From learning about the complications of climate change and water bodies on World Water Day, exploring biodiversity ahead of Earth Hour, to on-ground quizzes and efforts to encourage sustainable habits – this Earth Day, we unpack the highlights from INSEAD’s very first cross-campus Earth Week.
Organised by the INSEAD Operations & Campus Services (OCS) team and the Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society, with involvement from our students, the five-day INSEAD Earth week consisted of on-campus activities and conversations to share knowledge on topics related to our planet. Kicking off on International Day of Forests on 21 March, Earth Week began with interactions around the booth and faculty, students and staff playing a quiz and winning merchandise around water conservation sponsored by the Singapore Public Utilities Board (PUB) on the Asia campus.
Opening the webinars for the week on World Water Day (22 March) was alumni Alexandre Parlange MAP’19 Apr in a session with INSEAD MBA student Mattijs Van Miert 22D, discussing the complications of climate change and barriers for business in implementing solutions. With increasing discussion and awareness around climate change, businesses are beginning to address the challenge. However, this is only one aspect where our natural environment is under pressure by human activity.
In the session, Parlange outlined the nine planetary boundaries, including ocean acidification, freshwater use, and biodiversity, and how we should be using these environmental resources without completely disrupting the overall system of the earth. Van Miert and Parlange discussed that while government regulation is often an important driving force, companies also must ensure our economy remains, or returns, within these boundaries. Business can work on two levers: innovation and behavioural change, and we should be optimistic about technology, as it will help us to develop new solutions.
Addressing other behavioural changes was the session on the future of sustainable eating held on 23rd March. Abel Ariza, James Liauw and Dr. Reena Sharma from Sodexo joined Shubhpreet Kaur from the Hoffmann Institute to highlight Sodexo’s sustainable strategy initiatives and discuss sustainable eating. Serving an estimated 100 million consumers daily in 56 countries, Sodexo has been INSEAD’s partner since 2000 and continues to work with the school in serving sustainability on campus.
In the same vein, Ariza spoke about the company’s Better Tomorrow Plan 2025 which is “a roadmap aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” covering six areas of food waste management, sustainable eating, social impact, responsible sourcing, reduction of single-use plastic, and lastly, the reduction of carbon footprint. Highlighting the popularity of plant-based food, Liauw mentioned it was not a trend rather a “social shift” occurring in society with the emergence of conscious consumers. Adding to this, Dr. Sharma underlined that in order to ensure plant-based foods are healthy, they need to provide the same, or better nutritional value as the plant-based counterparts.
Shedding the light on INSEAD Asia campus, and the ways it walks the talk on sustainability was the 24 March session with James Middleditch and Kelvin Wong. The Director for Operations and Campus Services (International), Middleditch discussed the ways in which the Asia campus (recently awarded the Green Mark Platinum) is going green. A short video produced with Wong showcased the campus’s regenerative lifts, green walls, solar photovoltaic panels and other approaches towards energy efficiency and environmental protection.
Addressing a query on the benefits of green walls, Middleditch explained how they do more than provide aesthetic support. Green walls create a slightly cooler environment by reducing the urban heating effect, they also reduce noise pollution and improve well-being with various studies showing the positive and healing effects of being in nature.
Closing off the webinars for INSEAD Earth Week was the session on 25th March on biodiversity loss and threatened ecosystems with Dr. Jessica Lee from Mandai Nature, Dr. Kelly Siman from National University of Singapore, and INSEAD MBA student Victor Van Dooren 22D. The enriching conversation discussed how biodiversity ties into the nine planetary boundaries, the intricacies and connections with climate change, and what solutions and research-backed initiatives have been developed across the region.
While climate change has been on the public agenda for some time now, the challenges facing biodiversity are only recently starting to gain a similar level of attention. The session revealed that biodiversity and climate change are intrinsically linked through dynamic processes, and nature-based solutions that conserve biodiversity might even help us to tackle climate change. Business and policy makers can play an important role by incorporating the value of a biodiverse natural world into their decision making, especially since biodiversity secures the foundational building blocks to many ecosystem services, business operations and production resources that livelihoods and economies depend on.
As the packed week of webinars, wearing coordinated colours, water conservation quizzes, meat-free menus and gardening activities came to a close, the school will continue the conversations inside and outside the classroom to weave sustainability into the various aspects of the school. Partnering across the globe with the INSEAD Operations and Campus Services team is a testament to the importance of stepping forward to incorporate sustainability where possible and making it everybody’s business.