CEO Today - Europe Awards 2023

later, some industrials will fund them to offset some of their environmental footprint, such as carbon emissions or biodiversity destruction. Beyond the social and environmental impact that we already deliver, we want Idverde to contribute to bringing longterm and dedicated funding to active nature, which would then boost its development in cities and beyond. This a little like waste management in cities which, 30 years ago, was just a cost, in order to pick waste up and transport it to landfills. Today it is picked up, sorted and recycled or transformed into energy, therefore it generates its own longterm revenues. This is what we are trying to achieve with the green spaces we manage for our clients. Recognising the vital link between green spaces and the need for cities to adapt to climate change, how does Idverde prioritize and promote the significance of these spaces, and what role do you envision the company playing in fostering a more active approach to green spaces in the future? This is a great question, as it is essential to show to our clients what they can make of their green spaces. To do more than aesthetics and well-being: a tree provides shade and helps to cool down streets and public spaces. During heatwaves, it sweats the water that its roots and branches have stored during the year, helping keep the air humid. Each of its thousands of leaves is a mini-filter for city pollution and works to absorb carbon, which it stores in its trunk and branches. A public park can also be designed to become a rain garden to protect the city against flooding during heavy rain events. Even a golf course can offer more than a sports ground: it can become a biodiversity refuge, at a time when biodiversity is in severe jeopardy. In short, we urgently need to help cities adapt to climate change by harnessing the power of green spaces to cool them down, protect them against intense rainfall events and harbour biodiversity. Cities such as Copenhagen, Manchester and Geneva are already committed to this objective, and Idverde is proud to assist them. This requires us to adapt to this new demand for “active nature”, as opposed to “nice only”, so we spend a lot of time connecting our experts from different countries so they can share innovation and best practices and bring them to their local clients. Our field teams are very aware of climate change, as they already experience its consequences day-in, day-out, and they are incredibly committed to finding solutions to protect nature and to give it its full potential in terms of environmental benefits. We owe them a lot in this journey of change. As a CEO, what have been the most significant challenges you have faced, both personally and in terms of leading the company? Our challenge today at Idverde is to protect our “business as usual”, which today accounts for more than €1bn of annual revenue, whilst finding the time and resources to grow the “business as unusual”, i.e. active nature to help adapt to climate change. The latter requires some new competences, such as designing sponge gardens and green rooftops to capture rainwater. It also needs innovation, for example precision watering to reduce water needs. And the demand for these services is growing very fast: they will soon become “business as usual”. I am lucky to work among 10,000 colleagues who are passionate about protecting nature and harnessing all its potential benefits. Given the rising emphasis on sustainability and environmental issues in today’s business landscape, and considering Idverde’s efforts, such as pursuing B-Corp accreditation, how does the company tackle these concerns? What initiatives have you been particularly passionate about or taken the lead on? We are committed to having an impact in terms of sustainability and environmental issues and to creating jobs to deliver our growth. We just need to prove our impact by measuring it. We don’t approach these benefits as “post profit” ones, which would make them limited and not sustainable. Rather, we consider them an integral part of our business model: we earn a living and make a profit by delivering solutions to adapt to climate change. The better our solutions, the stronger our profits. We have started B-corp accreditation: one of our Danish subsidiaries is already accredited and others will follow shortly. Beyond that, one thing we are working passionately on is to get nature and green spaces their own long-term funding: today, everyone wants and needs more green spaces, but there is no funding for them. By measuring their environmental benefits - the carbon we absorb via the trees we plant and maintain, and the biodiversity we protect and foster on behalf of our clients - then, sooner or “We urgently need to help cities adapt to climate change by harnessing the power of green spaces to cool them down, protect them against intense rainfall events and harbour biodiversity” CEO Today Europe Awards 2023 - FRANCE - - 8 -

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