Many people dream of making the world a better place. For Manuel Collas de La Roche, that’s just part of the job. President and Founder of the Better World Endowment Fund, Manuel Collas de La Roche finds himself at the intersection of disruptive change, innovative ideas, luminaries of politics and academia, and humanitarian causes.
Pushing forward an agenda that seeks to identify and solve the world’s most vexing problems using the globe’s foremost experts as a guide and lead, the Better World Endowment Fund embodies the power of collective activism. To achieve its goals, the endowment highlights the activities of outstanding men, women, and organizations from around the globe and helps fund their groundbreaking work. In particular, the Better World Endowment Fund uses the power of cinema and celebrity to broadcast valuable messages and missions of change across the globe. While using art as a medium for progress is part of the process, effecting substantive, actual change on the ground is the end goal and result of the endowment’s varied activities.
A results-oriented focus combined with a broad outlook helps the organization coordinate and deliver on its mission, Manuel Collas de La Roche explains. One area of current concern that we explore is the global fashion industry and its varied impacts from labor rights to environmental degradation. Citing the myriad of issues facing the sector, we are reminded of the horrors of child labor, environmental destruction, exploitation of women, and the hazardous chemicals often used in modern production. Addressing the problems at the root of the cause is one method, Manuel Collas de La Roche illustrates, but changing fundamental practices and views of how fast fashion operates is the end goal. He explains how effecting change is part of a two-step process of raising awareness and then implementing new proposals.
Manuel, start by telling us about the Better World Fund and its goals.
With a cultural thread, the Better World Fund’s vocation is to raise awareness.
Deeply humanitarian, I am convinced that together we can move mountains by providing concrete solutions to tomorrow’s challenges.
In 2016, driven by the desire to take part in this movement of awareness, I launched the Better World Fund with the precious support of Sharon Stone and Aileen Getty.
At all our events, we invite participants to a high-level program, led by inspiring and emblematic personalities, experts in their social, educational, cultural or environmental fields. Together, we will contribute to finding concrete solutions to the problems facing the contemporary world and for the future of our planet. We aim to encourage a positive impact worldwide.
My wish is to keep hope alive by doing my part as a global citizen, for the good of all.
The program wants to influence global change. How can Better World Fund help make positive changes for the future and how does it go about affecting change?
Everywhere in the world, women and men are creating, innovating, and taking action for climate change, social inequalities, culture, and education. The Better World Fund’s ambition is to highlight and financially support these actions that give hope.
Thanks to the generosity of our partners and participants, we are proud to have helped numerous associations and foundations during our successful programs and events. May it be at the Cannes Film Festival, at the Venice Film Festival, in Los Angeles, in Toronto, in Monaco, in Cairo, in New York, in Saudi Arabia or during the Expo 2020 in Dubai (on December 2021 and March 2022).
This year, we chose to support the Akbaraly Foundation, an organization that promotes the right to health, education and a better quality of life for women and children in Madagascar and the Amazônia Fund Alliance Program for the UNESCO Brazilian Federation (BFUCA), an organization that opts to preserve the Amazonian ecosystems.
Our ambition this year also is to raise awareness amongst young people who have a major role in our future; they are the promoters, prescribers and actors of the world of tomorrow.
Another highlight at Cannes will be the “2023 Academia for a Better World ABW Conference” in partnership with the Paris Saclay University. We will be honored to host international speakers to present the best solutions worldwide addressing endemic inequalities that women and children are suffering from exacerbated by climate change and social divide.
Better World Fund has had a long relationship with the Cannes Film Festival. How did the relationship with the festival begin?
My relationship to the Cannes Film Festival began a very long time ago as I produced my first film – Darshan, Directed by Jan Kounen, about Amma Mata Amritanandamayi. The film was part of the Official selection of the Cannes Film Festival back in 2006 and my adventure began.
Manuel Collas de la Roche’s inspiration: “I was fortunate to meet, 25 years ago, Matha Amritanandamayi, an exceptional Indian woman, better known as “Amma”, who has dedicated her life to international humanitarian projects including her NGO “Embracing the World”. “Amma has been an inspiration, because her relationship to the world, the way she ’embraces’ it, embodies for me the way we should look at the relationship between man, nature and our planet, … moving from ‘I’ to ‘we’.”
Why does Better World Fund work with celebrities and filmmakers to affect global change? How do celebrities and filmmakers help alter the world for the better?
The power of the cinema seemed to me an obvious way to spread messages in order to purge a positive and dynamic movement in the service of a cause that engages us collectively. And also, to raise awareness and inspire even the citizens of the world to take action for the future of our planet.
It is essential to plant seeds in people’s minds about the need to preserve our planet and to be a part of that process.
We are convinced that today, the cinema industry holds a statutory role as a vector of social, educational and environmental values. Awareness is an essential pillar of the art, as is the need to present better visibility to powerful and cause-focused films, all driven by the desire to have a positive impact on the world. We saw it at the 2023 Césars: figures from French cinema called for the invention of an “ecological way of life”. This mobilization is in line with our own. Cinema has a role to play in the face of the ecological crises, the authors point out, “that of helping to change the way the world is represented”. Film professionals are called upon to develop ecological, fair and desirable images, and to bring them to the screen with their talents. The ambition is to imagine “an ‘ecological way of life’, in which our relationship with the living world and the meaning of our civilizations are re-examined”. Many production companies are taking responsible measures and managing their films in this way.
Which social matters are most important for Better World Fund right now?
We have decided on a spreading a message that seems essential to us today and it will be the common thread of this 2023 edition in Cannes: “the evolution of humanity, from I to us”.
Within our conference program, we will explore this essential theme of living together, because in our world, where our climate alerts us to our own actions, where the rise of inflation, inequality and violence threaten our politics and our societies, living together is no longer an option. An essential movement of consciousness, aiming to give women and men their rightful place in their society, to reconcile them, so we may live together on Earth, in security and peace. With the ever-increasing levels of violence, particularly against women and girls around the world, it is imperative to rethink our patriarchal societies to ensure the respect and protection of women and furthermore, of life itself.
How do you measure success when it comes to the programs and changes the group is involved with?
The success of our editions can be evaluated by the enthusiasm of our partners as well as by the increasing number of participants at our conferences and charity events. We are improving the quality of the content of our programs and the results are therefore increasing. We want this BWF Event to be a program supported by all those who want to contribute to a better world. This is reflected by our teams’ dedication and total commitment to our common cause.
Fashion is another area in which the Better World Fund believes change can be made. How can fashion affect change in the same way that cinema and art can?
Through emotions, culture in all its forms, including fashion, are relevant means to raise citizens’ awareness, to make them sensitive to the world around them. As we all know, the textile industry has disastrous socio-environmental impacts on a global scale. The fashion sector is one of the industries with the most significant impact on climate change and reinforces socio-economic inequalities around the world (CO2, toxic chemicals in the atmosphere; raw materials often coming from developing countries; transport of finished products; child labour; overexploitation of women, massive use of water …)
But luckily, there are many ways to reduce this impact. For example, natural fibres, recycled materials, …, Thus, by adopting responsible gestures and actions, by questioning one’s own consumption, everyone can contribute to reducing the impact of fashion on the environment. In this sense, the world of fashion joins the world of cinema in the influence it has on the public, inviting them to adopt more ethical and responsible consumption habits.
Similarly to the fashion industry, we aim for a more conscious, environmentally responsible and engaged film industry. Today, everyone agrees that images can raise consciousness and change the world through their messages and subjects.
Tell us about some of the other global events the Better World Fund is involved with.
The Better World Fund has been committed to spreading a message of hope and awareness through its belief in a better world, a better future. That is what I stand for.
As such, promoting our future has been a project of mine that I have chosen to take on a global scale. More recent example of the Better World Fund’s global event includes the Better World Fund Event in Venice which took place in September 2022. During the event we discussed Climate Change and the Importance of being socially responsible. On another hand, in December 2021 and March 2022 respectively, the Better World Fund took its message to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates during the “Dubai World Expo 2020”, to spread, respectively, disability awareness and the important of inclusion; and the importance of Ocean Conservation.
This year, the Better World Fund aims to organize an event, once again in Venice, on the 7th,8th and 9th of September 2023, during The Venice Film Festival, La Mostra, to promote a better world.
What are the most important social issues you feel strongly about following the COVID-19 pandemic?
Above all, this pandemic reaffirms the need to think about the advancement of our world. It has been a revelation. The last two years, have shown us the vulnerability of our societies as well as the frailty of our lives. As I said, in a few months, living together will no longer be an option. It is a question of reinventing ourselves, of questioning our world, our societies, our priorities. Therefore, several key questions arise: how can we then change our behavior to take care of ourselves, others and our planet? Should we consider that the film industry reflects society or influences it?
Do images have a major role to play in this ambition that makes sense for the collective? Are we capable of taking part in this movement of Consciousness for a reconciliation of humans among themselves? Do we accept to draw on our inestimable strengths to transform our pain into joy and our hatred into love?
What are the social issues you believe will be the next to become major news in the near future?
I insist on this awareness, which must be at all levels. Everyone can take a step. Everyone can do a little something for the planet and for all of us.
In this sense, education has a major role to play; educating children with egalitarian beliefs today will shape the adults they become tomorrow. The young generations, in search of meaning, aspire to a different society combining societal and environmental concerns. Taking care of them, bringing them to light, listening to them, is to help them become the enlightened leaders and changemakers we will need.
What if we took advantage of this key moment to highlight the true role of young people, who, more than ever, wish to be active in the metamorphosis of this “next world”? I have deep faith in the youth who are building a better world for us all.
A special thanks to our Partners and supporters:
314 Cannes, Joanna Plafsky, Maslina Resort, Studio Mao, Squair, Clinique La Prairie, SDB New Delhi, LUXURY International Magazine, Filmfestivals.com, Chic Icon, Paris Saclay University, Paris-Saclay Foundation, Open Culture Foundation, Jazz Magazine, Responsible Jewelry Council, Ministry of National Education, Preschool and Sports of Morocco, Herflix, Luxury Limited Edition, Jazzbook Records, We Do Sync, Whet Foundation, Doctor’s Natural, Kamal Sagar / Total Environment, Luxury Investment Magazine, Rinascimento Magazine, Celebre Magazine, Circle X – The Green Trillion Club, Academia for a Better World, Fab UK Magazine, United Studio, Breaking-News-Arabia.com, Qatar-Media.tv, Dubai-Media.tvet, Breaking News: Saudi Arabia, Breaking News Kingdom of Bahrain, Opportunity Saudi, Opportunity Mena, Opportunity Europe, Inside US Films, Wella Company, Maia Wine, France Musique, !Teoola, Fashion TV.
The entire program will be livestreamed on HERFLIX platform.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I would like to thank you again for your help in relaying our messages, the press and media also contribute to this evolution of awareness.
To learn more about Manuel Collas de La Roche and the Better World Endowment Fund, please visit
Contact 1: [email protected]
Contact 2: [email protected]
Images credit: ©IanAbela