The Paris-based publication, Le Monde, has named Le Salon 1861 winner of its innovation award for city-building, in the category of cultural impact, as part of its Smart Cities Innovation Awards. Le Monde’s ceremony took place at the Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore on June 2. The applicants were voted on by a jury of 17 professionals, including city planners, sociologists, and other specialists.
Le Monde’s competition was championed by Veronique Fournier, the executive director of the Montreal Urban Ecology Centre, who was also one of the jurists. She accepted the award on a global stage in front of 800 world leaders.
This is not the first time Fournier has collaborated with GI Quo Vadis. She has been promoting local development, urban policies, and other community innovations for over 15 years. A former elected official of the Sud Ouest borough, she now leads a dedicated team at MUEC.
MUEC, a non-profit organization, strives to make cities more sustainable, democratic and healthy. One of Fournier’s initiatives is a series of Jane’s Walks each year. janeswalk.orgare group outings that encourage members of the community to share their stories and learn about each other and their surroundings. It was during one of these walks–from the future site of Legado, to Quo Vadis and Le Salon 1861–that Voland and Fournier first shared their thoughts on urban regeneration.
Fournier was intrigued by the idea of collaborating directly with a real estate developer like GI Quo Vadis, rather than the usual route of working with city officials who would pass directives down to developers. Public projects like MUEC’s normally involve non-profit organizations and citizen advocacy groups. She admits that businesses weren’t always part of the discussion.
“Businesses have a lot to offer. Wouldn’t it be interesting to take some business models and make something from a citizen angle happen,” she says.
Quo Vadis, a B Corporation dedicated to sustainability, was a perfect match. When businesses have a seat at the table, she notes, they become more aware of the needs of the community. It also gives them the opportunity to help non-profits and community groups achieve their goals.
Fournier is hopeful that more businesses will come on board at the local level. On a global scale, she is optimistic that competitions like Le Monde’s will inspire others to act on sustainable development.