Patricia Savin’s interview

Published on 18 July 2018

Patricia Savin has been a member of the Paris Bar since 1995. She holds a doctorate in law and is a graduate of IHEDN. She is a partner at DS-Avocats and has chaired the Orée Association since 2012.

Orée was among the first actors to launch applied research on the link between economics, climate change mitigation and biodiversity protection. This is why we interviewed Patricia Savin following the launch of the biodiversity plan by Nicolas Hulot on July 4th:

Why does the “silo” approach not work for biodiversity protection?

As a matter of principle, “silo” approaches can only provide piecemeal and incomplete solutions. This is even truer for biodiversity issues. By biodiversity, let us recall that Biological Diversity integrating humans is targeted, and by declination its activities. However, any human activity has an impact on its environment and therefore the biological diversity that makes up its environment.

With a global approach, OREE took the opportunity of COP 21 to examine the interdependencies between climate and biodiversity, drawing on contextual elements posed by climate and biodiversity experts, and drawing on feedback from local authorities and businesses. The publication “Climate and Biodiversity: challenges and possible solutions” thus provides the framework for a global reflection.

In continuity, a new reflection note produced on the occasion of COP 23 questions the impacts of renewable energies on biodiversity; the objective being to reconcile energy transition, biodiversity protection and ecosystem resilience. In the same way, a cross reflection is conducted on the theme of biodiversity and buildings.

What new features does the new plan unveiled by Nicolas Hulot at the beginning of July bring to this matter?

The Biodiversity Plan shows the Government’s investment and above all its commitment to protecting biodiversity. A commitment to improve the consideration of biodiversity in all sectors and to strengthen the body of legislation protecting our environment as a whole. These objectives impose a guideline to all municipalities, local authorities and more generally to all public or private actors so that the latter integrate in a practical and concrete way the protection of the environment in all their projects.

One of the important lines of work to be highlighted is that of strengthening the fight against soil artificialisation, which should make it possible to fight against the consumption of natural spaces because of a very large urban spread, implying that soils are less and less permeable.

In addition, the Government intends to raise the awareness of public stakeholders during the renewal of urban and commercial development policies, which must now be designed to achieve the “net zero artificial soil” objective. These changes will necessarily have an impact on public procurement contracts, which are stricter in environmental terms. This fight against soil artificialisation will therefore be a priority when defining urban planning policies that will affect all public or private actors from the national to the municipal level.

What are the levers for reconciling climate change mitigation and biodiversity protection?

The Biodiversity Plan, through all its objectives, aims to strengthen and improve the implementation of the “avoid – reduce – compensate” triptych, as the notion of ecological compensation has done.

For this reason, article 69 of the Biodiversity law has imposed a real consideration of environmental protection by all actors in all their projects. The Biodiversity Plan remains in the continuity of the Biodiversity and Energy Transition laws and the texts that will come out of the latter will complete our legislative and regulatory corpus for a better protection of our common heritage.

The Government is promoting biodiversity budgets in the same way as carbon budgets. What do you think of that?

The creation of labels, indicators as well as the obligation for the actors to carry out environmental assessments made it possible to reinforce in a concrete way the taking into account of the protection of the environment by the various public or private actors.

Carrying out biodiversity assessments is still complex today, but by forcing companies to draw up such assessments, they will reveal levers for improvement that will only be beneficial to them.

For example, OREE’s Business Interdependence on Biodiversity indicator (indicateur d’interdépendance des entreprises à la biodiversité (IIBE)) is now widely accepted and applies in many sectors of activity. Similarly, OREE has developed a method enabling companies to carry out a form of pre-balance sheet biodiversity, through the design of a Socio-ecosystem Sustainability Management Model (Modèle de Gestion de Viabilité des Socio-Ecosystèmes (MGV)).

What are the roles and weight of local authorities?

The Biodiversity Plan integrates environmental criteria on a European scale into public procurement contracts, to make these contracts exemplary.

With this specific mechanism, the Biodiversity Plan wishes to reinforce the obligation established by Article 30 of Ordinance No. 2015-899 of 23 July 2015 on public procurement. All actors, whether from the public or private sector, must encourage informed and responsible purchasing in order to promote a virtuous logic in each of their projects.

Consequently, the presence of environmental clauses in public procurement contracts is essential and must be promoted more generally in all contracts, whether for public or private contracts, in order to encourage a levelling up of all sectors.