the ecological transition. Well, the speeches that have worked for the early adopters do not really work to win over the majority. This is what we call the Moore’s chasm*. And to cross over the chasm, we need to rethink the way of talking about the transition. This is the reason why we need to find new narratives today.
The " 100+ reasons to love the future " event has been an opportunity to talk about new narratives. In the same spirit, it is the reason why we have actually created ChangeNOW. This showcases solutions and new narratives of a desirable and sustainable world that can exist. These new narratives are presented in a positive, enthusiastic way.
My reason to love the future is to see every year thousands of individuals and companies committed for a better world. Thousands of men and women who want to act and put all their intelligence at the service of what I think is the greatest challenge Humanity has ever faced. We actually all know that for every tenth of a degree of global warming we avoid, we save millions of lives and species. So do not be frighten: we can still act and we need to act!
I will give you an example of something that happened at ChangeNOW. It is the kind of story that gives hope. It is a Slovenian solution called Planet Care, which develops microfiber plastic filters for washing machines. Fact is each time you do a washing cycle you release microplastics in the water. These very microplastics go into the sewage system before going into the ocean. As a result, most of the pollution of the ocean is due to these rejects of microplastics. Planet Care came to ChangeNOW in 2020 and they met Brune Poirson who was at the time the Secretary of State for ecological and inclusive transition. This encounter led to the implementation a few months later of a new article of law stipulating that in France, from 2025, all new washing machines will have to be fitted with microplastic filters. A political decision that will save up to 500 tons of microplastics every year.
This example to illustrate that when we implement concrete actions alternatives can be founded. So let's take action together because with action comes hope ! As President Barack Obama said: we are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change… But we also are the last one who can do something to change it now.