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After two years of pandemic, the return of war in Europe is destabilizing the security of the continent and the world. It attacks our model of liberal democracy, already weakened from within by social and territorial inequalities. At the same time, the climate crisis and the collapse of biodiversity pose global dangers to the very way of inhabiting our planet.
These challenges call for profound questioning, from the governance of our democracies to the organization of public authorities, but above all that of our economic model and the functioning of our companies. The creation of wealth is done today with unsustainable social and environmental consequences.
A great transformation is ahead of us. For the time being, it takes the form of a “great resignation”. More and more employees and young graduates refuse to participate in the end of the world to ensure their end of the month. They bring out promising solutions, outside the world of traditional business, in associations, social enterprises, or within collectives. The urgency is too strong to be satisfied with observing this slow pollination. Determined public action must amplify the transformation. The time has come for an ambitious impact policy.
Create a “nation impact”
We are not starting from a blank sheet. The French economy has always sought to be both competitive and contributory. Emphasis has been placed in recent years on competitiveness, with the ambition of making France a “start-up nation” by relying on and energizing the country’s power of innovation. The success of French Tech and the multiplication of the number of “unicorns” [start-up valorisées à plus de 1 milliard de dollars] are the results of these efforts.
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“Start-ups have gone from pigeons to unicorns”
But competitiveness alone is not enough to create a strong, united, inclusive society capable of mobilizing to defend its values. Our ambition must be to create an “impact nation”, a great ecological nation, by directing our innovation towards social and environmental impact.
For more than two hundred years, our economy has also developed thanks to the efforts of men and women whose main motive is the resolution of social, societal and, more recently, environmental problems. The social and solidarity economy (ESS), made up of associations, cooperatives, mutuals and social enterprises, already represents 10% of our GDP. But today there can no longer be an economy that produces, that conquers markets, and an economy that repairs.
Christophe Itier: the “social and ecological” entrepreneurial revolution is underway
Our future is only sustainably possible if the entire productive system takes care of humanity and the environment and cares about a fairer and fairer sharing of power and value.
This policy must be based on three axes:
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1/ Gathering forces – We continue to oppose too often those who defend the counter-model of the SSE and those who change companies from the inside, but do not belong, strictly speaking, to the SSE. The current transition requires a convergence of approaches. It cannot accommodate either a categorical defense of a sector, or obviously the obvious risks of “greenwashing” or “social washing”, which would distort the ambition of the pioneers. Let’s unite energies within a National Impact Council with representatives of the SSE, mission-driven companies, impact finance and CSR.
When employees push their box to be greener
2/Clarify – The living forces of our country need a simple and clear framework to invent new contributory economic models. The governance model of the “mission society” can be further strengthened and become the basic foundation of committed organizations. Some go a step further, with commitments of limited profit and shared governance by choosing SSE status.
They deserve to be recognized, supported and to benefit from advantages to varying degrees depending on their commitment, beyond those that already exist, such as access to solidarity finance. It is a global ecosystem that we must create, a continuum of organizations, with different statutes, different levels of commitment, but participating in the emergence of an impact economy.
3/Support – This impact economy has nothing to do with a narrow “niche”. On the contrary, it is attractive, capable of developing, including beyond our borders. It needs to be supported, like the “tech” ecosystem over the past five years. By highlighting the champions of this “impact nation”; by explaining this concept in schools, professional networks; by making impact a tool for reclaiming our territories; by questioning the functioning and governance of the care, dependency and education sectors.
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Emmanuel Faber, the ex-CEO of Danone who wants to put capitalism on new tracks
By developing impact finance, and why not an impact bank, a national initiative like Bpifrance. By associating the social partners to make the impact economy an opportunity for all citizens who want to engage in the transition through their work.
This impact policy is consistent with the other major objectives of the nation: food and energy sovereignty, ecological transition, social and territorial cohesion, priority to health and education, equal opportunities. It is consistent with our European commitment, because France can bring this model to the continental level.
If we will miss certain energies in the coming years, that of the thousands of our fellow citizens who want to act will be abundant. Let’s help it spring up with an ambitious policy!
Philippe Zaouati, Managing Director of Mirova
Guillaume Desnoës, co-founder of Alenvi
Karim Amellal, founder of the Pluriel movement
Nicolas Bourgeois, associate director of Identité RH, founder of the Néos think tank
Laura Collin, impact finance referent of the Pluriel movement
David Djaïz, senior civil servant and essayist
Geneviève Férone-Creuzet, co-founder of Prophil
Stéphanie Goujon, general manager of French Impact
Laurence Grandcolas, president of MySezame
Jacques Huybrechts, organizer of the University of the Earth and the Parliament of Future Entrepreneurs
Christophe Itier, former High Commissioner for Social and Solidarity Economy
Emery Jacquillat, CEO of Camif
Elisabeth Laville, founder of Utopias
Laurence Méhaignerie, President of Citizen Capital
Jean Moreau, co-president of the Impact France movement
Eva Sadoun, co-president of the Impact France movement
Nadia Sammut, starred chef, Auberge La Fenière
Jérôme Schatzman, Executive Director of the Essec Chair of Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship
Alain Schnapper, President of Responsible Governance
Catherine Touvrey, General Manager Harmonie Mutuelle