This summer, the drought spared no one. Nature sent us a scorching reminder that water is life. Water from the sea, water from the sky, but also water from the lakes. For a long time now the members of the Association pour la Sauvegarde du Léman (ASL) have been aware of this inextinguishable truth and have taken action to preserve the waters of Lake Geneva. The latest to date? “Stand Up Paddle” – a series of videos produced in collaboration with the Swiss humourist Thibaud Agoston and supported by Equestrio Foundation. Let’s meet the team behind this project which reminds us that humour can act as a formidable trigger of change!
Fighting against the pollution of Lake Geneva
Created in 1980 to preserve the quality of the water in Lake Geneva, the Franco-Swiss Association pour la Sauvegarde du Léman (ASL) plays a major role in the fight against pollution. The ASL boasts 4,000 members, 3,000 volunteers, and 40 years of experience in raising awareness within the general public and local institutions. Faced with the collapse of Lake Geneva’s biodiversity, no less is needed to sustain this natural heritage.
Laughing and taking action
Demographic pressure, macro-waste, micro-plastics, chemicals, micro-pollutants, climate change… we mustn’t forget that the lake’s deterioration is a sad reflection of the damage caused by human activity. Damage that we urgently need to repair by awakening the desire to take action in as many people as possible.
“Raising awareness among another type of public that is not yet necessarily committed to the environmental cause” – this is exactly what is at stake with this project of short videos featuring the Swiss comedian Thibaud Agoston. Dangerously swaying on a paddle, the humorist talks us through the incredible biodiversity of Central Europe’s largest lake, or, as he puts it, of the “Chuck Norris” of ecosystems, which offers a larder as exciting as that of the “Paleo” music festival ” to all the species, with a special mention for the “coot” (Yes, Thibaud, the coot is definitely a bird!).
A committed team
So, who is behind this innovative project? A very committed team featuring Suzanne Mader, general secretary of the ASL, alongside Adrien Bonny and Alexis Pochelon, both project managers within the association!
All three share a deep attachment to Lake Geneva, which they observe, navigate and experience in their very own way, always with a deep connection to nature. But they are also united by a veritable passion for sailing. Beyond their beloved lake, they also set their gaze on wider horizons : they dream off hitting the open sea to navigate around the world. Water is a “source of life“, as they so rightly say, but it is also their playground.
As for the rest, they each have their own path, yet all heading in the same direction.
Amazed by the beauty of nature, Suzanne became aware of the importance of protecting it as a teenager when she discovered at first hand, through sailing, the dangers imposed by pollution on Lake Geneva. After working in advertising and marketing, she followed a CAS (Certificate of Advanced Studies) in sustainable development to get a better grasp of environmental protection issues. General Secretary of the ASL since 2014, she works 80% for the association, thus giving substance to her vision of an ideal world – one that would be “in harmony with nature“. As an inveterate of the wild, her commitment to the planet obviously stretches outside the office: she does her utmost on a daily basis to “reduce her impact on the environment by cycling, reducing her waste and growing organic vegetables in her garden.”
Adrien holds a master’s degree in environmental sciences and has been a project manager at ASL since 2012. His passion is sailing. He navigates all year round across Lake Geneva and is always on the lookout for new projects to protect it. Adrien is brimming with ideas that he seeks to implement concretely in his work. His dream is to “head off to Polynesia, by boat…and with his family”. A prospect that doesn’t sound too bad to us!
As for Alexis, he has always been keen on nature and ornithology, with a soft spot for the hoopoe, a “magnificent and mysterious bird“, so he tells us (we haven’t yet had the patience to confirm this, but we have total confidence in what he says!).
After studying nature management, he graduated with a master’s degree in environmental science, which he completed with a project on nanoplastics. He quite naturally joined the ASL in 2020 to manage all the projects linked to plastic and biodiversity. Beyond his work, his main objective is to “enjoy life and live each day as it comes“…
Unveiling the hidden treasures of Lake Geneva
For Suzanne, Adrien and Alexis, the objective of the “Stand-Up Paddle” series is to “reveal the biodiversity of Lake Geneva in a different way“. As they point out, “there is way more to this lake than just ducks and fish!”.
Of course, Lake Geneva is home to 130 different species of birds and 30 species of fish. But it also harbours more than 18 types of plants forming a veritable aquatic forest which is essential to the reproduction of living species and a source of oxygen for humans. It is the richness of this ecosystem, too often overlooked, that Thibaud Agoston puts forward in these videos which target a large audience, with a specific focus on young people.
Get the buzz going
To date, 3 clips have already been released. The ASL team is currently producing a new series, also supported by our foundation, with a view to “reach out to the widest number of people.” As environmental awareness is stepping up apace amongst the young generations, they are more motivated than ever to harness this momentum and fuel this wave of change.
You love your lake and are determined to preserve it too? Help fund the next videos by making a donation! Or share them as much as possible – with Thibaud Agoston, you’ll never be a flop 😊