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News blog19 December 2023European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency3 min read

Mountain Guide of Change: Xénia Vall's Journey in Ecological Transition

Tune in to the Remarkable Climate Leaders Podcast's third episode and delve into the inspiring story of Xénia Vall. A dynamic force hailing from a small French municipality, she shares her journey and the challenges of promoting ecological transition

Xénia - Remarkable Climate Leaders Podcast

Welcome to the Remarkable Climate Leaders Podcast’s third episode, where we delve into the inspiring story of Xénia Vall. As an elected representative and director of Verteco, a local initiative, Xénia shares her journey and the challenges of promoting ecological transition.


Verteco's Roots and Initiatives 

The podcast begins by introducing Verteco, a non-profit organization founded five years ago in the Vercors near Grenoble. Xénia Vall, co-founder and fourth-year President, explains that "Verteco means green, and company, but it is also a wordplay. People from Vercors, we call them Vertaco.". 

The goal of Verteco is to promote ecological transition by encouraging residents to adopt actions that reduce their impact on climate change and biodiversity loss. 


Circular Economy in Action  

In a volunteer-based commitment, Verteco’s team organises a variety of projects, including educational initiatives on gardening, permaculture, composting, hosting conferences, and workshops, etc. Added to that, they also work on a program for schools, for mobility and water. 

An interesting project involves collecting second-hand toys from families, cleaning them, and selling them at Christmas markets, promoting the idea of sustainable gifting

“This is not to earn money, It's just to show people that you can also buy second-hand gifts to your kids. (…) This is an education action.” Xénia Vall  (9:55)


Facing Challenges with Resilience 

Xénia highlights the challenge of educating people and bringing climate change topics closer to their hearts. She sees the circular economy also as a way to transmit knowledge, encouraging self-sufficiency and reducing the environmental impact.  

“The problem is not that people are bad, that's not that, they're just not aware. The challenge it is really to make them open the eyes, that the change is happening here.” Xénia Vall  (9:09)


Xénia's Dual Role  

A dynamic force, she influences both from the community as well as from the political perspective. The leader is not only, one of the initiative’s founders and four-year President, but also serves in her municipality's council, aiming to influence ecological transition from both sides. 

She acknowledges the importance of working together with other cities in the region, and pooling resources for impactful projects. 

“(…) we always criticize politicians say what they should do or they should not do about it. This is not fair. And the best way for me was to join the city council to learn how it works from the inside. And to be able to help with the questions of transition and climate change on other things that I like, like creating communities in the village.” Xénia Vall  (5:38)


Embracing Change Together 

The commitment between cities, allows the opportunity to to have better projects. 

“(…) for example the transition commission that we have that meets every month, we have projects together, that's very interesting, about mobility, especially and energy, kind of things like that, that a small city cannot do alone.” Xénia Vall  (6:43)

Moreover, she praises the citizens' interest and commitment to ecological initiatives. With both long-time residents and newcomers supporting green values, she notices a growing awareness of the importance of living in harmony with nature. 


Xénia's Vision of a Climate Leader 

To Xénia, a climate leader is not just a leader but a guide, similar to a mountain guide. Someone who shows the way, making others aware of the beauty around them, and fostering a love for and protection of the environment


In conclusion, Xénia Vall's journey exemplifies the power of community-led ecological initiatives. By educating, inspiring, and leading by example, she and Verteco are making a significant impact in their small corner of the world, showing that change begins at the local level. 


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