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Russia

When Mom Believes Putin: A Russian Family Torn Apart Over Ukraine Invasion

Sisters Rante and Satu Vodich fled Russia because they could no longer bear to live under Putin — but their mother believes state propaganda about the war. Her daughters are building a new life for themselves in Georgia.

TBILISI — On a gloomy afternoon in May, Rante Vodich gets the keys to her new home. A week earlier, the 27-year-old found this wooden shed in Tbilisi, with a corrugated iron roof and ramshackle bathroom. The shed next door houses an old bed covered in dust. Vodich refers to the place as a “studio” and pays $300 per month in rent. She says finding the studio is the best thing that’s happened to her since she came to Georgia. It is her hope for the future.

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Her younger sister Satu Vodich is around 400 kilometers further west, in the city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, surrounded by Russian tourists, Ukrainian flags, skyscrapers with sea views and the run-down homes of local residents.

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File photo of a mother carrying her daughter on a barricade made of tires in Kyiv
THE LATEST
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Anna Akage

Sergey Lavrov, Putin’s Decoy-In-Chief

The Russian Foreign Minister, among the country’s most recognizable figures, embodies both the corruption and confusion of the Putin regime. Not everything is what it seems — and that’s the point.

From the outside, one might have the impression that the Russian Federation is run through a highly complex and well-coordinated apparatus that ensures that any single cog in Vladimir Putin’s system is by definition both in synch with the other cogs — and utterly replaceable. The Kremlin appears to us through this lens as an impregnable citadel with long arms and peering eyes that are literally everywhere.

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And yet, this is a completely false picture — and there’s no greater proof than in looking more closely at one of Russia's most prominent figures, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

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In The News
Shaun Lavelle, Anna Akage and Emma Albright

War In Ukraine, Day 124: Zelensky To G7, Let’s Try To End War Before Winter

Ukrainian President Zelensky addressed the G7 leaders via video call at the summit in Kruen, Germany, where he asked to “intensify sanctions” against Russia and warned against the war dragging on.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told G7 leaders that he wanted the Russia-Ukraine war to end before the winter sets in, according to Reuters.

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Zelensky addressed the G7 leaders via video call at the summit in Kruen, Germany, where he asked to “intensify sanctions” against Russia. He also requested more reconstruction aid, aircraft defense systems, further help on exporting grain out of the country as well as security guarantees.

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In The News
Joel Silvestri, Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Zelensky At G7, More Roe v. Wade Fallout, Record Japan Heat

👋 Grüss Gott!*

Welcome to Monday, where Volodymyr Zelensky addresses G7 leaders as strikes hit Kyiv, reverberations continue after the end of U.S. federal protection for abortion rights, and Japan asks 37 million citizens to turn the lights off. Meanwhile, for French economic daily Les Échos, Benjamin Quénelle looks at the “inevitable” recession around the corner for Russia, despite its apparent resilience to Western sanctions.

[*Swabian - Germany]

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Society
Candace Johnson

To California Or Canada? Crossing State And National Borders For Abortions

Among the most immediate effects of the overturning of Roe v. Wade is that women who find themselves in states where abortion is outlawed will travel to where it is legal. But that of course requires the right information and economic means to do so.

GUELPH — After the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights for American women, what will it mean for the countries that share a border with the United States? What will be the impact for Americans who want to travel to Mexico or Canada to get access to abortions?

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Society
Banjot Kaur

Taking A Position: A Call To Regulate Yoga In India

Trained practitioners warn that unregulated yoga can be detrimental to people's health. The government in India, where the ancient practice was invented, knows this very well — yet continues to postpone regulation.

NEW DELHI — Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the observance of the eighth International Yoga Day from Mysuru, in southwestern India, early on the morning of June 21. Together with his colleagues from the Bharatiya Janata Party, he set out to mark the occasion in various parts of the country — reviving an annual ritual that had to take a break for the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yoga is one of the five kinds of alternative Indian medicine listed under India’s AYUSH efforts — standing for "Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and naturopathy, and Homeopathy." Among them, only yoga is yet to be regulated under any Act of Parliament: All other practices are governed by the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine (NCISM), Act 2020.

Yoga and naturopathy are taught at the undergraduate level in 70 medical colleges across 14 Indian states. The Mangalore University in Karnataka first launched this course in 1989; today, these subjects are also taught at the postgraduate level.

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Economy
Benjamin Quénelle

How Much Longer Can The Russian Economy Survive Sanctions?

The head of the Kremlin boasted at the recent forum in St. Petersburg International Economic Forum about Russia’s economic resilience against Western sanctions. But behind the scenes, Russian business leaders tell a different story.

-Analysis-

MOSCOW — "The most effective sanction to weaken the Kremlin? Not to target us and punish us, but to give us visas instead ... to abandon the sinking the ship!" This businessman's iconoclastic perspective embodies the anxiety one could detect percolating just below the surface at the "Russian Davos" Forum in St. Petersburg last week.

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Officially called the "International" Economic Forum, the annual event organized by Vladimir Putin is meant to attract foreign investors — but this year, the elite of the national business community were cut off from the rest of the world. "Just among Russians... And forced to line up behind the regime and its economic strategies that lead us to a dead end," says the same source, a Russian manager in one of the main state-owned companies.

Like so many others, this man in his 40s, a typical representative of the new upper middle class, with a foreign passport in hand, educated in the West, liberal and multilingual, discovered his name on the lists of Western sanctions. Directly or indirectly, a large part of the Russian business world has been caught up in the European and U.S. sanctions against Moscow.

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Geopolitics
Julio Borges

Venezuela-Iran: Maduro And The Axis Of Chaos In The Americas

With the complicity of leftist rulers in Venezuela, Bolivia and even Argentina, Iran's sanction-ridden regime is spreading its tentacles in South America, and could even undermine democracies.

-Analysis-

CARACASThe dangers posed by Venezuela's relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran is something we've warned about before. Though not new, the dangers have changed considerably in recent years.

They began under Venezuela's late leader, Hugo Chávez , when he decided to turn his back on the West and move closer to countries outside our geopolitical sphere. In 2005, Chávez and Iran's then president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, signed collaborative agreements in areas beyond the economy, with goals that included challenging the West and spreading Iran's presence in Latin America.

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In The News

Special Sauce To Sriracha, Globalization Is Thriving And Terribly Broken

June 25-26

  • A foreigner’s view on U.S. gun culture
  • Scholz, at home and abroad
  • A environmentally-minded robo-fish
  • … and much more.
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FOCUS
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

To "Not Humiliate" Putin Is The Real Danger

French President Emmanuel Macron is making a point of keeping an open dialogue with Putin, hoping to avoid a world war at all costs. But he needs to get his historical comparisons (and world wars) in order.

-Analysis-

PARIS — “I know Putin well. We should not be hoping for him to leave: whoever is likely to succeed him will be much worse.”

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This is what former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said to me in 2017, while we were in New York. He was trying to moderate my growing hostility towards the Kremlin’s leader. In fact, in the same sentence, he wanted to also reassure me about the United States President Donald Trump, who had just come into the room: “He may be unpredictable, but he is not an ideologue.”

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Google Search Or SciFi Time Travel? Why Post-War Ukraine Must Begin Now

Why has Russia invaded Ukraine? Internet readers want to know. What will Ukraine be like after the war? That's a question to start answering, even if the battle is far from over.

-Analysis-

KYIV — During the first week of the war in Ukraine, the most frequently searched question on Google was, “Why did Russia invade Ukraine?" In response, a team of Ukrainian communications experts hoping to answer this question posted a large red ‘Why’ button on the official ‘War in Ukraine’ homepage, directing readers to an explanation of Russia’s ideological rationale for invading Ukraine.

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Last week, "cholera" and "Peter I" appeared among the top Google search queries linked to Ukraine. The reasons for each are easy to explain. For the first, outbreaks of contagious diseases, including cholera, have been reported in the occupied city of Mariupol. The city itself is deprived of access to clean drinking water and has no access to hospitals and doctors who specialize in infectious diseases.

And the second?

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When The Age Of Compromise Gave Way To A Time Of Heroism

We know them from the movies: the heroes who save the world from disaster in the nick of time. In real life, you sometimes look for them in vain. But the Russian invasion of Ukraine shows that the West needs new heroes.

-OpEd-

BERLIN — In recent times, we speak more and more frequently about the end of globalization or even the beginning of de-globalization. The world in which the will to compromise and where unity prevailed unfortunately has definitively come to an end. It was February 24, and the unprovoked Russian act of war awakened us to a world dominated by conflict.

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In order for the West — for us — to be able to cope with this reality, it is essential that we not only accept this notion, which is unpleasant for some, but that we also understand that with the era of globalization, another great era is also coming to an end: the era where heroes are not required.

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Good Biden, Bad Scholz, Tail-Wagging Macron: How Ukrainians Really See World Leaders

Ukrainians assess their friends, enemies and frenemies...

Which of today's world leaders provides the full support Ukraine truly needs? Who plays into Putin's hands? Who's caught in the middle, and lacks the courage to choose sides?

With an overdue visit to Kyiv Thursday by three of Europe’s top leaders, Emmanuel Macron of France, Olaf Scholz of Germany and Mario Draghi of Italy, those questions were whispered far from the photo ops. The question of the solidity of its alliances are life-and-death for Kyiv, facing a much stronger military in an existential war against Russia.

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Ukraine has so far received about 10% of the military aid it needs from Western partners to counter Russian aggression, Deputy Defense Minister Anna Malyar said Tuesday during a television fundraising drive.

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MOST READ
Economy
Benjamin Quénelle

How Much Longer Can The Russian Economy Survive Sanctions?

The head of the Kremlin boasted at the recent forum in St. Petersburg International Economic Forum about Russia’s economic resilience against Western sanctions. But behind the scenes, Russian business leaders tell a different story.

-Analysis-

MOSCOW — "The most effective sanction to weaken the Kremlin? Not to target us and punish us, but to give us visas instead ... to abandon the sinking the ship!" This businessman's iconoclastic perspective embodies the anxiety one could detect percolating just below the surface at the "Russian Davos" Forum in St. Petersburg last week.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Officially called the "International" Economic Forum, the annual event organized by Vladimir Putin is meant to attract foreign investors — but this year, the elite of the national business community were cut off from the rest of the world. "Just among Russians... And forced to line up behind the regime and its economic strategies that lead us to a dead end," says the same source, a Russian manager in one of the main state-owned companies.

Like so many others, this man in his 40s, a typical representative of the new upper middle class, with a foreign passport in hand, educated in the West, liberal and multilingual, discovered his name on the lists of Western sanctions. Directly or indirectly, a large part of the Russian business world has been caught up in the European and U.S. sanctions against Moscow.

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In The News
Cameron Manley and Emma Albright

War In Ukraine, Day 121: The Fall Of Severodonetsk

After weeks of raging battles, it appears Severodonetsk is set to fall under full control of Russian forces. The governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Haidai wrote on Telegram that Ukrainian forces will have to withdraw from the strategic city in southeastern Ukraine.

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The decision to retreat was made in order to save Ukrainian soldiers: “Nobody abandons our guys, nobody allows the encirclement (of our troops). The situation right now is as such that staying at these destroyed positions just for the sake of being there doesn't make sense,” Haidai said. At least 90% of the city's infrastructure has been destroyed.

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Geopolitics
Igor Ilyash

Unpacking Why Belarus Will Or Won't Join The War Against Ukraine

Analysts have closely followed whether Belarus, a loyal Kremlin ally, will invade its neighbor. But even though the Belarusian president toes the Kremlin line, he is unlikely to want to get in over his head in Ukraine.

-Analysis-

KYIV — For several months, Belarusian troops have been conducting regular training exercises, particularly in the regions bordering Ukraine. Combined with the specific statements by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, this raises logical fears about the direct involvement of the Belarusian army in the war.

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Geopolitics
Nahuel Gallotta

Pink Cocaine: New Mystery Drug Hits Buenos Aires Club Scene

'Tuci,' as it's known locally, is making its mark in the Argentina. But is it really the designer drug 2C-B, or just a dirty mix concocted by Colombian dealers?

BUENOS AIRESThe "menu" of options, sent every other week via WhatsApp, arrived like it always did, Josefina (not her real name) recalls. Only this time there was something that caught her eye besides the constantly increasing prices. "Tuci," it said.

Josefina's dealer was offering a new drug, one she'd never heard of before. And at 1,500 Argentine peso (46 euros) per gram, Tuci was the priciest of the lot. Surprised — and also curious — resent the list to a group of WhatsApp contacts. She wanted to see what her friends thought.

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In The News
Anna Akage, Shaun Lavelle, Lisa Berdet and Emma Albright

Russia Aims Again At Kharkiv, 15 Civilians Killed

Attacks in Ukraine's second biggest city are reminiscent of strategy in Mariupol.

At least 15 confirmed civilian deaths were reported by this morning in Kharkiv, after the Russian army fired multiple Uragan rockets at an industrial area of the northeastern city where there were no military facilities, according to Serhiy Bolvinov, head of the Investigative Department of the Kharkiv Region Police Department.

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"Russian forces are now hitting the city of Kharkiv in the same way that they previously were hitting Mariupol, intending to terrorize the population," Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in a video address.

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Dottoré!
Mariateresa Fichele

Mightier Than The Sword

"What am I supposed to do with this, Dottoré?"

I have a patient who’s in great distress because of a physical peculiarity of his.

"Gennaro, did you know that in Ancient Greece, heroes, kings and all important men were said to have a small penis? Greeks associated small penises with moderation, one of the indispensable qualities of manhood — and therefore of a warrior. In contrast, a large penis symbolized the inability to manage impulses and act with intelligence and decisiveness. Actually, elderly men were often depicted as having large penises."

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In The News
Cameron Manley, Lila Paulou, McKenna Johnson, Bertrand Hauger and Emma Albright

Stark World Divisions, As BRICS And EU Meetings Coincide

Russian President Vladimir Putin is being hosted (virtually) by China, along with Brazil, India and South Africa, as Europe is set to offer precious EU candidate status to Ukraine.

The synching of the diplomatic calendar is pure coincidence, but it offers a clear picture of a world starkly divided nearly four months since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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China is hosting the 14th BRICS summit alongside the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa to discuss global economic recovery, climate action and public health. The meeting is the clearest opportunity for Russian President Vladimir Putin since his invasion of Ukraine to demonstrate that he is not isolated diplomatically.

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LGBTQ Plus

LGBTQ+ International: Sports Bans Tipping Point, Indian Uterus Transplant — And The Week’s Other Top News

All things LGBTQ+, from Peru, Morocco, NYC, Uganda ...

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — a topic that you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!

Featuring, this week:

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In The News
Anna Akage, Shaun Lavelle and Emma Albright

How Ukrainian TV Was Turned Upside Down After Feb. 24

Banding together, once rivals created a wartime system where media groups share several air hours a day, which are broadcast by all six central TV channels to ensure around-the-clock broadcasting.

With the start of the full-scale war, the leaders of Ukraine’s largest television holdings — typically business (and sometimes, political) rivals quickly got together to reorder the way TV would be broadcast in the face of the Russian invasion.

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Ukrainian Pravda has reported on the back story of this momentous decision to effectively turn national broadcasting into an ongoing shared telethon.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Maryna Dadinova

Google Search Or SciFi Time Travel? Why Post-War Ukraine Must Begin Now

Why has Russia invaded Ukraine? Internet readers want to know. What will Ukraine be like after the war? That's a question to start answering, even if the battle is far from over.

-Analysis-

KYIV — During the first week of the war in Ukraine, the most frequently searched question on Google was, “Why did Russia invade Ukraine?" In response, a team of Ukrainian communications experts hoping to answer this question posted a large red ‘Why’ button on the official ‘War in Ukraine’ homepage, directing readers to an explanation of Russia’s ideological rationale for invading Ukraine.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Last week, "cholera" and "Peter I" appeared among the top Google search queries linked to Ukraine. The reasons for each are easy to explain. For the first, outbreaks of contagious diseases, including cholera, have been reported in the occupied city of Mariupol. The city itself is deprived of access to clean drinking water and has no access to hospitals and doctors who specialize in infectious diseases.

And the second?

Watch VideoShow less
Geopolitics
Julio Borges

Venezuela-Iran: Maduro And The Axis Of Chaos In The Americas

With the complicity of leftist rulers in Venezuela, Bolivia and even Argentina, Iran's sanction-ridden regime is spreading its tentacles in South America, and could even undermine democracies.

-Analysis-

CARACASThe dangers posed by Venezuela's relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran is something we've warned about before. Though not new, the dangers have changed considerably in recent years.

They began under Venezuela's late leader, Hugo Chávez , when he decided to turn his back on the West and move closer to countries outside our geopolitical sphere. In 2005, Chávez and Iran's then president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, signed collaborative agreements in areas beyond the economy, with goals that included challenging the West and spreading Iran's presence in Latin America.

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Geopolitics
Luis Rubio

Our World Is "Flat" No More: Welcome To The Era Of Pure Geopolitics

The dominance of a single narrative of globalization and liberal democracy is over.

-Analysis-

MEXICO CITY — As the Bolshevik leader Lenin once observed, there are decades when nothing happens and weeks in which decades take place. The big turns in history tend to go unnoticed in their decisive moments because daily life doesn't suddenly change for most people around the world.

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Yet in retrospect, certain moments become crucial. Everything suggests the invasion of Ukraine is one of those turning points, with enormous implications for the world's future.

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Society
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank and Sophia Constantino

End Of Roe v. Wade, The World Is Watching

As the Supreme Court decides to overturn the 1973 decision that guaranteed abortion rights, many fear an imminent threat to abortion rights in the U.S. But in other countries, the global fight for sexual and reproductive rights is going in different directions.

PARIS — Nearly 50 years after it ensured the right to abortion to Americans, the United States Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade case, meaning that millions of women in the U.S. may lose their constitutional right to abortion.

The groundbreaking decision is likely to set off a range of restrictions on abortion access in multiple states in the U.S., half of which are expected to implement new bans on the procedure. Thirteen have already passed "trigger laws" that will automatically make abortion illegal.

U.S. President Joe Biden called the ruling "a tragic error" and urged individual states to enact laws to allow the procedure.

In a country divided on such a polarizing topic, the decision is likely to cause major shifts in American law and undoubtedly spark outrage among the country’s pro-choice groups. Yet the impact of such a momentous shift, like others in the United States, is also likely to reverberate around the world — and perhaps, eventually, back again in the 50 States.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Dominique Moïsi

To "Not Humiliate" Putin Is The Real Danger

French President Emmanuel Macron is making a point of keeping an open dialogue with Putin, hoping to avoid a world war at all costs. But he needs to get his historical comparisons (and world wars) in order.

-Analysis-

PARIS — “I know Putin well. We should not be hoping for him to leave: whoever is likely to succeed him will be much worse.”

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

This is what former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said to me in 2017, while we were in New York. He was trying to moderate my growing hostility towards the Kremlin’s leader. In fact, in the same sentence, he wanted to also reassure me about the United States President Donald Trump, who had just come into the room: “He may be unpredictable, but he is not an ideologue.”

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Geopolitics
Achraf Tijani

Who Is Lauriane Doumbouya, The French Wife Of Guinea's Coup Leader?

During the recent inauguration of new Guinea president Mamadi Doumbouya, the presence of a female French police officer alongside the coup leader grabbed the public's attention. But little is still known about the new first lady.

The phone rings over and over without response. There is no one to answer the line registered to Mamadi Doumbouya. The contact refers to an address in Chabeuil, more precisely to a staff house in the gendarmerie , the French military police corps, of this small town in southeastern France. It was there that Lauriane Doumbouya, née Darboux, used to serve in the French police force.

No one answers because the French officer now lives several thousand miles away, where during the Oct. 1 inauguration ceremony of Mamadi Doumbouya as the new president of Guinea, the presence of this white woman did not go unnoticed.

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Ideas
Jacob Edmond

The Russian Art Of Protesting Through Silence

English Professor Jacob Edmond takes a look at the creative ways that Russian journalists, writers and artists are turning forced silence into powerful statements.

-Analysis-

“It is impossible to stop a speeding train by throwing oneself onto the tracks,” wrote Russian poet Dmitry Kuzmin back in March. He was commenting on Olga Gordienko, a young teacher who, before she was arrested, stood for several minutes on a Moscow street with a sign that read:

At least don’t lie to yourself. War is death. Enough of this bloody fight for peace!

While acknowledging the teacher’s bravery, Kuzmin warned protestors to take care. Change would not come through such isolated acts, however admirable.

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What would you do if your country launched a war of aggression, causing tens of thousands of deaths and displacing millions? What if the price of protest or even posting objections on social media was arrest and imprisonment?

What if you knew that over the past decades many of your country’s most outspoken journalists had been killed for refusing to the toe the government line? What if even mentioning the word “war” online, in print, or on the street was illegal?

Would you speak out, or keep quiet and bide your time?

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THE NEW NOW
THE NEW NOW

Claire Falzone: Veolia's Startup ''Play'' For Smart Energy Solutions

Five Questions for the Head of Business Innovation at Veolia on the launch of its new 'Open Playground' program.

In partnership with: ChangeNOW

One of the world leaders in bringing innovation to the energy transition, French company Veolia chose changeNOW to announce the launch of its new Open Playground program. This initiative aims to confront the climate emergency by helping to build innovative, sustainable solutions by working together with startups committed to the environment. Veolia's Head of Business Innovation Claire Falzone recently told us more about it, and about the importance of co-creation in the urgent quest for new solutions.

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