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Jean-Louis Chaussade, new administrator of IFGR

Jean-Louis Chaussade has joined the Board of Directors of IFGR. Chairman of the Board of Suez (May 2019/May 2020), since 2008 he was the Managing Director of Suez, a world leader in water and waste management.

In Spain, South America and France, he has devoted most of his professional career to the environment and contributed to placing water at the heart of international debates on climate change. He is heavily involved in promoting the circular economy and protecting the oceans against plastic pollution. He is acknowledged as an expert who knows how to share his passion and vision of the local and global challenge represented by water. In addition, he wrote two works: le XXIème siècle, le siècle de l’eau ? (The 21st century, the century of water? (Ed Nouveaux Débats publics) and Les 100 mots de l’eau (The 100 words of water) (Ed Que Sais-je ?) in 2012. He is currently Special Advisor for Accuracy, a global consultancy firm.

Erik Orsenna and Elisabeth Ayrault, founding members of the Association, are delighted to welcome Jean-Louis Chaussade to the governance of IFGR, where his expertise and his international networks will be precious assets for its continuing development.

Jean-Louis Chaussade has shared with us the reasons for his commitment. We thank him warmly for that:

I am delighted to join the association and its Board of Directors because the topic of water and great rivers fascinates me.

First of all, I would like to thank Elisabeth Ayrault, CEO of the Compagnie Nationale du Rhône, the main sponsor of the initiative, and its Chairman, Erik Orsenna, with whom I discussed the subject at length when his magnificent book on “the future of water” came out.

We were already discussing about the role of water, which is indispensable to life but also the source of many misfortunes. I was lucky enough to spend my entire professional life in SUEZ group, formerly “la Lyonnaise des Eaux”, a pioneer in the field of water treatment and distribution.

The 20th century was the scene of a silent revolution, that of access to safe drinking water for all in the Western world and for the greatest number globally. In the second half of the same century, concerns extended to the protection of the environment and major investments were made to treat polluted water, whether from agricultural, industrial or urban sources. The beginning of the 21st century marks a new rupture, that of the end of abundance and the beginning of scarcity.

In a world with 9 or 10 billion inhabitants that we will probably know by the middle of this century, shaken by the unavoidable consequences of a global warming that we all hope will be moderate and a galloping urbanization, choices will have to be made in allocating water resources.

Will rivers be used at the same time for intensive irrigation supporting an agricultural production that is essential to feed the whole planet, for the supply of drinking water to the population, especially in the cities and for the industry, while producing the green electricity that will support sustainable development?

Will we be able to protect the ecosystems that exist along the course of rivers, which are at the core of interactions between man and nature and which often depend on the quality and the flow of the rivers? Finally, how will the great rivers be able to remain the axes of communication and exchange they have always been, if they blocked by the great walls that form the large dams?

So many questions that must be answered to prepare the world of tomorrow, that of our children. My commitment to a balanced management of water and large rivers is not new. I am therefore pleased to renew and amplify it by working with envy, and even passion, on the Initiative for the Future of Great Rivers.

Photo : © Denis Félix

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