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In January 2024 in Paris, two key figures in the environmental energy revolution in Europe met to explore regeneration together. They are ANTOINE DENOIX of AXA Climate and ALAIN DESVIGNE of Amarenco. Enjoy their synergy and discoveries!

What is regeneration?

Antoine: For me, regeneration is putting ourselves at the service of life. For a business, being regenerative involves thinking and operating as a living system, within planetary boundaries. And to have the intention of developing life, both human and non-human.

Alain: For me, regeneration happens when all living beings are singing together.

We talk a lot about ecosystem services, but that’s the tragedy of it all, because it’s an anthropocentric vision of nature. So I prefer to add the notion of “homosystem” services, i.e., the services that human beings can provide to the rest of Nature, in order to establish reciprocity.

The difference between the two is that other beings naturally provide these services to human beings, whereas human beings have a choice of whether or not to contribute to life on our planet.

A synonym
Antoine: life
Alain: consciousness

A drawing
Antoine: interconnected ecosystems


Alain: From the periphery to the center and the center to the periphery

A painting
Antoine: Hunters in the Snow by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, for the landscape, and the footprints of the hunters, which mark the return home
Alain: A mural called Farming in Harmony, created by Amber Art & Design, which is located at the Rodale Institute Headquarters, Kutztown, PA, USA

An orientation to thought
Antoine: metaphysical

A color
Antoine: the blue of the sky, always within sight, looking up
Alain: brown because it reminds me of the soil

A piece of music 
Antoine: Goldberg Variations by J.S. Bach, played by Glenn Gould 
Alain: silence

An attitude 
Antoine: humor
Alain: listening with generosity

A moment in the history of our planet
Antoine: 1906, when Marcel Proust took up his pen to write his masterpiece, The Search for Lost Time
Alain: 2024

A moment in your life
Antoine: my daughter’s birth
Alain: now

An inner state
Antoine: joy
Alain: vacuity

A journey
Antoine: a book
Alain: inner

A poem
Antoine: Calendrier pour le nouvelle foi [Calender for the New Faith] by René Char 
Alain: The Soil Never Sleeps by Adam Horovitz

A specific location
Antoine: Le Plomb du Cantal, Auvergne, France
Alain: our very tiny planet (Earth’s diameter is about 1.346 trillionths of a light-year while the observable universe is estimated to be about 93 billion light-years in diameter)

A picture
Antoine: Le Plomb du Cantal, Auvergne, France



Alain: Chernobyl 2023

A relationship
Antoine: friendship
Alain: multi-dimensional

A country 
Antoine: France
Alain: India

A person
Antoine: my father
Alain: my mother

A company 
Antoine: human journey
Alain: every company in the future

A Meeting of Hearts and Minds

Alain: I remember the synchronicity of our first connection. Within the same week, my general manager in Asia met your general manager in Singapore. Other members of our teams met at HECTAR, the agricultural campus spanning over 600 hectares at the gates of Paris that brings together agriculture, entrepreneurship, and technology into a unique ecosystem. I stumbled upon one of your LinkedIn posts, which echoed a lot of my own reflections.

I remember my stream of thoughts when I saw your title, Chief Ecosystem Officer, and wondered, “What is the actual role of that guy at AXA Climate?” I initially thought you were part of the C-level executive team, not the actual CEO.

Antoine: During our first call, I quickly felt a strong connection between us. From the first seconds, confidence was there. We went straight to the essence: our deep source of motivation, namely serving life, human and non-human, through our companies. Our collaboration since has kept this aspect.

Alain: You explained the mission of AXA Climate: making regenerative business universal. But I don’t recall you sharing why you created a business with such a mission. What was the trigger, the context, the beginning of your journey? Was it the result of a long study and introspection or sudden lightning?

Antoine: It is the fruit of a journey lasting more than five years. When I launched AXA Climate with five employees in 2019, we started as an insurer, without expertise on climate and environmental issues. At the time, my mission was to reduce suffering in the world of work.

We gradually drew on the thread of science: climate, planetary boundaries, volume-based economic models. We understood that reducing negative impact was not enough. The planet was in such a state that it was necessary to deconstruct and rebuild the very idea of businesses; to no longer think of them and build them as extractive machines, but as living ecosystems serving life, as regenerative businesses.

After five years, AXA Climate has nearly 200 employees working to make this regenerative path possible, through training, insurance, finance, and general advice.

And you, Alain, taking your business on the path of regeneration has not been ordinary either! When you first spoke to me about it, giving yourself this vision was a bet. Only a few at Amarenco were aware of the concept. Would you tell me what route you took?

Alain: Yes, and it often feels like we are still at the beginning of this journey into the unknown!




I had an epiphany a few years ago when I watched Kiss the Ground, an inspiring groundbreaking documentary that reveals soil as the iceberg hummock, because there lies a real solution to our global environmental crisis. I started to study more about life in the soil, and the consequences of the absence of life in the soil. I was blown away by the fact that humanity stomps the ground without being aware of all the treasures it contains. I started to better understand what Antoine de Saint-Exupéry meant when he wrote, “What is essential is invisible to the eye,” in his book, The Little Prince.

I came to realize that capitalism is either regenerative or degenerative. There is nothing in between. It’s either a force for good or a force of destruction. So, do corporate living organisms have a choice other than using this energy as a force for good?

After my epiphany and the follow-on period of study, I started to look at how the company could contribute to the emergence of a regenerative economy at the heart of its activity. Together, with a unanimous board resolution to allocate capital to integrate ecosystem regeneration in each of our new projects, this is how the transformational journey started.

As you know, I am a fan of your flagship initiative, The Butterfly School, an amazing journey you co-created with Lumia and La Joli Prod to support businesses to become regenerative. I have offered the training to all my 300 employees, and I love it because it energized me. It gave me hope that intentions behind companies’ trajectories can be genuine, and the role of corporate ecosystems can really evolve and contribute in a positive way to the evolution of nature with the right shift in consciousness.

In the course of this training, you refer to 9 principles of living, somehow mirroring the nine planetary boundaries. If you had to pick one principle that you personally resonate with the most, which would it be and why?

Nature is our inspiration

Antoine: To get as many people on board as possible, we have a model of inspiration available: nature. What if a company is a living ecosystem, like a forest? It would operate according to very different principles (the 9 principles that you mention): decentralization, sub-optimality, singularity, limited growth, etc., which are all big words compared to the current doxa.

My favorite is the most difficult to achieve—sub-optimality. We have lived for decades in the omnipresent cult of performance, meaning we are constantly seeking to optimize a limited number of quantifiable variables (GDP, yields, profit, etc.) in a mechanical way. This obsession has condemned us, gradually, to destroy other less quantifiable variables, often from living things. And this frantic race places us—society, businesses, and individuals—in a condition of extreme fragility and non-adaptability. For example, what happened when a simple carrier got in the way of the Suez Canal, blocking the flow of all our imported goods? Look at the depletion of our soils following the practice of intensive agriculture.

Compare this with a company that favors resilience over performance. It will have an easier time adapting; this is the great inversion. For example, what happens when we prioritize stocks, diversity of suppliers, and resources of the local territory, close to consumers? Today, electronic products are constantly “reissued” in evermore efficient versions with more features. What if, instead, we choose to favor repairability, using modular parts that are available nearby?

There is also the question of preserving health at work. Many employees are overworked, with consequences that lead to absenteeism and burnout. Here again, we can take inspiration from nature. Our body temperature, 37°C, is far from the optimum for enzymes, which is 40°C, but the differential allows our body to maintain a large margin of maneuver in the event of infection. We need to reintroduce inefficiency into systems!

You also adhere to a different vision for your company. Amarenco is a reference in the market; and now that you have reached a significant size you are making an impact. How do you manage to bring these principles to life on a daily basis? Especially with different shareholders, it must not be easy!

Alain: We are still far from living all the principles as a collective being on a daily basis. I am a follower of the Lao Zu philosophy: “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” so we started by choosing to develop and invest in projects that are regenerative in nature.

We successfully found our singularity, which is to generate and supply regenerative electrons. This means deploying electricity that not only reduces the energy carbon footprint, but also creates a positive environmental and social impact wherever we deploy our infrastructures. We have developed a robust science-based methodology to measure and assess impact. We don’t claim to have all the solutions as we are pioneers. We nevertheless advance with conviction, passion, determination, and humility. We clearly don’t know everything, so we study, try, learn, and improve.


Expressing our singularity (which is one of the nine core living principles from The Butterfly training) every day, and staying confident that our sincere intentions and hard work will yield the fruits we hope for, is making us “alive”!

Working with challenges

One principle I find challenging is decentralization. The industry in which we operate is capital-intensive, and the gravitational forces resulting from the need of financial shareholders to control their investment has the potential to interfere with decentralized governance where everyone feels the decision is the result of a symbiotic approach.




I believe that the need to control any type of energy flow, including financial flow, is linked to a difficulty in accepting uncertainty and a lack of trust in others. When a small group of people are trying to exert high levels of control over a larger group of people, they do try to create a sense of security and predictability. And the bigger the energy quantum, the bigger the compulsion to control exists from such people. But please don’t get me wrong. I do believe in regular checkpoints, sharing analytics, risks, and challenges encountered, as well as getting inputs from the different stakeholders.

I might sometimes appear too idealistic, but I dream of being able to operate in my company the way I cook with my wife and adult kids over Christmas. We start with a common intention: to contribute to this precious moment when our family members are together by giving the very best through a memorable meal. We carefully select the dishes, everyone comes with different suggestions, and we joyfully converge to a set of two menus, one for December 24 evening, and one for December 25 noon. Then a method, the recipes.

After that, we gather the ingredients and utensils, we collectively agree upon who will do what, and we allocate one person as the owner of each dish, with the others supporting as needed. And then, well, we execute!

Even when we have to adapt during execution, because we forgot a utensil or because we don’t have enough of one ingredient, it is harmonious because we trust each other and we accept (and actually cherish) uncertainty. This organic harmonious energy flow leads to the best Christmas meals we can dream of, and a point of reference in our lives.

So Antoine, I am now offering you a challenge: When are we going to celebrate a Christmas meal together?

Antoine: Next Christmas for sure! But my three daughters will tell you that I am a disaster in the kitchen, beyond repair! So I'll take care of the drinks.

Alain: I guess you also have moments of wonder. And, of course, moments of discouragement too! Is there one moment of wonder you still cherish today and would like to share? And one moment of despair? How did you manage to overcome it and move on?

Antoine: I waited many years to realize what a wonderful thing human encounter is. When we go beyond the utilitarian angle—what purpose will this person serve me?—we achieve joy. Each meeting is an opportunity for learning together: What will this person teach me? I really like the sentence of Saint Benoit: “Go into contact with those from whom you expect nothing.” The uniqueness of each person and each connection amazes me.

Moments of discouragement? Frequent of course. Before AXA Climate, I held a very senior position in AXA France, despite my young age. However, I went through a period of deep depression. I felt disconnected. What saved me was a little inner voice, which told me in difficult times, “Real life is elsewhere.” I knew I had to listen and drop everything to start from scratch with AXA Climate.

One thing about you has always struck me—the diversity of your profile. Since you were little, you have always traveled and lived in different countries. Would you share with us what positive things this has brought you?

We are truly one

Alain: If I had to extract the quintessence of what I have learned from that exposure to a wide spectrum of cultures, family history, and experiences, it would be that we are truly one at the core of our being. We all share the same feelings—love, sorrow, hopes, doubts, and so on. When my mind wants to take me to the shores of isolation and seclusion, I firmly remind myself that we are all one, and the feeling triggered in my heart is a springboard to restart afresh with a deeper level of awareness of the undercurrent unity with everyone.

It seems that more and more young people experience and suffer from eco-anxiety. What do you recommend to them to deal with the fear of environmental doom?

Antoine: I think that anxiety comes from the gap between an external situation and a powerlessness to act. This is what paralyzes many young people in particular. My way of overcoming this anxiety? Take action, whatever the scale, no matter how small. Regain the capacity for action, like the hummingbird. All the activists, entrepreneurs, and leaders I meet who keep smiling have different ways of saying the same thing: At least I have done my part.

And do you feel anxiety on the subject? You told me you practiced an hour of meditation every morning. You project a lot of serenity.

Alain: I do believe it depends on the speed at which we will be able to arrive at a level of collective consciousness where the tipping point is reached. I am full of hope by nature, and fully resonate with what you share, i.e. focusing on my own evolution of consciousness by doing my part.


I guess if people in regenerative ecosystems are not able or willing to regenerate themselves, it is pointless. How do you regenerate yourself?

Antoine: Personally, through reading. My little daughter asked me a few days ago, “Dad, why do you read so much?” I replied, “Opening a book means meeting a friend, living or dead, and starting a discussion with them. It is magic. There are thousands waiting for you at the library.” Marcel Proust in particular accompanies me. He has the reputation of being a difficult author but the story he tells is simple: That of a small child who wakes up in an unknown world, and asks himself the essential questions: who am I, how to be loved, what are the hidden truths behind the things, places, people around me, how to create joy? In each strong moment (happy as well as unhappy) I go through in life, Proust finds the right words.

And how do you regenerate? The last time we saw each other, you were going to India to recharge your batteries.




Alain: I love the space of the heart. It regenerates me because I feel so connected to the heart of humanity in that space. When I’m fully connected I feel nothing but hope, courage, beauty, gratitude, compassion, and joy. And I also find it an infinitely renewable source of energy!

I have meditative time in the morning when I wake up, and in the evening before going to sleep, and sometimes for a few minutes during the day when my heart calls. It’s a buddy in the true sense of the word, one of incomparable loyalty and boundless generosity that invites me to join whenever it feels I need it.

I go to India because I have a family home in Hyderabad, in a natural setting called Kanha Shanti Vanam. It’s a physical space that resonates deeply with the space in my heart. Each time I go there, it allows me to dive a little deeper into the experience of our interconnectedness.

When I’m fully connected I feel
nothing but hope, courage, beauty,
gratitude, compassion, and joy.
And I also find it an infinitely renewable
source of energy!

What about you, Antoine? Do you have a special place where you go to recharge your batteries?

Antoine: Yes, Cantal, a mountainous region in central France. A deserted, mineral landscape. I like to walk there, bathe in the unique light.

Alain: The life force is so strong. I really enjoyed the Netflix documentary, A Life On Our Planet, where David Attenborough shows Pripyat, the city evacuated in the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster.

Between the time Attenborough was a child in 1937 and today, the world population has increased from 2.3 to 7.8 billion people, while the remaining wilderness of the planet has decreased from 66% to 35%. Kids born today will face catastrophic species loss in the 2030s, coral reef and fish populations dying in the 2050s, and agricultural crises in the 2080s. With our planet becoming 4°C warmer in the 2100s, large parts of the Earth will become inhabitable, leading to millions of climate refugees and the sixth mass global extinction event.

The irony is that the biodiversity of Pripyat has skyrocketed since 1986 in the absence of people. Attenborough shows us how nature has taken over the city and it has become a sanctuary for wild animals.

So, do you believe that it does not really matter what we eventually do, because nature will continue to thrive anyway without us? Or do you believe we have a role to play in contributing to the evolution of Life with all its diversity of species? 

Antoine: I deeply believe that man has a role to play, because he too is alive and connected to everything around him. The big question is for him to reveal his role, to find his place. Certainly not in exploitation, domination, or extraction, as it has been too often until now. I like the idea that man is there to give thanks, to take care, to develop life with his singular qualities: consciousness, culture, art… A regenerative enterprise is not a company that fades away, but rather a company that resolutely places itself in its territory.

Alain: At the end of each introductory interview during the Butterfly training, you ask: “If you were a plant, which one would it be and why?” So which one would it be for you?

Antoine: The olive tree. Each olive tree has a very unique shape. It is rooted, it bears fruit, and has the mark of Mediterranean culture, for which I have so much attachment. And you, Alain?

Alain: Tough one! I would probably say chili plants. In addition to the long list of their health benefits, they produce chili peppers all year, and in nearly all climates around the globe. On top of that, I just love spicy food!



Silence, consciousness, and regeneration

Antoine: How do you pass this on to your children?

Alain: You would actually have to ask them!  I’ve never really reflected on that so far... Mamma mia, your question is really baffling! What comes to mind spontaneously is that it happens very naturally, without intention, when I make myself fully available to them and they do the same with me; in other words our full presence, our full attention. From experience, the simple fact of being wholly together, without restrictions or reservations, creates the field for transmission.

I will go even a step further. Silence has so much to pass on. At the heart of silence lies vacuity and we’re always trying to fill it. Yet I find that it’s in vacuity that the source of creation lies. So, it’s in these privileged moments that the most beautiful things are created, they emerge and are passed on.

I don’t know if you’ve seen Coline Serreau’s 1996 film, La Belle Verte. At the end, there’s a concert of silence. It’s like a silent orchestra that we all enjoy together.

I’d like to ask you another question, too. What is consciousness and what link do you make between consciousness and regeneration?

Antoine: I think of this link as spiritual. The way for humans to participate in the regeneration of creation, of what surrounds them, is through the use of consciousness. Of an expanded consciousness, more and more expanded. To be conscious is to escape in a way, to connect to something greater, to return to oneself, differently, as if magnified, as if sublimated. In a personal way, the path of conscience therefore takes the contours of the path of faith, quite simply. The religious experience is above all an experience of consciousness.

The way for humans to participate 
in the regeneration of creation, 
of what surrounds them, 
is through the use of consciousness. 


Illustrations by ANANYA PATEL


Alain Desvigne

Alain Desvigne

Alain is a co-founder and CEO of Amarenco Group, a leading European solar photovoltaic infrastructure investment company based in Ireland. His 20-year career has focused on international development and investment in water and low carbon en... Read More
Antoine Denoix

Antoine Denoix

Antoine Denoix is the CEO of AXA Climate, an entity within the AXA Group established five years ago to address climate and environmental adaptation challenges. Antoine is also an accomplished author, with three books published by Dunod.<... Read More