Marie Balmain, CSR & Foundation Director of Villages Nature® Paris about the Europe Summer School venue
The PM4SD Summer School Event related to Leadership and Governance for Sustainable Tourism, will be held from the 9th to the 12th of October to celebrate the one year Anniversary of the Opening of Villages Nature® Paris. Villages Nature® Paris is a joint venture with Pierre & Vacances-Center Parcs Group and Euro Disney S.C.A., it is as a model for sustainable tourism using local geothermal energy, maximizing waste sorting and recovery, having a “car-free” site , and more. In this blog we talk with Marie Balmain, CSR & Foundation Director, Pierre & Vacances-Center Parcs Group, about one of the main skills that the Next Tourism Generation (NTG) is addressing: sustainability in tourism.
How does the Villages Nature® Paris vision support and contribute to this event and the Next Tourism Generation Project?
“The ambition of Villages Nature® Paris is to offer its guests a unique experience while minimizing its impact on the planet, contributing to the local economy and helping nature thrive onsite.
Since its inception, Villages Nature® Paris has been keen to review and reinvent the usage and functioning criteria in order to answer the environmental challenges of a large scale peri-urban tourist resort.
To reach this goal, Villages Nature® Paris has led a global approach to sustainable tourism, through its Sustainable Action Plan. This includes ten targets with timelines, following the One Planet Living methodology developed by BioRegional. This commitment of Villages Nature® Paris to sustainable development was recognized by UNEP, which chose the site as part of its “Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism”.
In 2017, Villages Nature® Paris got awarded the prize for the “Best Initiative in Sustainable Development and Social Responsibility” of Worldwide Hospitality Awards for its innovation and exemplary position favoring sustainable development.
Villages Nature® Paris is very proud to be hosting the next PM4SD Summer School Event as to support sustainable initiatives in the tourism industry. The NTG Project is a great opportunity for us to meet our peers, share best practices but also discuss on the progress to be made and issues ahead.”
What can we expect to see and learn from Villages Nature® Paris during the event?
“You can expect to see how a tourist destination of this scale manages to meet the sustainable challenges and provide a fun and attractive environment to experience a great holiday.
Villages Nature® Paris is designed for 21st Century families who are sensitive to nature and the values of sustainability.
Our guests are urban-based families looking for a hassle-free, easy to access short break destination, where parents can disconnect to fully enjoy family time and where kids can have the best fun. To this end, Villages Nature® Paris offers different immersive universes:
– Extraordinary gardens of 2 hectares enhanced by human hands, inviting guests to relax and enjoy nature.
– Aqualagon, wather park heated to 30°C year-round by geothermal energy.
– Forest of Legends filled with adventures for children to enjoy the magic of nature and imaginative play.
– Holiday housing, each home has its own private garden or green space.
– BelleVie Farm enabling guests to experience the life of a farmer.
– Lakeside Promenade with shops and restaurants offering a wide range of food options including organic, fairtrade and local products.”
What developments in sustainability are visible within this sector and are important to follow and adapt to in the upcoming years? What tools / skills / etc. are necessary to stay ahead in the future?
“Minimizing waste, preserving water, developing carbon neutral infrastructures, supporting biodiversity, buying local, promoting local culture and heritage to guest … are issues that each and every actors in the tourism industry have to tackle today. Guests are asking for more responsible products, governments are giving incentive, … all stakeholders are asking for higher sustainability standards. Best practices are flourishing.
Our experience at Villages Nature® Paris has shown us that having ambitious and clear goals is not enough. We need a vision, highly committed teams, a will of continuous improvement and a spirit of innovation. At Villages Nature® Paris, we thrive to foster innovation by trusting our employees to go beyond their job descriptions. We also provide a solid and stable foundation – where risks can be taken, and failure is allowed.”
About Marie Balmain:
After beginning her carrier at Utopies (first consultancy specialized in private sector sustainability strategy in France) and co-authoring a number of books on sustainability, Marie Balmain joined the Pierre & Vacances-Center Parcs Group in 2005 to define and roll-out the Group CSR Strategy, action plans and projects. Her mission is to accompany the development of new and innovative offers and leisure activity embedding values of sustainable development. She has been in charge of the One Planet Action Plan for Villages Nature® Paris, a pioneering, large-scale sustainable tourist resort on the edge of Paris.