It is a source of great pride to take over the reins of the finely honed instrument of foresight thinking that is the Veolia Institute. It is also a very great responsibility, so wide-ranging are the Institute’s missions, so testing its demands and so illustrious its partners. After fourteen years in existence, the Institute can be justly proud of its renowned Foresight Committee, its very highlevel conferences, its quality publications and its diversified network of experts.
The Institute’s mission, to be an instigator of new ideas and a platform for dialogue on subjects at the interface between environment and society, meshes with the present needs at a time when the challenges to be met, whether global or local, call for innovative approaches, decisions and alliances.
In order to address subjects such as the future of cities, scarcity of resources, management of the commons, or social acceptability, potential future solutions will patently require new interconnections between the authorities, businesses, the scientific world, NGOs and citizens. The
Institute must be in a position to use its networks and tools to feed into the vision of all, to identify new and sometimes disruptive ideas, and to participate in their dissemination once they are validated and show promise for the future.
This role as “homing head” synchronised with the global intellectual ecosystem is particularly important in today’s world, as the pace of history accelerates and requires adapted solutions to environmental challenges.
From this standpoint, the Group’s support for the Institute is a huge advantage, which must be assumed fully and transparently. It calls for a subtle balance between proximity and distance: between economic, academic and NGO actors that, while their interests may diverge, find common ground on essential issues, and between making a valuable contribution to the Group on the one hand and, on the other, preserving the independence and scientific rigour that have always formed, and will continue to form, the sole basis for the Institute’s legitimacy.