Events

Published on December 2nd, 2018 | by Isabelle Karamooz, Founder of FQM

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Interview with Mr. Gérard Araud, Ambassador of France to the U.S.

 

Mr. Gérard Araud, Ambassador of France to the United States.

Hello Mr. Ambassador, next year you’ll be organizing a gala on March 21, 2019 for the International Day of Forests celebration. You’ll pay tribute to the Anne Fontaine Foundation, whose profits from the event will go directly to the Foundation. As the Ambassador, what inspires you today?

First of all, as you know, the COP Twenty-one, or what has come to be known as COP 21, was the big United Nations meeting to fight against climate change took place in Paris in 2015 and it was a huge success. Commitments have been made to combat climate change and President Macron naturally intends to continue on this path. An essential part of the fight against climate change is the preservation of our forests. We know how trees play a role in reducing CO2 emissions. Saving the forest is not only ideal because the forest is a beautiful place, but it also fights against climate change. It is therefore perfectly logical for the French ambassador to support the work of a Foundation whose main objective is to preserve the Amazon rain-forest. In addition, it’s a beautiful story since Anne Fontaine is both of Brazilian and French origin. It is also a sort of transatlantic bridge.

What is your view on ecology, global warming, and natural disasters? Themes which are dear to France and President Macron.

Now we no longer have a choice! Natural disasters prove to us that climate change is not just an increase in average temperatures, it’s also an exaggeration of extreme weather events. We will have to think that the summers may be a bit warmer, but we’re also suffering from natural disasters with long term consequences, and in the case of a tsunami, we’re facing death toll rates in the hundreds and even the thousands. So fighting climate change is not a choice, it’s a top priority. France, most notably with President Macron but also with the former President Hollande, is determined to play its full role. We must implement the commitments undertaken in Paris in 2015.

Sheila’s involvement and support in this cause demonstrates how important it is to educate the public about the problems of deforestation and the environmental perils that arise from it. How do we integrate humanitarian and ecological intervention, in your opinion?

First of all, the presence of a celebrity as emblematic as Sheila also gives this gala a particular profile. She has sold more than 80 million records in her career and out of those 80 million people, she’s sold tens of millions in the US alone. That’s a great way to encourage the donors of this gala event to be even more generous.
Humanitarian and environmental needs, as I said, are a top priority because of things like natural disasters for example and also because of forced migrations due to climate change. Fighting climate change is already a humanitarian action.

And we can not deny this problem of global warming.

No, but scientifically, it’s proven. 95% or 99% of scientists or scientific experts say there is climate change. That being the case, it’s even 99% or 100%. The question is: does man play a role in climate change? Alas, there are 95% of scientists who think so. Today, we live a tide of populism and one of the characteristics of populism is to fight, it is to deny science. Some people say that vaccinations are useless or dangerous, others say that the theory of evolution is a joke. You have some who say that climate change does not exist. It is also one of the sad characteristics of our time.

The gala takes place on March 21st, what can you tell us about this event?

It’s an American gala on American soil so there will be both a concert given by the singer Sheila and then, there will be a dinner in this residence where we will offer our donors and those who have agreed to participate in this gala event the best of French hospitality. So not only a very good meal, but also elegance along with a number of wonderful performances. Our American friends love to participate in these gala events. They’re very often engaged in what is called here, charity, that is, private charity, private contributions to a great cause, and it’s something that’s wonderful. So it is with our American friends that on this night we will try to build upon the foundation that has already been laid to save the Amazon rain-forest.

Sheila at the Paul Claudel auditorium of the French Embassy in Washington D.C. Photo: Pascal Blondeau.

So Sheila will be present this evening, can you tell us who the other celebrities will be?

No, for the moment it’s just Sheila. Nevertheless, she’s still a huge celebrity and so I hope that a large number of French people from the French community of the United States will come and contribute to this beautiful work to fight for the preservation of the Amazon rain-forest.

Thank you Ambassador, I think we will meet on March 21st with French Quarter Magazine.

Thank you very much and it will be the first day of spring.


About the Author

was born in the royal city of Versailles, France and have lived in the United States since 1996. After earning a Bachelor's degree in History from the University of California Berkeley and studying for a Master program in education at the University of Southern California, she went on to teach French to aspiring UNLV and CSN students in Nevada. When she is not teaching, she is writing, interviewing people in a wide range of circumstances, pitching story ideas to writers and editors, taking pictures, traveling, painting or trying delicious foods.



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