Happy International Youth Day! A fortnight ago, UNEP sent out a call to ask young people to tell us their stories about the action that they were taking with respect to this year's theme: sustainable consumption and production and poverty reduction. Our social media team received a good number of inspiring stories from almost all regions of the world, and they involved entrepreneurship, innovation, originality and compassion. Thank you to all who participated! It wasn't an easy decision to pick a winner, but we had to. We've posted Damien Cluzel's story here, and it will also appear in the UNEP magazine Perspectives. Congratulations to Damien! Apart from Damien's story, we're going to be featuring one story a day for the next seven days on our website.
It was in the midst of his career at FMCG giant L’Oreal that Damien Cluzel, now 30, realised that a barrier to action for sustainability around the world was that it was often invisible, individual and disparate.
“Many people act on climate change and the environment or make donations, we don’t know who or where they are and what that action is,” he explains.
He wanted to find a way to combine environmental action with solidarity and a sense of collective action, which could make people aware that small actions taken by large numbers of people could change their world.
Eventually, he hopes to encourage people “join the movement to preserve all the beautiful places we love and in which we live”.
The engineer and financial controller quit his job to work full time on an app, Wild-It, to boost visibility of action and social rapport, joining up with 25-year-old full-stack developer Jade Chabaro, and designer Gregory Jubé.
The team launched it in France and the United States at the end of June this year. Damien says it’s the first app for the general public that allows users to rate their environment and promote conservation. The team saw a reach of 51 countries within a few days of being launched
Beyond this, the team has big hopes and plans.
“We would eventually like the collaborative aspect of our app to lead to action being taken where it is needed,” Damien explains.
The team hopes that eventually the app will attract a huge community, which would in turn encourage people and cities to change. It also hopes to include action by companies on the app to help attract sponsorship of these actions—another gap that Damien discovered while still at L’Oreal.
“Companies might be putting in place significant action to respect and protect our environment and build a sustainable world, but apart from summarising these actions and policies in an annual report, there is no further visibility,” he said, detailing his ex-employer’s efforts in sustainable infrastructure, sustainable production and design and supply chain greening.
It was Damien’s childhood summers on the French west coast that alerted him to environmental problems. He noticed over the years the degradation of some of the places along this coast, and the toll that pollution and urban expansion had on them.