Economic Times & Saint-Gobain Smart Green Awards & Summit 2016
Speech of HE Excellency Alexandre Ziegler at the occasion of the evening session of the Smart green summit.
Mumbai, 16 December 2016
Mr B Santhanam, DG St-Gobain Glass,
Mr Depaak Lamba, President of Times Conference Ltd,
Mr Anand Mahajan, general delegate to St Gobain in India,
Mr Iwan Baan, (Dutch architecture photographer),
Dear distinguished guests,
It is my great pleasure to be here in Mumbai as the special guest of this conclusion and awards ceremony. I would like to greet Saint Gobain and the Economic Times for their initiative and the achievement of this working session.
The theme of the workshops that took place today is one of the most critical issue that we are facing: building and re-building cities worth living, in harmony with their environment. Everywhere in the world, the Humanity has no choice anymore but going sustainable. This is a tremendous and probably tough challenge, but we have to be confident. Confident in the awareness of the people – as the international community has shown during the talks prior to the huge success of the Paris agreement. I can personally testify, because I was in Paris at that time, that the world’s unity has been a sincere and a deep move fostered by leaders from all the continents. In this respect, France really appreciated PM Modi’s strong support, which has been a key element of the success of the COP21. The recent quick ratification of the agreement by India is another proof that India will be in the future a key partner in our common fight against climate change.
There is a strong political impetus towards deep reforms to turn our economies more sustainable. We need this political impetus, as much as we need public financial support. But they will be no sustainable solution without technologies, and without a strong commitment from the private sector. In this respect, the building sector will be a major player. Building sector has long been seen only as a major contributor to greenhouse effect gas, exerting a lot of environmental pressure, consuming many natural assets. It is at the same time a key sector for economic growth and development. It is, above all, a sector where a large part of the technological solutions that can be found to abide by our commitments to tackle climate change will be invented.
Having in mind those issues, France co-chaired Habitat III, the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, which took place last month in Ecuador. This conference was a unique opportunity for rethinking the urban agenda, to promote equity and a more sustainable development of cities.
I am therefore delighted to be here, participating in an event organized in partnership with a French company, founded in the 17th century by the then Prime minister of the kingdom of France, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, which is today known all over the world for its technological know-how in glass and in building materials. I would add, that Saint-Gobain has chosen to settle here in India in 1996, not only to produce, but also to innovate. The company is now fully committed on the Indian market, having launched large training programs and a high level R&D center in partnership with the IIT of Madras.
Now that time has come for action in changing our economic model, we need international cooperation based on technical exchange and fair trade. France has a long lasting experience in working on the city of the future, and we have long been committed alongside India on these issues. We are now fully supportive of the program launched by Honorable Prime Minister Modi’s government, in particular the Smart cities program.
What we can bring here, on the Indian market, are companies which have the complete range of competence to tackle all the issues faced by the modernizing cities of India, in transportation, utilities (energy, water, waste…), planning, IT & communications and obviously building and housing. Under the auspices of the central Ministry of Urban development, we have launched a strong cooperation program with Indian cities, providing them with technical assistance and offering financing solutions. We also try to develop exchanges between people and cities, as we did when inviting the Commissioner of Chandigarh to France last week.
I was indeed chairing last week in Paris, on December 6th, a large meeting on urban development in India, in the presence of my counterpart, the Ambassador of India to France, to draw the French businesses’ awarness on what is currently occurring here. The success of this meeting is a demonstration of the deep interest French companies have in today’s India and, above all, of their confidence in its economy.
Next year, in November, we will launch the third edition of our French festival to India, Bonjour India, which is to last approximately three months all across the country. Our idea is to organize a range of events to emphasize Indo-French cooperation, not only on the cultural sector, but also in economy and knowledge. We decided to focus this coming edition on three major themes: « go green », « high mobility » and « smart citizen »… you have dealt all the day long with these exiting issues.
In conclusion, I’d like to emphasizes once again that this huge challenge for the world and of India, this challenge of inventing new sustainable development models for the cities of tomorrow, can only be addressed through a strong international cooperation. As you see, France is fully committed to it, alongside India, fully determined to take all its part, with its companies, its experience, its technologies, and also with its culture.
The great achievement of this Smart green summit, is for me a part of the success to come, that is why I would like to sincerely greet the organizer, to congratulate the laureates, and I wish you all a great evening./.