As Quadia is one of the proud partners of the ChangeNow summit 2021, we are happy to propose you the exclusive interview of Kevin Tayebaly, co-founder of the biggest sustainability summit of the world!
- Kevin Tayebaly, you are one of the founding members of the ChangeNow summit, which has grown tremendously in 4 or 5 years. What have been the 3 or 4 key success factors in your opinion?
If only we knew it ourselves… (laughs) in all honesty, we didn’t expect it to go so fast. When we launched the summit in 2017 with Santiago and Rose, even though some players had already been around for many years, the impact world and ecosystem lacked structure and depth. And then, we witnessed a very strong acceleration in 2019, driven by the likes of Greta Thunberg and the youth movements for climate, the heat waves in Europe, the strong media coverage… so with our ambitious summit at the Grand Palais in January 2020, we felt that we were responding to a real need: the need to meet, get conversations going, form partnerships between very different but complementary types of actors.
But more than a simple question of timing, the real key behind our growth is a combination of the following: the unifying message that we deliver, the affordability (the event is free in 2021), the accessibility, the fine editorial balance with content for both experts and novices, a modern and positive tone centered around concrete solutions and, underlying all of this, our obsession to embrace all citizens and professionals in this collective momentum around the transition. Last but not least, a united team, driven by a mission and the desire to move mountains together… it’s a coherent whole, as is often the case in great entrepreneurial adventures. With a little hindsight, it is quite extraordinary to have achieved such a far-reaching event with such a small team. 28 000 people gathered in 2020, and we were… 15!
- What is the vision behind ChangeNow? What drives you and your team?
Our vision is simple: in order to accelerate the necessary social and environmental transition, we need to scale existing solutions. And to do this, we need to help all the actors who are working in this direction to network and work together. With all these solution providers, as well as investors and experts committed to changing the world, all the players in the orchestra are already there and ready to play the symphony of transition. But what they all need is the same score in order to play together. This is our role. And what drives us are precisely these meetings that we create and facilitate, which in turn generate tremendous progress. For instance, last year, the meeting between a Slovenian startup (Planetcare) and a French Minister resulted just 3 weeks later in a new law enforcing the adoption of plastic micro-particle filters for washing machine manufacturers starting from 2025 in France. An impact investment fund also raised its first 3 million Euros following a meeting at the summit. These are the stories that drive us and make us want to move mountains together.
- What does the 2021 version of ChangeNow bode for? Are there any trends that are emerging that will be more prominent? Why or why not?
We are very excited about the 2021 summit, which is gaining more and more momentum by the day. For the content, each year we follow an outline built around the UN’s major sustainable development goals: these are summarized into 10 major tracks, to which we add a few contextual topics, depending on current events and underlying trends. For example, this year we will give an important place to the topic of biodiversity, which we believe is the next great battle on which we must move forward collectively, together with climate issues. We also attach particular importance to the WHO’s “One Health” theme linking human, animal and environmental health. Finally, the topic of inclusion and gender equality will be particularly highlighted on Thursday, May 27.
- How did you adapt a “face-to-face” event into an online event? Can you explain how you are going to run the days from May 27 to 29?
The online format, although somewhat less experiential, has significant advantages: flexibility of use and the possibility for all to connect remotely, which will allow us to grow our impact and reach tenfold compared to an edition physically located in Paris in the current particular health context. The days of May 27 to 29 will be organized around many highlights within the program but also major events organized by our partners on our platform.
For instance, Johan Rockström, a world-renowned scientist famous for his work on the concept of the 10 planetary limits, and David Attenborough will present the world premiere of the report “Breaking Boundaries: The Road to a Cleaner, Healthier and More Peaceful World” before its release on Netflix. Among our partner events, the UN-hosted HeForShe Summit will highlight the commitment of policymakers, top business leaders and academics working for a more diverse, inclusive and gender-equal world. Speakers include: Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, President of Iceland, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, among others.
- You know that Quadia, partner of the event, is one of the pioneers of impact investing in Europe. What would you like to say to our team, to the investors who follow us and to the companies in which Quadia invests?
Quadia is one of the key players in impact investing in Europe and will be among the funds highlighted on Thursday May 27 in particular, during a session showcasing the leading impact funds. One of our ambitions at ChangeNOW is not only to attract more capital into the impact ecosystem, but also to change the standards of finance. This is the whole point of our “Finance the Change & Change the Finance” program. I strongly believe that ESG finance will soon give way to Impact Investing, that the latter will become the next standard of investment. And it is players like Quadia, your partners, investors and of course your portfolio companies that are helping to change the game. Keep challenging the status quo, and count on us to support you along the way.