There is a correlation between the stories of Yacouba Sawadogo and Il Bisonte. Luigi Ceccon, CEO of the Florentine brand, tries to explain it. Let’s start with the interviewee. Why was a manager so impressed by a farmer?
I was initially struck by the news because “planting trees in the desert” was what I said I wanted to do when I was a boy. The link today between individuals and the planet seems evident to me in Yacouba’s life. Our global world increasingly threatens the environment, so solutions that are truly beneficial for humans are also beneficial for the land. Yacouba not only saved his village, but also taught us what we can do inside our own space. Furthermore, if the global world (arrogantly) offers up answers that are always the same, local wisdom becomes a natural reaction, part of everyday life, even. I mean, he knows how to explain how individuals share responsibility for their future.
Is this why his example intersects different worlds?
His example of sustainability compels attention. It shows that all of us – in our work, with our knowledge – can contribute in a fundamental way. An idea like “planting trees in the desert” offers a concrete contribution to the present. Especially perhaps because it’s an idea that involves using one’s hands: in short, an idea that praises craftsmanship.
Yacouba “stopped the desert” with local wisdom, but he also taught us how to do it: how much do you think the combination of tradition and communication is worth in these innovation experiences?
I like the word information more because it implies an emphasis on the right news. I believe that sustainability itself depends on its relationship with tradition. For a very simple reason: enlarging the range of tradition means innovating. For example, Yacouba, by releasing the zai agricultural technique from village memory, was able to adapt it to the region’s new climate: making it common heritage and subject to change.
Yacouba’s commitment to creating a sustainable movement is one of the reasons he won the UN’s 2020 “Champion of the Earth” award. One last question then: what do you hope his struggle will teach the business world today?
Unfortunately, two days after receiving his latest award, his forest fell victim to arson, and for years his regenerated land has been sold to build villas. It’s obvious that our memories are short, even in these cases. So we need Yacouba to inspire as many poetic ideas as informational ones.
A sustainable program for businesses?
I believe it’s important that there is an increasing tendency towards environmental, social and economic sustainability in the day-to-day life of individuals and companies. Yacouba’s illuminating work must be supported and talked about, both for the positive effects of his actions as well as the negative effects of those willfully opposed to it, and the regenerated land being used for economically short-sighted building speculation.