12 July 2022

The Future of Montagne Verte

In the beginning

When Montagne Verte began 3 and a half years ago, things were very different. This is of course to be expected given that change is the only constant and we would have hoped that the world wouldn’t have stayed the same! However, we’ve been reflecting on the fact that our purpose and existence should also be evolving alongside the local and global situation.

The most notable differences between then and now (that relate to our work!) are

  • 2,116 jurisdictions in 39 countries (including France) have declared a climate emergency
  • The climate is finally on the political agenda both from our local mairies and national government.
  • Morzine-Avoriaz has obtained the Flocon Vert label.

At its conception, Montagne Verte was largely focused on creating a Pacte for businesses and organising events to raise awareness. We didn’t realise how quickly momentum would grow and in the first 6 months we developed the following objectives which we presented to our community in September 2019.

Our objectives in 2019

  • Engage the community in our mission to become a sustainable tourism destination.
  • Raise funds to employ a Sustainability Director.
  • r Get the Climate Crisis on the agenda of local politics.
  • Support businesses to make change through our MV Pacte.
  • Organise events to raise awareness and build a network of motivated individuals.

The response was fantastic and the community was incredibly supportive (legends, thank you!). Due to the generosity of donating members, committed volunteers and everyone else who came along for the ride, we have been able to achieve quite a lot between then and now.

Our achievements since then

We have:

  • Employed a sustainability director who:
    – Met with many stakeholders to create an inventory of social and environmental issues faced by the commune.
    – Made a detailed list of 50 relevant projects of varying difficulty under the categories ‘Zero Waste – Zero Carbon – Total Biorespect’
    – Conducted a detailed analysis of the EMA project and produced a widely discussed and circulated report.
    – Presented train and bio-waste project to Mairie and CCHC.
  • Had 36 businesses engage with Le Pacte.
  • Created a series of well researched resources like the Green Pages.
  • Organised 28 events.
  • Opened a second-hand shop and upcycling project.
  • Collaborated with a variety of other associations.
  • Employed a General Manager.
  • Sat on the steering committee for the Morzine-Avoriaz Flocon Vert label.
  • Built an engaged online community with over 1000 subscribers to our newsletter and social media channels.
  • Appeared in many local, national and international news outlets.(check out our press!)
  • And lots more!

Our challenges

We went into this project knowing that trying to tackle something on the scale of climate change was not going to be without significant challenges. While we are very proud of our successes so far, we would have loved to have achieved more but these are the challenges that have limited our reach and forced us to reconsider our objectives:

  • Covid19 came at a time when we had developed significant momentum and this became the primary focus of all involved on a personal, professional and municipal level meaning that progress was slowed.
  • Benoît, our sustainability director, could not make progress on our key projects because the resources of our stakeholders were focussed on managing the crisis phase of the pandemic. Unfortunately, his window of availability was then closed as he needed to take another job.
  • The commercial conditions of the train project changed significantly. SNCF changed their terms and conditions of chartering a train and this would have required Montagne Verte to take on significant financial risk which we did not feel was a good use of our resources.
  • After an initial positive reception from key members of the CCHC, the biowaste project did not gain traction within the organisation (who are responsible for managing waste locally), and despite our best efforts to encourage it’s progress, it has been sidelined in anticipation of a national directive for communes to manage their own biowaste in the very near future.
  • Some Morzine residents did not agree with our decision to provide an analysis of the impact of the EMA. It is our belief that this opposition has prevented us from advancing in certain areas, not allowing us to play a more collaborative role with the Conseil Municipale of Morzine.
  • The personal and professional lives of several of our board members have changed significantly meaning not everyone is able to put the same amount of time into the project as before, whilst some no longer live in the region. This has meant we have been less able to engage with new volunteers and bring more people into the decision making processes than would have been optimal.
  • We are about to say goodbye to Alice, our general manager. Alice has been fundamental in helping develop the association, develop important relationships and navigate all the complicated administration. We’ll be very sad to see her go but she has other projects to follow but we’re pleased to say she will remain a part of our conseil.
  • Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles is that we have found ourselves with a very broad focus, acting on such a variety of sustainability related issues that it has diluted our ability to have a big impact in specific areas. We have become a local reference point for most social issues which has extended our ‘areas of operation’ even further. As a result, we have struggled to clearly articulate our purpose.

A New Direction

A new direction We want to ensure that Montagne Verte develops in a way that all our supporters can get behind and our plan is to widen our geographical remit whilst giving ourselves a more specific remit.

Instead of Montagne Verte Morzine, we will now become Montagne Verte Haut Chablais.

This better aligns us with our membership and with the CCHC, who manage waste and transport (among other things) which have significant environmental impacts. It puts us in a position to collaborate with the 15 different communes in the Haut Chablais and partner with those who are most open to change.

Our new mission is for every government organisation, business, association and individual within the Haut Chablais to be Carbon Neutral.

This simple but audacious goal gives us a clear pathway forward and we will be communicating much more about what this involves in the coming weeks and months.

To help achieve these new objectives, we will be hiring a new manager to oversee the day to day running of the association, manage our network of volunteers and work with the Conseil d’administration to develop a more detailed plan in the pursuit of achieving carbon neutral for the Haut Chablais.

We are also looking to expand the core working group and Conseil d’administration as we keen to bring in new perspectives and different skills in order to support the existing team and enable us to achieve our ambitious goals.

As the challenge of the climate and ecological crises becomes ever greater, it’s important we continue to respond and adapt. We at MV are doing our very best to ensure we’re helping those that want to make changes, and to make them as quickly as possible. We’re also trying to engage and inform those who currently don’t want to make changes, which is a challenge, and we are extremely grateful to everyone of our supporters along this journey.

More useful resources from Montagne Verte: