He is a photographer, journalist reporter, producer-animator and writer: Nicolas Hulot, the French ecologist's favourite, is now Minister of State and Minister for Ecological and Solidarity Transition. Long approached to join the government, he had always refused the positions he was offered. This time, he took the plunge alongside Emmanuel Macron. But who is Nicolas Hulot, the minister who gives hope to the ecolos? Born on April 30, 1955 in Lille, Nicolas Hulot is the son of a housewife who became a medical visitor and a father who was a company manager and a former gold miner in Venezuela. After high school at Saint Jean de Passy high school in Paris, he studied a few months at the medical school, then went on to do odd jobs: beach attendant, waiter or even sailing instructor. At the age of 18, he discovered photography and was recruited as a photo reporter by Goksin Sipahioglu, founder of the SIPA press agency.
Nicolas Hulot, the reporter
Thus, he travels the world for 5 years, often in difficult conditions, and discovers his passion for adventure and journalism. He then witnessed significant events and produced reports testifying to the suffering of populations affected by wars or natural disasters, and during which he shared unique landscapes from all over the world. He was sent to Zimbabwe in the midst of the independence war and to South Africa during the events that preceded the end of apartheid. On November 2, 1979, when the criminal Jacques Mesrine was shot dead in Paris, Nicolas Hulot was among the first reporters at the scene of the shooting, but he decided not to take any pictures of the scene. The photo later led him to take an interest in the written press. He then joined France Inter at the end of the seventies and made his first steps into radio.
A promising career in the audiovisual industry
Seven years later, he began presenting the television show Ushuaia, the extreme magazine, in which he takes viewers to the most improbable and incredible places on the planet on board low or no-polluting transport. He then became one of the great French spokespersons for the protection of nature. In 1990, he created the Ushuaia Foundation, dedicated to environmental protection, which in 1995 became the Nicolas Hulot Foundation for Nature and Mankind and of which he is still president. Recognized as a public utility, the NGO aims to inform about the ecological state of the planet, and to convince people of the need to change their behaviour.
A strong commitment for environmental protections and politics
Appreciated by French public opinion and by a large number of political leaders, it uses its notoriety to deliver its ecological messages. Over the years, his commitment has taken a more political turn and his opinion on environmental issues has been sought by Laurent Fabius, Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Holland. But he never accepted the positions of senior political officials that were offered to him. In 2007, Nicolas Hulot announced that he would not run for the presidential elections despite 11% voting intentions and many supporters, but called on the presidential candidates with an Ecological Pact. Signed by 5 candidates out of 12, including Segolene Royal, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Bayrou, this Pact contains ten objectives and five proposals for sustainable development. In 2011, Nicolas Hulot participated in the primary school of Europe ecologie-Les Verts for the 2012 presidential elections but was defeated by Eva Joly. In 2015, he participated in the organization and success of COP21 in Paris. In 2016, he renounced running in the presidential election of 2017 despite numerous requests, and assured that he would not support any candidate.
Although he is one of the most popular media figures in France, Nicolas Hulot has regularly been the target of criticism because of the links between his foundation and large groups with little concern for environmental protection such as EDF, Vinci or L'Oréal. It is also criticised for not being radical enough in criticising the capitalist economic system. Today in any case, his arrival at the head of the ministry raises many hopes because of his undeniable legitimacy acquired after years of commitment to the ecological transition.