Each month, one person from our Expert Community will be showcased in an article highlighting their background and experiences during their time with the Solar Impulse Foundation. The Expert of the Month award places a spotlight on an Expert who has gone above and beyond in their role to help label sustainable and profitable Solutions.
The Expert of the Month award for June 2022 goes to Rémi Lantier! Since he joined the Foundation back in March 2019, Rémi has assessed 46 solutions relater to the water and clean energy sectors. After working 20 years in the power sector, he spent 16 years in the field of water engineering, being in charge of international projects. After that, Rémi became general manager of one of the world leading companies in the field of water production and treatment.
Please tell us a little about yourself and your area of expertise!
I was born and raised in Paris. After an engineering degree from the École Centrale de Paris and a Master of Science in Physics from both the University of California, Los Angeles and the Sorbonne University, I started working for the power branch of Alstom and then moved on to Suez where I was CEO of Degrémont, namely the Water infrastructure division. I have lived in France, Brazil and USA and traveled extensively worldwide during my career. I am retired now but I still enjoy travelling a bit, especially to visit my daughters and grandchildren who are established in the USA.
Apart from my contribution to Solar Impulse Foundation mission, I am an advisor for a great startup specialised in digital training and water technologies education. I am also helping the Sorbonne University Foundation in its commitment to raise funds for the research in the fields of health, environmental protection, smart cities and AI, but also for several scholarship programs like the one promoting women high education in sciences .
You have worked as a Director at Suez for 16 years. Was sustainability fully integrated in your work? And how has the approach to sustainability changed over time?
Suez activities and objectives are fully dedicated to environmental services. I have been working there for 16 years. The job of constructing and operating infrastructures bringing healthy water to population across the globe as well as cleaning waste water to protect the environment and efficiently recycle our precious water resources has been a very exciting challenge, marked with many success stories. This field is a perfect example of how environmental protection and good business are not contradictory.
However, the issues connected to sustainable development have dramatically gained more importance over the last ten years. Beyond the social, political and governmental aspect, our commitment has resulted in a dual impact. Firstly, at the company level, with the necessity of proving and being accountable for its positive environmental efforts based on clear and transparent criteria beyond any greenwashing. Secondly, at the working teams level where personal behaviour and commitments have been routinely challenged.
You joined the Expert Community in March 2019 and you have completed 46 Assessments! What kinds of Solutions have you assessed, and which stand out as the most impactful?
In my Expert journey with the Solar Impulse Foundation I have dealt with many projects promoting sustainable and safe water solutions for rural communities ( solar powered kiosks, village drinking water fountains etc..) and decentralised waste water treatment facilities.
Some other great projects I loved were : wave-powered water desalination buoys, AI for storm water management or to reduce networks water losses, autonomous boats to fight hydrocarbon and plastics pollution in harbours, or a modular landscaping solution for managing rainwater and biodiversity in a city.
I have been impressed by the energy and successes of several of those entrepreneurs, generally coming from the scientific or engineering sector, concretely improving the economic, social and environmental situation of (often poor) communities while developing their startups with no public economic help.
Anything else you would like to share?
I believe that every individual can make a difference at his own level. We tend to expect too much from governmental bodies (not that we should stop from pressuring them in the right direction for our good), but at the end of the day, I think a lot will be achieved by the industries, the entrepreneurs, the scientists, the associations… well, by each of us.
Are you interested in joining the Expert Community? Find out more about becoming an Expert here.