The Tocqueville Foundation – June 19th, 2020
Following the postponement of the third edition of The Tocqueville Conversations, a very rich discussion was nevertheless held on Friday, June 19, in the form of a videoconference. Moderated by Ana Palacio (former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain), this conversation brought together Andrew A Michta (Dean of the College of International and Security Studies at the George C. Marshall European Center), Pavel Fischer (President of the Commission for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Senate) and David Goldman (Essayist and Investor, Asian Times. Author of “You will be assimilated, China’s Plan to Sino-form the World”) on the following topic: Western truth, Chinese truth: The Transatlantic Alliance and the Challenge of China. As we go through a particularly trying year, as Jean-Guillaume de Tocqueville pointed out by way of introduction, China’s role on the world stage is increasingly being questioned.
Indeed, Andrew Michta started the discussion by recalling that since the end of the Cold War, China had become the main challenge for the United States and its European allies, first from a political and commercial point of view, and now militarily speaking. The fact that China is currently increasing its military force, coupled with the fact that its main ally remains Russia, requires the West to radically rethink its relations with China. While this is not a recent issue, the coronavirus crisis has shaken the world order and compressed the timeline.
David Goldman then insisted on the historic period we are experiencing today. According to him, the only way to avoid a dangerous Chinese assimilation is to build a transatlantic program designed to accelerate the development of technology (including research on hardware and artificial intelligence), in order to keep the West ahead from China. If the US is willing to invest money in this area and to set up ambitious partnerships with Europe, there is still time to outcompete China.
Pavel Fischer, on the other hand, reiterated the need for a united and coherent Europe in its approach to China. To this end, he pointed out that we still lack knowledge and expertise on Chinese culture and society, its history and language, which is not conducive to making good decisions. Today more than ever, Europe also needs an elite capable of thinking in a way that puts the common interests of the member states back at the center. According to them all, the coronavirus crisis proved that the countries forming the Transatlantic Alliance were too dependent on China and needed to work on reversing this harmful trend. Indeed, multilateralism will not be an option as long as China refuses to comply with international guidelines, including health regulations. That is the reason why Western governments have to be able to propose effective and profitable alternatives to companies currently dealing with China so that they can fall back on existing national potentials.
On January 20th, 2020, the Tocqueville Foundation in collaboration with the Abdul Latif Jameel
Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and Community Jameel, organized a forum on strategies for promoting
social inclusion of migrants, with a particular focus in Europe. The event featured the work of J-PAL’s
European Social Inclusion Initiative, and explored how philanthropy can harness the power of
rigorous evidence to effectively promote social inclusion for migrants.
The panel discussion examined the role that private and public actors can play in supporting policies
and programs that can help reduce social exclusion of migrants. The conversation focused on what
we have learned so far about the effectiveness of these programs, as well as how we think research
now underway by J-PAL research affiliates will transform policies in this area.
The debate was introduced by Fady Jameel; President of Community Jameel.
Jean-Christophe Laugée moderated the panel discussion.
Marc Gurgand, Scentific Director, J-PAL Europe, provided a review of the existing rigorous evidence
on fostering social inclusion for migrants and refugees and explained how new research can fill
pressing gaps in our understanding of this policy priority for many European countries.
Sule Alan, Professor of Economics, European University Institute – spoke of her research in Turkey
examining the most effective ways to promote the inclusion of Syrian refugees in Turkish schools.
Johan Bäckström, Managing Director, Kompis Sverige – Mr. Bäckström presented how Kompis
Sverige’s “Swedish buddy” program experience was designed to promote migrants’ language skills
and sense of belonging
Anna Schrimpf, Executive Director, J-PAL Europe, closed the discussion by explaining what kinds of
insights the European Social Inclusion Initiative aimed to produce in the next five years and how
these could transform inclusion efforts
Prince’s Prize, January 20th, 2020
I’m reminded today of the words, “Where you live should not determine whether you live.” I didn’t say that. It was the rock star, Bono who I think is your sometimes neighbor here in Monaco. He wrote that. And when he wrote it, it was true. It’s never been more true than it is today.
I was born in a place where we didn’t worry about whether or not we would make it to the next year. I was born in the United States and my family had the privilege of using the wheels of commerce to generate as much wealth as we ever needed.
My dad became involved in the development of a couple of ski areas you might have heard of west of Denver called Winter Park and Vail. It was in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s and my father made a small fortune. And then he realized the truth of something that we don’t talk about much today. That is that you can be rich and not happy.
Just because you’re rich doesn’t make you unhappy. The problem is, there’s very little correlation between the two. Well before Bill and Melinda Gates, my mom and dad started a foundation and they gave all their money away. It was out of that seed of philanthropy that Project C.U.R.E. grew from their garage in a little town called Evergreen just west of Denver.
I had gone on to law school. We were involved in mergers and acquisitions at the company that I was working with. And I decided that the track for my life would be finance and hedge funds in New York. So, I went back and earned a PhD in Finance – which is way too much math for a lawyer to ever have to know.
My father came to me and he said, “Young man, I could use some help.” I pledged to my dad that I would come and help the family in our little effort for about six months. That was 23 years ago that we’ve been doing healthcare work together.
A lot has changed. What started in my mom and dad’s garage in 1987, now they tell me at places like USAID and DFID that we’re the largest donor of medical supplies and equipment by volume anywhere in the world. Today, we have warehouses that we’re operating in six cities across the United States. There are big distribution warehouses in Denver, in Phoenix, in Nashville, in Houston, in Chicago, in Philadelphia and soon to be Kansas City. We will ship around 200 40-foot containers of medical supplies and equipment. Each one of those worth somewhere between $400,000 to $500,000.
In the communities where we work, the clients that we work with will work 12 hours and statistically they make about $2 a day, and they just can’t afford healthcare. That’s what we have set out to change at Project CURE and that’s what we work on every day.
There’s a central theme to what we do and one of those things that I fundamentally believe is that every one of us is here for a purpose. Mark Twain said it this way when he said, “The two most important days of your life are the day that you were born and the day that you figure out why.” We believe that everybody has a purpose.
One of the things that we did with Project C.U.R.E. was that we created an organization that is open to everyone. We will have 35,000 volunteers this year in those warehouses across the United States and I can tell you, that being the cheapskate that I am, we don’t heat those in the wintertime and in places like Chicago and Denver and it’s cold. Places like Houston and Phoenix in the summertime are hot. I tell my team that on average, if you add everything up, divided by two, it’s pretty pleasant.
Those 35,000 people have an opportunity to reach across the ocean and touch the lives of people that they’ll never meet because we created an organization that welcomes them.
I didn’t know 25 years ago what would be SDG number 17. But partnership is exactly that goal personified. We partner with our friends when we provide the recipient donations.
We’ve never gone anywhere where we haven’t been invited and we start every one of our projects with a Needs Assessment, which means that somebody from my team goes to that rural hospital, to that big city hospital, to those little clinics, and we sit down with an 18-page questionnaire. We start with the easy stuff like just the demographics. How many people are in this catchment area?
Then we get more specific. How many doctors and nurses do you have? How many of those doctors and nurses are trained as surgeons? If I send you equipment, who’s going to fix it? Where do you get the supplies? Tell me about your power grid.
I used to ask, “Do you have power?” They would look at me like I was silly. They’d say, “Well, our lights are on.” Now I ask them, “Do you have a generator?” The answer is yes. “How many times does the generator come on?” The right answer is “never.”
We learn these things and we go back and we create the contents. We pack those contents into the 40-foot containers based on what those people need. And we give it away.
We’ve learned some things. I could tell you stories all day long about the mistakes that I’ve made leading this organization and the things that we’ve learned. Of the things that we’ve learned, I’ll just focus on this one because it has to do not only with SDG 3, but also SDG 5, gender equality.
We will go on our Needs Assessments into these communities where people are just trying to survive. We’ll talk to a mom who’s pregnant and we know that the thing that’s going to make the difference in her life is whether or not she can get medical care. We tell her, “What we need you to do is we need you to come to the hospital and we need you to get prenatal checkup. We want to test you for AIDS and STDs. We want to test you for anemia. We want to find out if you have eclampsia because if they don’t get those tests, it just repeats a very bad cycle.”
That mom will look you in the eye and ask you the most logical question you ever heard. “Why would I want to go to the hospital? Everybody I’ve ever known that went to that hospital died.” There are no supplies and no equipment. The doctors are frustrated and they don’t stay. And we just continue to repeat the cycle.
That happens all over the world, friends. Those are the challenges that we have when we seek to meet the SDG goals that we have in front of us today. I can tell you that we can make a difference and we can revolutionize some of that.
About five years ago, I got involved with a group – Dr. Naveen Rao from Merck Pharmaceuticals, Claudia Conlon at USAID, Bert Peterson at the American Academy of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Christy Turlington from Every Mother Counts, and myself. We sat down and we looked at the four worst places to be a mom in Uganda and the four worst places to be a mom in Zambia.
Can we just pause parenthetically here? I just want to make a formal recognition of Geoffrey Kent and the work that you have done around the world. Project C.U.R.E. has work together with Abercrombie and Kent in places like Zambia and Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Cambodia and other places. It’s one thing to talk about doing something great with your company to change the world. It’s another thing to establish an office and hire someone whose responsibility it is to carry out your corporate social responsibility work. That’s exactly what Geoffrey Kent did with hiring Mr. Keith Sproule.
I have been in the A&K trucks, in those A&K Land Cruisers and driven out into the Maasai Villages where they don’t have any medical supplies. We have delivered C.U.R.E. Kit bags, $2500 at a time worth of basic supplies – gauze, gloves, needles, syringes, sutures – to help sustain those people and to save their lives. Congratulations to you, my friend. You do good work.
So we went to those four communities in Zambia and the four communities in Uganda and we said, “What if we could reduce maternal mortality by 50%?” In this community in Monaco, I think it’s around four per 100,000 live births which is very, very low. Very good. In the communities where I work, it’s around 1,000 per live birth per 100,000 live births.
Could you reduce it by 50%? Almost to a person, everyone said, “No you can’t.” We did. It took us about five years. In Zambia, we reduced maternal mortality by 48%. In Uganda, it was 53%. We launched the program Cross River State in Nigeria and I just learned at the beginning of this week that the number was a 63% reduction in mortality for these moms.
It’s 2020, the fact that a mom would lose her life trying to give life to her baby is wrong. That’s healthcare. That’s gender equality. Gender equality starts in the maternity ward and that’s what we have to do. That’s the challenge that we have.
It was Albert Schweitzer who said, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but there’s one thing I do know. The only ones among you who will ever be truly happy are those who seek and find ways to serve other people.”
That, Prince Albert and Mr. de Tocqueville is why you’re at this table. I see you looking to serve other people. That’s what philanthropy is about and that’s why you’re here and that’s why this is a very happy group of people. Because the work you’re doing is making a difference in this world.
Your Highness, Mr. de Tocqueville, thank you for this honor. On behalf of Dana and myself, my mom and dad who are in great health by the way, and our small team – we only have about 35 employees, but there are 35,000 people across the United States – who have worked hard to touch hands and link arms with people all over this world and make a difference. On behalf of all of those people, thank you for this honor. God bless you. Thank you.
On January 20th , 2020, the Tocqueville Foundation, in collaboration with the Prince Albert II of
Monaco Foundation, are holding the 10th Roundtable on Philanthropy at the Yacht Club of Monaco,
to discuss on the relevance of the Sustainable Development Goals in philanthropic activities today.
Exceptionally, this forum will be extended in the afternoon by a roundtable on the integration of
migrants, animated in collaboration with Community Jameel and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty
Action Lab (J-PAL).
Ever since 2011, every January, businesses, non-profits and renown philanthropists have gathered in
Monaco to discuss the main social issues of our time, and the different ways philanthropic initiatives
could act to build a better world.
Today marks the 10th Anniversary of the Prince’s Roundtable on Philanthropy, and far
- 10 years of a joint initiative: built out of the friendship between Jean-Guillaume de
Tocqueville and HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, the Prince’s Roundtables have gathered
philanthropic initiatives all around the world, bridging leadership and building trust among its
- 10 years of constructive dialogue: speakers included major thinkers of the political,
economic and social sciences. Esther Duflo, 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics, and Kurt
Wüthrich, 2002 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, among other prestigious guests, were given the
floor to improve their peers’ knowledge on how philanthropy could affect the world.
- 10 years of rewarding leadership: in 2014, for the first time, the Tocqueville Foundation and
the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation have awarded a Prize to a person and initiative
whose philanthropic action has had a substantial impact. 7 laureates have since then been
honored, and our 8th Prince’s Prize Laureate will be announced shortly!
- 10 years of a joint initiative: built out of the friendship between Jean-Guillaume de
Check out our video to learn more:
Conversations on “The Future of Nations” were held on June 28 and 29,
under the aegis of Alexis de Tocqueville at Tocqueville Château.
This event was a great
success with 200 guests from many countries of the world, gathered in this
“little corner of isolated land, lost in the hedges and meadows of our
Normand bocage”, as Tocqueville wrote in his time about his beloved
The Château de
Tocqueville was the scene of lively exchanges. We wanted to address the crisis
of democracy from a different perspective, by focusing our gaze on « The
Future of Nations ». For years, nations seemed condemned to become ever
weaker. The nation was a dying concept, destined to melt away. The emergence of
supranational institutions and transnational structures undermined the very
sovereignty of the nation states. Nations, however, seem to be making a
comeback these days as the « Home to defend » from the disruption of
globalization. We need look no further than the America First, Italy First, and
« Brexit » Movements for confirmation. Nations are suddenly being
seen as a protective structure in a world where nothing seems stable.
Our purpose, therefore, was to evaluate the relevance
of nations in tackling the multiple challenges facing our democracies, giving a
special focus to the big issue of the moment, immigration and borders. Coming
just after the results of the European elections, this concern was particularly
relevant. We also devoted attention to the role of nations in the international
system, and the limits to that role, in our new and growingly abrasive
multipolar world. We intended to take a special look at the relationship between
nations and global business. We also addressed the relevance of the Western
world and the transatlantic relationship, as their position and democratic
systems are becoming more and more challenged by rising authoritarian regimes,
most notably China.
If you want to read more about the event:
To watch videos about the event:
On June 4, 2019, the 2nd edition of the Normandy Peace Forum gathered 5000 participants around the theme “Peace-makers”. The Tocqueville Foundation was invited to organize a debate focusing on “Education, an agent of peace”.
Three French personalities were gathered to discuss the subject in front of about a hundred participants: Florent Bonaventure, Director of Studies and Communication, Campus France, attached to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Benedicte de Saint-Pierre, Vice-President Europe and Middle East of the United Way Association and Olivier Sidokpohou, Inspector General at the Ministry of National Education.
Françoise Mélonio, Professor Emeritus, Sorbonne University, moderator of the debate, introduced the round table by recalling the importance that Alexis de Tocqueville attached to Education, Education in all its forms, through teaching but also through practice.
One by one, the speakers explained how primary schools, secondary schools, higher education or associations could participate in making Education a factor of peace.
Olivier Sidokpohou first shared two observations made as a teacher and then as Inspector General: the persistence of gender inequalities in some subjects from primary school onwards and the existence of violence often due to a lack of expression of feelings and frustration. This expression can be allowed by the teaching of theatre, or argued speeches. He also expressed doubts about French positive discrimination policy.
Bénédicte de Saint-Pierre then presented the actions of United Way in Europe, an association that supports students in priority neighbourhoods in developing their academic and professional careers. She underlined the importance for students to discover the professional world and to develop personally in parallel with the subjects taught at school, the role to be played by families in their academic and professional careers, and the need to coordinate associative actions with school curricula.
Finally, Florent Bonaventure, after having made a quantified inventory of student exchanges between France and the international community, demonstrated the economic contributions of a foreign student in a country, the success of the Erasmus program and its cultural impact, as well as the role to be played by countries in international student exchanges.
Several exchanges were then held on the subject of teachers’ self-confidence and confidence in their students, on the subject of teachers’ mobility and international exchanges, on the subject of gender diversity, which can accentuate gender differentiation.
French frigate L’Hermione in Cherbourg
On Sunday, May the 5th 2019, The Tocqueville Foundation organized a special event around Lafayette and Tocqueville on the occasion of the presence of the French frigate L’Hermione in Cherbourg, during the festivities of the 75th anniversary of the Victory of the Allies. It started with a show of three small drama scenes. Two of them were specially written for the event. The first one “La Fayette nous voilà” (LaFayette here we come), written by Theodore Laugée, staged a dialogue between La Fayette and General Pershing. The second one was an excerpt from a play written by Hippolyte Wouters, called The Exile. It stages Alexis de Tocqueville speaking with his wife Mary of leaving France to settle in England or in the United States. The last scene was written by the actor Jean-Pierre Leblanc. He imagined a dialogue between La Fayette’s and Alexis de Tocqueville’s ghosts.
The show was followed by a debate moderated by Laure Mandeville, Senior Reporter at Le Figaro, on the theme of the Franco-American relationship. It addressed the current state of the relationship, as well as its historical strength (through an evocation of Lafayette and Tocqueville). Henry Wooster of the United States’ embassy, Benjamin Haddad, Europe’s Director at the Atlantic Council and Edouard Guillaud, former Chief of Staff of the French armed forces, discussed both the specifics and depth of this strategic relationship (competitors and partners), as well as the current challenges in the Age of Trump and of the redefinition of America’s place in the world. A the end of the day, we visited the frigate l’Hermione with a beautiful sunset and a mild weather. After a journey back in time, it felt like escaping to unknown continents.
Prince’s Prize, January 28th, 2019
Translated from the French transcript
“Philanthropy must also help to advance gender equality – this is essential. My hope is that, some day, you will choose a woman. But, Your Serene Highness, I should like to thank you and Jean-Guillaume for the honour you have shown me, an honour which I shall certainly share with everyone we serve. I think it is a good example being here, in Monaco. For it is important to remember that we are part of the 2% of the population who are educated, who can choose their direction in life, who are not hungry. If we belong to this 2% of the population, then it is our duty to serve the other 98%. This is what you do through your Foundation and through all the other worthy initiatives. And so please let me say what a source of admiration you are to me. And for that, I thank you.
We are at a crossroads between public policy and philanthropy by Unilever, with £80m dedicated every year it was important to put 5% of the company into a trust, a different trust fund to continue the tradition of the Rockefeller Foundation as it is important to me to develop and ramp up the pace with which we achieve these sustainable development goals we have shaped – like the Acumen Fund in particular. We have launched a Philanthropy University, with 2,000 students, to drive philanthropy forward. If you are interested in this idea, there are people on the ground I can recommend to you. The main aim is simply to build capacity, train training leaders so to speak, to move forward. What interests me the most is what my wife and I are doing. We have a personal trust set up across five countries in East Africa. We are committed to ensuring that all children with visual impairments can access education. That, right there, is one of the most important things if these sustainable development goals are to become a reality – in a challenging environment because education is already difficult for children who are not visually impaired, so for those who are – it’s even worse. Sometimes it’s hard, impossible even, to achieve this alone. We are looking to extend this model, and particularly among the B Corps, we have Ben & Jerry’s who help us out. We use this brand because it’s primarily an advocacy brand. Yes, we are polarising, but this is what enables growth. We wanted to launch a slogan: “Save our world”. With Tesla in particular. There’s a lot of publicity. “Be careful: if it’s melted, it’s ruined”, so watch out. That was really effective. We introduced a peach and mint brand. It was an ice cream and we’ve also got a flavour called I’m-peach-mint, but it’s not proving very popular. Presidential impeachment doesn’t work for an ice cream flavour. It’s all a question of public policy and brands have a key role to play. So I commend all of your efforts. At the end of the day, we can only change the world if we change the financial world – whether we like it or not, whether we agree or not. The aim is to set ourselves goals. For we can only assess what can be measured and evaluated. More clarity is necessary in that respect. I take my hat off to you for all that you are doing.
I would like to talk about the development agenda. For me, and I would also like to say this here, I’ve seen everything you’ve done – I don’t want to be pretentious, but I think we are spending money unwisely in the majority of cases. Great lengths are being taken to water down the efforts that we could keep up by working together. More about that later. If we look at the last few years, we ought to be proud. I’m not going to tell you a gloomy story. There are billions of people that we have been able to lift out of poverty. What we didn’t think about – we didn’t think about the effects of excessive consumption. This changes our perception of course, and it’s a fact that we are leaving too many people behind. There’s also too much governmental debt. It’s important not to marginalise too many people otherwise these marginalised people are then going to revolt – and we can see this playing out. We didn’t want to, but we needed to see it. We also need to think about access to electricity, to health for mothers, to water, etc. So there are lots of areas that are progressing at cruising speed, which is what we wanted, and that’s encouraging. But if we take a step back and look at the world in its entirety, we’re behind schedule. The speed at which things are happening is half the speed we want to be reaching. There are lots of indicators where we are lagging behind. Humanity is such that we could end poverty, completely overcome the devastating effects of climate change. There’s a sense of urgency that’s not well understood. There’s a polarised political environment that’s difficult to challenge. If we had to concentrate on two things, it would be to concentrate on climate change and poverty – disparities. So it’s important to tackle climate change. You have also seen the IPCC’s report which mentioned 3.5%, the global cost of climate change is more than five trillion dollars. Every day we get a reminder. Modern nature doesn’t negotiate. This is also evident in the WWF’s report. Your Serene Highness, you are actively involved alongside WWF on this issue. There are species being wiped out, that are vanishing at an alarming rate. In Canada, it has been said that Man is the most incredible species. In fact, they worship the gods while destroying invisible nature. And yet, the invisible nature they are destroying is in fact this God whom they worship. So I am delighted that people are realising that there is a link between the oceans, biodiversity and climate change. We are going to have to work hard to keep global warming at 1.5°. Governments have also made pledges, but these will have to be renegotiated in 2020 with the G7. There’s this focus on the climate, the oceans, biodiversity, and there’s also the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit.
The second point is poverty, unequal incomes. Over the past two decades, we have seen a steady rise in GDP, but the number of poor people is also increasing. And 8 billion people have seen their incomes fall by 20%. This is the bottom of the pyramid which survives on 5.50 dollars a day, whereas millionaires have seen their incomes swell by 12%. Their combined income totals 9.9 quadrillion. With this money alone, we could provide for the 240 million children not yet enrolled in education. We could change the face of health and education in our world, as these are key factors to attaining other goals. The money is there. We have enough money worldwide and the money is going to people who don’t need it, so if we could channel it in the right direction, we would have umpteen possibilities for working on the sustainable development goals. I have had the privilege of working on the SDGs with a panel of 27 advocates. Of course, the work was more significant that I thought and I remember that, at the first meeting in New York, everyone was gathered round the table and, all of a sudden I saw everyone look at me and the conclusion was this: it’s because of the private sector that we’re in this mess. It was quite straightforward, and I thought Houston, where am I? What have I got myself into? But we have 17 goals with 69 targets, and the idea to leave no one behind. First of all, ending poverty fairly and sustainably. Drawing up plans for the planet, the population, peace and prosperity for all. So with no global government working as it should, we have a moral framework that has been signed by 109 countries and they have a duty towards us. Everything that we are doing as a business or in our sectors, we need to tie it in with the sustainable development goals. This is a framework, as well as a very attractive business plan as, sometimes, we are a little too stuck in our ways. The Theory of Moral Sentiments was written 70 years ago. Without morality there can be no domestic wealth, and it seems problematic to me that we built the Statue of Liberty, but that we do not have a statue of responsibility. We have forgotten to make this link. And the key to progressing towards the sustainable development goals is to remind ourselves why we are on this planet, what our responsibilities are towards citizens. We are all in the same boat. We are citizens of Planet Earth before fighting over differences. We live in a world where technology is increasingly connecting us, and yet we are all far away from each other. 52 billion likes are sent on social media and yet some people commit suicide because of these likes – and some of us only have two or three friends. Sometimes, people go out to eat and they don’t talk to each other, they’re on their phones. A sense of community needs to make a moral comeback within our societies.
Urbanisation has passed the 50% mark. The population is set to rise, up to 10 billion, and soon, 75% of the population will be living in cities, which means we are going to have to double our cities, to the point that, every eight weeks, somewhere in the world another New York is built. But we will have to think about sustainable development. This will be key to knowing if we want to survive or not. So this is about thinking about how we can develop the world, how we can develop humanity within this urbanised world, because 90% of businesses will be in cities which will be increasingly cut off from nature. There are lots of children who don’t know the difference between a cucumber and an eggplant, so what is to be done if we are to live in harmony? This isn’t a battle between Man and Nature. It’s a battle for human survival. Nature will carry on. She doesn’t need us, but we need Her and we have a tendency to forget this. So, the challenge of the SDG programme is to have two to three million dollars a year – i.e. 2% to 3% of the world population, but political pressure tends to end up reducing this budget. So 2 to 3 sextillion, we need to be approaching development differently. We need to unlock the billions to unlock sextillions. How can we harness the World Bank and regional development banks to ensure that political processes are less risky and private financing comes into the equation? There are also individuals. For me, this is also an opportunity to transfer wealth between the baby-boomers and the millennials. The changes have registered much more clearly with these millennials than with us. So there is 70 billion coming from the richest sections of society. What can we do to ensure that this money acts as a catalyst on the private sector? Otherwise, we will merely be talking amongst ourselves and GDP or wages won’t make any difference. We need to tell people that part of the budget must, of course, go towards people in hardship, but we also need to remove the risks. A carbon tax was established which has provided two million. Lots of ministerial departments are in favour of such a measure, but the risks need to be removed. We could have funds that could help us to protect the Amazon for example, employ people. We need to create an ecosystem that works. So, your job is to act as a catalyst, to leverage your fortunes to unlock these sextillions.
Now in terms of the development programme, for everyone with some common sense, this programme is highly worthwhile. Over the last ten years, Unilever has simply worked on development, and we have reaped significant results over the decade. These figures are only going to get better as the cost of doing nothing is much higher than the cost of doing something. So this is about common sense. More will be achieved. We are getting to a point, for all these goals, where we are paying a price which is higher than to put the goals in place, and this is quite strange, but it has gone unnoticed. The two to three sextillion dollars for climate change – climate change is costing us more. In India, we have the problem of a lack of nutritional value. These are percentages that detract from the GDP. All of the dollars invested in nutrition have a return of $60. It’s a strange world where so many people are still going hungry, but perhaps we should dare to reconsider how 40% of our food is used. We simply need to use a tenth of what we waste to ensure people have enough to eat.
Goal 16 promotes peace and justice. Across the world today, we spend 10 to 12% on preventing conflict and war. And we are unwilling to set up other measures that could allow us to spend less. We consider ourselves to be the most intelligent species on Earth, but I don’t believe this to be the case. What doesn’t make sense is that we are continuing to do the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Einstein defined this as insanity. We have kept trying the same thing. If we do not find a different way of working, we will not move forward, and what we need to be doing differently is make sure we don’t get caught up in a political or business system which only takes a short-term perspective. This means that we are only addressing the symptoms, but not the cause. The “yellow vest” protesters took to the streets and the Government offered them several million euros, but this only dealt with the symptoms. If you think short-term, it won’t work. There needs to be talk of the underlying causes and costs.
There are four things. We need to decarbonise the global economy. We need to transition towards a circular economy. In 2025 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean, when billions of people rely on the sea for their livelihoods. So we need to progress towards a circular economy. Europe has taken the lead in enacting legislation in this respect. Next, the financial markets need to think long-term. Because we have let the banks manage us and society serves the financial sector, when it’s the financial sector that should be serving the economy. Governments are in a bind and are out of ideas. The fourth point is to make our economic model more inclusive. We are all here because we want to change that. So all of these systems would be easy to roll out if we had governments that worked, but because populism is gaining ground, this is perhaps unlikely to happen in the next ten to fifteen years. All of us, the private sector included, need to be removing the political risks. So it seems to me that a collective partnership is necessary for working differently, between citizens, governments and private sector leaders. This is what happened in Paris. There wouldn’t have been any agreement in Paris if we had not had these people involved in governments who were committed to reducing the political risks. This is one of the reasons why CEO positions are no longer held for ten years, but four-and-a-half years instead. The business model needs to move away from 2% social responsibility. That’s better than nothing of course, but every business must be a socially responsible business. This would mark a fundamental shift, and citizens around the world believe that businesses should be adhering to the highest standards. The scandals you read about in the Financial Times at regular intervals show us that 20% to 30% of businesses are corrupt. At least the Internet has given us a form of transparency. Lots of businesses still believe they can change their brand image or outsource their work, but this isn’t working. Even in the agri-food industry, we are responsible for deforestation. We are part of the reason why some people go to bed at night still feeling hungry. If we do not assume these responsibilities, we will soon be without a job. We need to understand that the role of businesses has to change. If we do that, we will get results. At Unilever, we wanted to work on sustainable development by using less plastic for example, less carbon. We have switched to green energy sources which cost very little. My energy sources are almost free now, and this is highly commendable for a business.
The second aim was to reach more people. So we had a target of reaching one billion people and improving their health. So far we have reached 650 million. Simply through hand-washing for example, it is possible to reduce pneumonia or diarrhoea – just by doing things as simple as that. So there was a coalition we set up to implement the changes, which is a lot more effective than running a foundation and saying: “We’re going to turn our attention to this or that school.” It’s the systems that need to change. People should be brought together rather than separated. Then, there’s the question of brand image. All brands need to have a purpose. We have founded the WTO, the World Toilet Organization, in Geneva; it’s really near me and I’m thrilled as I believe this is how people should be managed. Again, this is a coalition of philanthropists, civil society groups, governments and a business community. The impact is significant. Brands like Vaseline, which are working with refugees. This is an amazing product for fighting, for working on self-esteem. This is another example of philanthropy in action. It’s an area where we could address the image women have of themselves. So brands have a more important purpose and can grow on that basis. As brands’ images become more responsible, so people will pay them more attention. We have two million people applying every year because they’re interested. They want to work with us because they believe we have a purpose. So people are coming to us. Partnerships, projects because this is about building a deeper level of trust for working differently. So philanthropy, and public policy. Some years ago, I worked with Rwanda. Africa’s youth will soon be its largest age group, and yet they are forced to import food. So many people are striving for a better life, but we want to help them without worrying about the costs because it’s politically incorrect and because this is the type of world we work in. Now, we have created a tea plantation, and our goal is to create local jobs. Tea isn’t just a good product, it is also an opportunity for creating jobs. So there are now small communities of farmers able to support themselves, but the venture would fail if I didn’t teach them how to manage on their own. If I was looking to invest money, I’m not sure the strategy would be long-term as the CEO would tell me: “It’s not profitable.” So we set up Ian Wood [1:19:35] which empowers these farmer communities. We are forging ties between the organisations and populations. We have therefore set up this tea plantation and the locals own it. So there’s a supply chain that enables people to support themselves, which enables children to go to school, which means that there’s no child labour. So when you set up alliances, and public policies change so that this becomes the norm, because it’s the best way of ensuring a community works … This is a win-win situation. So these are very important shifts and developments. People need to form part of these systems. This is why you can see these letters from Larry Fink… But care must be taken over ensuring the best possible standards. I think several points are necessary. You don’t need more than 20 organisations or 20% of a market for things to change – if the 20 biggest plastic producers, a big coalition has been announced at Davos this week, and the markets are going to act. So it’s pointless getting frustrated because things, people, behave poorly. We need to try and change that. There’s Malaysia, the World Bank and users of palm oil. You put these 20 people together and you try to change the world. I think the world is ready for that.
Now I’d like to talk to the B Team. The Mary Robinsons, the Tutus, with Desmond Tutu. This is what we call being behind the scenes, when things don’t happen in the way we want for humanity; there’s so much conflict. They can talk with these Heads of State and drive forward change. We told ourselves: we need to throw ourselves wholeheartedly into changing communities. All behaviours change – even sceptics and cynics. This is a real challenge. Only for the media to then launch a full-on attack at you. This is why it’s important to demonstrate a strong moral compass. Always keep the right course in mind. Think of all these countries that still have the death penalty for homosexuals. It beggars belief. When Trump says it’s a violation, that fundamental rights are violated in Charlottesville, humanity is at stake. At that point, we also speak out. When we advocate for a reduction in the rising temperatures, regarding climate change, this is another example where we speak out, we try to provide protection, and this is when we can see other people joining us, supporting us to create a synergy within communities.
I would like to say that, at the end of the day, we don’t need more doctoral students. We don’t need to be sending people to Mars. We already have all the answers. We know how to protect the forests, how to provide food, how to protect the homeless. We have built enough schools to provide everyone with an education. We know how to feed everyone, especially when we have 30 to 40% food waste. What we need is commitment, leadership. So yes, we need more trees, but above all we need more leaders who are purpose-driven, who work over the long-term and in partnership with others. This is what we are trying to achieve particularly for SDG 17. Partnerships for the goals. But it is important to understand what type of partnership we are talking about for the universal good: putting the interests of others before our own. The general interest first. This is an intergenerational partnership, a moral partnership. So the aim is to invest both in leaders and trees. The Dalai Lama put it this way: “If you seek enlightenment for yourself just to enhance yourself, you missed the purpose. If you seek enlightenment for yourself by helping others, you are with purpose,” and I should like to thank all of you for this being the case – you are all with purpose; thank you.”