2 February 2022

Laurence Tommasino: “My hope is that, in 2022, the notion of shared restraint will gain greater currency “

Amidst pride in the work accomplished, societal uncertainties and new milestones, Geres Executive Director looks back at the past year and considers the expected highlights for the NGO in 2022. Interview.  

2021 is now behind us, can you tell us how you feel about this very intense past year?

L.T — I’d say: this troubled year! It has underlined to what extent our world is engulfed by multiple crises, which in some countries have come one on top of another and severely affected the weakest groups.

In this situation, I am nevertheless lost in admiration, indeed moved, as I see how all those people forced to cope every day with ever wider and unacceptable inequalities are proving their will to stand fast and adapt.

Is there something you are particularly proud of and would like to tell us about?

L.T — As regards Geres, I am happy and proud to see how our teams in the field are continuing to encourage these people, to support them, looking for concrete solutions with them to improve their lives despite everything and holding aloft the banner of Climate Solidarity! 

Another matter of pride which means a lot to me is the 45 year anniversary of Geres in 2021. A standout event. Geres has become less timid (some people may say thank heavens for that). I am pleased to see our NGO increasing its visibility for the general public thanks to a young and very energetic communications and citizen mobilization team!

Could you reveal the expected highlights of 2022 and the prospects moving forward?

L.T — The efforts made in 2021 and the financial support of our partners and citizens mean that Geres will be able to step up its field activities in 2022. In Mali in particular, we shall be celebrating the creation of an inclusive social enterprise to provide access to productive energy in rural areas: Green Biz Africa

Find out more about the “access to sustainable energy for all in Mali” project

En France et particulièrement en région Sud-Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, comme à Marseille, nous contribuerons activement à un effort, que nous souhaitons collectif et coordonné, de réhabilitation énergétique de l’habitat. Une urgence et une priorité. La précarité énergétique n’est tout simplement pas acceptable.

Emergence of a Green Business Area in Moro Moro-1

What about the operating areas affected by the recent political, social and economic crises?

L.T — 2021 certainly was a very harsh year for some of the countries where we work. In 2022, we shall endeavour, as far as possible and making sure that our teams stay safe, to retain a presence at the side of all those who are facing major political, social and economic crises.

After many months of interruption of our field activities in Afghanistan, during which we nevertheless managed to keep on paying our colleagues and our local partner, the teams have only in the last few days been in a position to start work again, directly supporting families but without having to collaborate with the current regime.

The same spirit of continuity reigns in Myanmar, where we are of course equally at the direct service of the Burmese people who are also suffering greatly. Our activities continue and our teams are doing what is needed on the ground.

Generally speaking, as regards the climate, what are you hoping for in 2022?

L.T — Still thinking in terms of Climate Solidarity, I would like to see the notion of shared restraint gain more currency in 2022. 

I want the richest countries to make good on two fundamental commitments:

  • Take consistent, effective steps towards putting an end to fossil fuel use
  • Honour their promise of a massive financial contribution in solidarity with the countries most affected by climate change.
Signature of Geres Mongolia sustainable habitat agreement

In conclusion, do you have a message to pass on to anyone thinking of supporting us?

L.T — Supporting Geres is an act of Climate Solidarity. Very practically, people need to know that even the smallest donation goes towards helping artisans and owners of very small enterprises to make a better living, reducing the arduousness of women’s work, creating jobs in isolated rural areas and improving the quality of housing and the air in towns and cities.

Supporting Geres this year also means having the opportunity to volunteer and join with us in concrete action for broader citizen involvement in favour of Climate Solidarity!

Laurence Tommasino was speaking to Anna Revert.

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