GENIE.ch celebrates its 4th anniversary. Interview with Daniel Chambaz, co-founder of the Network
Daniel Chambaz : To start with there was the desire to let the rest of Switzerland know what good things had been happening for over ten years in the field of industrial ecology in Geneva. Initially, we wanted to create a website to promote industrial ecology. We brought together the main people involved in this project: the Geneva industrial estate foundation (Fondation pour les terrains industriels de Genève - FTI), Services industriels de Genève (SIG), the Office for the promotion of industries and technologies (Office pour la promotion des industries et des technologies - OPI), and the cantonal environment and energy departments. We quickly came to the conclusion that we needed to create more than just a website promoting industrial ecology: we needed a network of companies. One of the objectives of this project was to encourage the emergence of new industrial ecology projects in Geneva and elsewhere.
Today, how would you assess Genie.ch?
The project has worked perfectly as far as our initial idea is concerned. The site has more and more members among the companies concerned. From this point of view, it’s a success. In addition, a whole series of Geneva projects have been presented on the platform. And then there are the regular workshops for our members. They are very well attended and have been very successful. And all this means that people are talking more and more about industrial ecology. The industrial world is becoming more and more involved in these ecological notions. In a way, these exchanges of ideas ensure that the concept will self-promote and practical action will be taken.
What is Geneva's place in Switzerland in terms of industrial ecology?
Geneva is clearly at the forefront of industrial ecology. We have been active in this field since 2001 and are the first community in Europe and probably in the world to have completed a study of our economic metabolism using the flow and stock method, the results of which make it possible to prioritise action. The notion of industrial ecology is now written into the Geneva Constitution. Our Genie.ch project is being emulated. It is inspiring other cantons which have decided to adopt the concept for themselves. This is currently being carried out, particularly in several French-speaking and Swiss-German cantons.
Has the ecological reflex made significant progress in Geneva's industrial fabric in recent years?
Yes, the ecological reflex has moved forward, but not only because of Genie.ch. Civil society has also made progress in this area. It is setting up an increasing number of projects to make companies more virtuous. Many associations or companies are launching innovative concepts. The cantonal energy office, for its part, is making considerable efforts in all aspects of energy, in particular to create efficient networks that recover sources of heat or cold. The FTI, independently of Genie.ch, is continuing its concept of industrial ecoparks. A unique project that originated in the many discussions made possible by Genie.ch. Our platform has become a tool for discussion and collaboration between companies. In a way, Genie.ch can be considered as having sparked off many projects throughout the canton and elsewhere.
How do you see Genie.ch in the next 5 years?
There are three aspects that are very important. The first is that we would like to open our pages to all Geneva companies, even those that are not necessarily industrial. The aim would be to give a new dimension to Genie.ch, because we have realized that it is not only in industrial matters that we can offer useful synergies.
Secondly, we want to move away from the notion of strict industrial ecology towards a much broader concept of a circular or green economy affecting all companies, both in terms of the environmental impact of their own business and the products or services they offer.
And the third thing, of course, is that Genie.ch should have spin-offs in other regions and other countries. It’s a platform and a network of companies that has proven its usefulness. Other communities can take up the concept and develop their own network. In France, there are already five comparable networks: Grand Paris circulaire, Eclaira in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Recita in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Neci in Normandy, and Collectif in Grand Est. A new network has just been launched in Quebec (Quebeccirculaire.org) and the international platform (economiecirculaire.org) consolidates all published content. All these networks are interconnected, bringing together over 6,600 people including 800 in our canton.
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