Dr. Richard Sandor, Chevalier of the Legion of Honor
Dear Dr. Richard Sandor,
It is a great pleasure and honor for our Consul general Graham Paul and for me to be here today with you in Chicago, in this beautiful home. We are gathered this afternoon to celebrate the many achievements of our host, Dr. Richard Sandor, one of the world’s most renowned financial innovators and entrepreneurs, who is also a great friend of France and an exceptional individual.
I would like to thank Richard Sandor’s family and friends who have joined us here this afternoon to show their support and admiration, with a special word of appreciation, to his wife Ellen, to whom I also want to pay tribute today.
May I also acknowledge your many distinguished colleagues from the academic and business world who are here with us on this very special occasion.
Before proceeding with the ceremony, I would like to say a few words about the award I will have the privilege of bestowing upon Richard Sandor. The Legion of Honor was created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 to reward extraordinary accomplishments and outstanding services rendered to France. It is France’s highest distinction and one of the most coveted in the world.
You have accomplished so much that it is difficult to briefly sum up all your outstanding achievements. I would like to start with your academic career. You are currently a Distinguished Professor of Environmental Finance at Beijing University, a visiting fellow at the University of Oxford, and a lecturer in law and economics at the University of Chicago Law School, and you previously taught at several other of the most prestigious American universities: Berkeley, Stanford, Columbia, Northwestern. You also received an honorary degree from the Swiss Institute of Technology in Zurich for your work developing market-based solutions to environmental problems.
At the University of Chicago, you are deeply involved with the Coase-Sandor Institute. With your strong support, the Institute will continue and expand the legacy of your teacher and mentor Ronald Coase, a Nobel laureate in Economics. We know how much Professor Coase’s work inspired your academic and professional careers. You both share a love for China, where you contribute to the growth of their financial and environmental markets.
Beyond your academic activities, you held different positions during your professional career at major investment banks, among them France’s Banque Indosuez, and as a board member of some of the world’s leading exchanges. At the Chicago Board of Trade, you served as vice president and chief economist in the early 1970s. During that time, you became the principal architect of the interest-rate futures market. And you are currently the Chairman and CEO of “Environmental Financial Products”.
A true visionary, you are driven by three main passions: innovation, environment and culture.
France is paying tribute today to an extraordinary innovator and original thinker. When we read about your accomplishments, your name is always preceded by such descriptions as “founder,” “originator,” “creator,” and “pioneer.” You are globally recognized as the father of “financial futures,” a revolution that started right here in Chicago in the mid-1970s. These new financial products have had a tremendous impact worldwide, including in France, where you served as a member of the International Advisory Board of the MATIF (Marché à terme international de France).
You are also deeply concerned by the fate of our planet and the future of our children. To address global challenges, you have developed innovative market-based mechanisms to mitigate climate and environmental risks. In so doing, you have completely changed our approach to solving today’s most pressing problems. To put those ideas into action, you founded the Chicago Climate Exchange, the world’s first voluntary, legally binding cap-and-trade system for gas. On that basis, among others, you also helped launch the European Climate Exchange.
You have received countless prestigious awards. Time Magazine honored you in 2002 as one of its “Heroes for the Planet” and again in 2007 as one of its “Heroes of the Environment.” Never one to rest on your laurels, you are now focusing your efforts on one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century – water. France, which is at the forefront of the battle for sustainable development, is proud to recognize your accomplishments in the field of environmental finance and carbon trading.
Dear Richard, as your colleague Prof. Schill rightly put it, “your innovations on water and carbon market place you at the center of global economic innovation today”.
You consider that the next financial revolution will be in the convergence of the financial market and the environment.
And you are deeply committed to international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As you know this is one of France’s top priorities as in 2015 we will host the next major international conference on climate change in Paris.
Finally, you are a man of culture and a philanthropist. A true renaissance man. You and your wife, Ellen, a world-renowned artist, are two of the premier American collectors of art and photography, including French historical photography. You are a member of the Board of Governors of the School of the Art Institute, and you both are Major Benefactors of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Gene Siskel Film Center, with which the French Consulate has partnered for many years.
As you yourself say, your interest in France goes back to your early childhood and is truly part of your DNA and also I believe a source of inspiration from a professional but also a personal and cultural perspective.
So on behalf of the President of france, it is a great privilege for me to bestow upon you the insignia of Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur for your many accomplishments in the field of environmental finance and carbon trading, as well as for your personal commitment to French-American Friendship. I will now proceed in French:
Richard Sandor, au nom du Président de la République, je vous fais Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur./.