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[EN] Resilience and Resistance in Times of Crisis

To read the French version, click here

At a time when resilience is on everyone’s screens, our mind turned towards a better future, we’ve been inspired by the fable of the Oak and the Reed, a demonstration of resilience in the face of resistance. But was Aesop entirely right, in a sustainable business model, what would the resilient reed be without the shade of the oak?

At PUR Projet resilience is at the core of our insetting approach. We work to build bridges between companies and farmers to develop resilient ecosystems able to adapt and reverse climate change.

But resistance is also present as this crisis has enriched and strengthened certain aspects of our model. The current situation has revealed our core values, straining them to an unprecedented field reality. And yet, they are holding firm. Like the oak.

EMPOWERING LOCAL MANPOWER FOR IMPROVED RESILIENCE AND EFFICIENCY

Thus, the current situation has reinforced the importance of having local teams and managers acting locally and as close as possible to the communities and farmers we engage with. PUR Projet being primarily based on community development, we work for and with communities willing to act on the resilience of their local environment through the reintroduction and planting of native trees, as well as the improvement of agricultural or livestock practices.

Today, to support over 43,000 farmers involved in our projects, we engage with local partners (cooperatives or farmers groups). These teams are today essential and a genuine backbone in times of crisis as they have been able to continue certain activities within the limits of social distancing.

In Asia, for example, we have supplied reading materials presenting our projects in order to compensate for the cancellation of group training and socialization. These documents are handed out directly by lead farmers. Lorena, regional manager based in Bangkok adds: « In Indonesia, we have tested a set up for a cocoa project where our relays are groups of small cocoa producers. This was not initially designed for a pandemic scenario but for the imperatives of rapid deployment of our projects. Today, we realize that these local contacts are very precious.

Emil Simondon, regional manager for France adds: « This confirms the importance of having teams as close as possible to the field and to the projects. The impact of such events on our ability to move around shows us how fragile this ultra-mobility is, and to what extent geographical proximity is a strength and an object of resilience for a company ».

In Africa and Latin America, our local nurseries were able to continue. « The crisis is passing, but little shoots of hope keep on growing, » smiles Camille Regional Manager in Latin America. « In Colombia, we were able to maintain this activity, which relies on a very local workforce. Plus, we are financially committed to launching the production of the seedlings, whose distribution is planned for June in Central America, and October to December in Peru and Colombia. » 

« This confirms the importance of having teams as close as possible to the field and to the projects. The impact of such events on our ability to move around shows us how fragile this ultra-mobility is, and to what extent geographical proximity is a strength and an object of resilience for a company ». 
– Emil Simondon

COMPANIES: VECTORS OF CHANGE

We have never thought otherwise. The businesses have an extraordinary ability to adapt. Consequently, PUR Projet is based on the hope that the private sector is capable of extraordinary changes and that its very survival depends on it. No one can cut himself off from his ecosystem without suffering the consequences. And ultimately, this health crisis mirrors an ever-growing ecological crisis.

Just like the climate crisis, the COVID-19 crisis appears to us as nature’s response and a warning given to humanity. This sanitary storm is an opportunity to change the model and to uproot once and for all the old business as usual.
Why wouldn’t we let the optimism of Tristan Lecomte shine through: « I think that this crisis is an extraordinary opportunity sent by Mother Nature to train us for a post-climatic crisis scenario. Are we ready to consider this warning as a blessing and an opportunity to start the transition to a sustainable and climate-friendly society? Life under COVID has all the characteristics described by the IPCC scenario of a post-climatic crisis. Will we rise to the challenge? »

In just a few weeks, we have witnessed several companies turning their production chains upside down. Some of our cosmetic customers such as L’Occitane or Clarins have produced thousands of litres of hydroalcoholic gel to supply hospitals. The Accor Group decided to make its hotels available to healthcare professional and homeless people. At the same time, the company launched a dedicated platform and created a support fund for some of its most affected employees. Chanel mobilized the couturiers of its Haute Couture, Prêt-à-Porter and Maisons d’art workshops to produce masks and blouses and donated 1.2 million euros to the APHP…

« I think that this crisis is an extraordinary opportunity sent by Mother Nature to train us for a post-climatic crisis scenario. Are we ready to consider this warning as a blessing and an opportunity to start the transition to a sustainable and climate-friendly society? Life under COVID has all the characteristics described by the IPCC scenario of a post-climatic crisis. Will we rise to the challenge? » – Tristan Lecomte

But any crisis is also an opportunity to give the substance and poise of the oak tree to values. This goes by strengthening and rooting corporates commitments by engaging in concrete and impactful projects, nurturing brand values on the ground, hand in hand with the communities. And if it comes to it, accepting that the fall and uprooting may lead to a new beginning, based on a new matrix.

AGRICULTURE: AN ESSENTIAL PROFESSION

With this crisis, the world has discovered what our vital needs are: to be cared for and fed by everyday heroes that society had never really considered for their true value. Caretakers, firemen, garbage collectors, but also farmers. Our role at PUR Projet is more than ever to be on the side of farmers, to promote their autonomy, self-sufficiency and food security.  Remember that, as currently observed in this health crisis, it is them who are in the front line, suffering the full force of extreme climatic phenomena and bending to ever more volatile raw produce prices, tossed around by financial speculation.  

This crisis reinforces the need for a resilient economy, aware of the interdependence of its actors and of the need for their relationship with nature to be reinvented.  At the societal level, this crisis is an opportunity to request a reevaluation of the ecosystem services provided by farmers worldwide. These services are vital for our planet and therefore for our survival.

 

 

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