Policy breakfast: Climate and Urbanism

November 19, 2021

In November, the French-American Foundation hosted its first in-person Policy Breakfast since January 2020. We were honored to welcome Pierre-André de Chalendar, Chairman of Saint-Gobain and author of The Urban Challenge, Reviving the Desire to Live in the City as our speaker. Andrew Klaber, Founder and CEO of Bedford Ridge Capital and 2018 Young Leader, moderated the discussion and Q&A.

Mr. de Chalendar spoke first on his takeaways from the COP26 conference in Glasgow and his reasons for staying optimistic in the fight against climate change, citing positive governmental cooperation, breakthrough innovations, and leadership exhibited by younger generations.

In addition to discussing his role in transforming Saint-Gobain into a leader in urban housing renovation and sustainable construction and manufacturing, Mr. de Chalendar provided background on his personal path and lessons learned from mentors. Sharing his perspective on leadership, he noted the importance of maintaining a collaborative spirit, empowering people by building relationships on trust and communication, and being able to evolve in one’s leadership style.

His new book, “The Urban Challenge: Reviving the Desire to Live in the City,” was also up for discussion. In it, de Chalendar explores how we can leverage technology to reduce cities’ carbon footprints – did you know that cities consume 78% of the world’s energy and produce 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions? His work has been called “a passionate argument for a redefined city model that favors sustainability and inclusion.”