This article was published in September 2021 as number 36.
We are in Provence, in a clearing in the forest, there are many of us and almost all women. There are different eras, stories, geographical origins, languages, appearance, clothing. The goal is the same: to hear and talk about protecting the planet through the protection and study of bees. We are journalists, writers, public relations specialists, beekeepers. Standing, we form a semi-circle and listen to the words of Noéline Raondri Rakotoarizoa, UNESCO Representative, Véronique Courtois, CEO of Guerlain, Thierry Dufresne, founder of the French Observatory of Apidology, and Angelina Jolie, godmother of the program. Women for bees. Women for bees is a program created as a result of a partnership between Guerlain, UNESCO and Ofa, aimed at educating beekeeping professionals. The course, which was attended by seven young women, ended in Aix-en-Provence with the official presentation of diplomas in the presence of Angelina Jolie has been involved in humanitarian campaigns for twenty years (The crisis in Afghanistan led her to launch an Instagram profile on August 20 to support the cause of the local population, breaking her strict social media distancing) and protection of biodiversity. This is not a short-term program, says Véronique Courtois, but “a responsibility that is a way to pay back to nature.” Women for bees in fact it will last five years with the aim of training fifty beekeepers from all over the world and providing them with the tools to enable them to become independent entrepreneurs, in the context of an international network that promotes the values of biodiversity andempowerment female. New professionals, carriers of valuable knowledge, will contribute to the installation of 2,500 hives in UNESCO Biosphere Reserves by 2025 and to the repopulation of 125 million bees.
How did the experience of the “ambassador of bees” begin?
“I ended up in Cambodia with Guerlain for one shooting dedicated to perfume (which is pretty funny, because you can’t really wear perfume in the jungle unless you want to catch dengue or malaria). In this area, we have already had many projects related to schools and beekeeping. So we started talking about it and wondering what else we could do. And so, in part, the program was born.
Talking about my latest film Those who want my death, said that when a person is “destroyed”, it is important to “commit yourself to something meaningful.” Do you think your role as an activist affects your role as an actress and vice versa?
“First and foremost I am a mother, then a humanitarian activist; Thirdly, I am an actress. However, I believe that in some of the roles that I have played and the films that I have made, you can find themes that are close to my ideas about what a woman needs. I think women are very strong, but in this world they are also very vulnerable. When I say “destroyed”—and I certainly was—I think of the women around the world who I want to help become stronger, more autonomous, and connected to my social network. It’s not just about feeling strong, it’s also about feeling safe. These are topics that, of course, have a lot to do with my work.”
We live in an age where “self-centeredness” is quite common; on the other hand, you said that one of the most important questions to ask yourself is: what is your contribution to others?
“I think that life is not worth living if it is useless for others but us. This is probably because I have experienced the only and most genuine happiness in doing my part, whether it be raising children, interacting with people from different parts of the world, or acting to preserve, rather than destroy, the environment in which I live. I’m not perfect at all, in fact I’m still a young punk from the past, but yes, I believe that if a person does not feel that he has a purpose, it will eventually destroy his soul.
Eighteen years ago, his MJP foundation was founded to “combat extreme poverty, protect the environment and preserve wildlife in northwestern Cambodia.” Combining the fight against poverty and the protection of the environment, he felt that everything was part of one system. Why have institutions not always understood that different criticalities are inextricably linked to each other?
“I will answer that the one who rules us knows. I think they pretend they don’t know, they pretend they don’t understand how everything is connected. If we carefully observe the situation, we will see a clear intention to crush the peoples, steal resources, take more than we give. So it is not true that they do not know about the destruction of the environment, the local population and the country’s economy, they are well aware of this. They prefer to control and plunder rather than build and treat everyone as equals, as extraordinary people in whom they can invest.”
The climate change emergency has been brought to the attention of the world by the movement Fridays for the Future, which unsurprisingly sees Greta Thunberg, then a child and now a young woman, as its leader. How do you see the future, especially thinking about the younger ones?
“Like most parents, I am very worried about the conditions of the world in which we live, but on the other hand, young people are also a great source of inspiration for me and I have many hopes. They must be in order to imagine a way out. I really admire Greta and we got in touch about my forthcoming book. I wrote about the importance of helping young people understand that giving them an education, a clean environment, the opportunity to play instead of working all day are not gifts, these are their rights. We must fundamentally change the way we look at any vulnerable person in our society. It’s not about what we choose to give them, but about understanding what we’ve taken from them. All our energy should be focused on pushing the little ones forward and listening to what they have to say. We need to help them be prepared for the future.”
When she spoke openly about preventive surgery for many people, she was very inspiring, but just as many reacted with bewilderment and fear. Is it possible that in order to learn to respect and care for the planet, we must first learn to respect and care for our bodies?
“In Buddhism, the concept of being present in the moment is central. I think that when we are really aligned, we are also part of the environment, and then we can feel that we are part of the earth, feel our bare feet, and that we are not separate from other living beings. It can help us to respect ourselves, and like everyone else, I am also involved in this process. I don’t get up in the morning doing yoga, I don’t follow the perfect diet, and I don’t know how to stay calm. Each of us has this idea of how it should be, how we should be, but it is difficult. Recently I met a monk and talked to him about many things, but he stopped me and asked: “How are you now? Right now?” The mind travels for all the reasons why something is wrong, but it invited me to be in every moment. This helps me a lot, because sometimes a worried mind tends to get too far ahead. feel more, and I think it can be important for women in general to feel more secure and open.”