The second cross-campus INSEAD Earth Week engaged students and advanced the conversation about the future of our planet
In April 2023, students on INSEAD campuses in Asia and Europe had an unprecedented opportunity to better understand business solutions to environmental and sustainability challenges. Earth Week 2023 launched as a cross-campus event featuring activities and conversations to share knowledge and encourage action. From thought leadership to practical advice and real-world examples of climate solutions, Earth Week 2023 raised awareness in the INSEAD community of the need to protect our planet.
Campus Services joined as co-organizer of Earth Week and sponsored a climate solution with Impact Eating. In collaboration with the supplier Sodexo, specific labelling on carbon intensity was added to dishes. This allowed faculty, students, staff and anyone eating on-campus to make informed choices regarding what they eat. A quiz was also rolled out across campuses to provide sustainability insights and improve knowledge levels.
At Earth Week 2023, leading thinkers and experts joined for sessions ranging from workshops on climate science and responsible cooking to discussions at the intersection of climate change and economics. Much of these focused on business as a leader in sustainability solutions.
New Models Needed
Earth Week 2023 kicked off with a discussion on reforming capitalism and environmental justice led by Gael Giraud, Chief Economist at the Agence Française de Développement. Giraud believes there is need for fundamental reform of capitalism, given current economic, social and environmental challenges. This talk focused on the role of business in the sustainability transition and aligning corporate interests with environmental and social goals rather than pursuing profit at all costs.
Giraud emphasized the need for bold leadership and state support through incentives, regulations and investments. No one group can transform the current system, so governments and business must collaborate, while engaging with civil society and other stakeholders. Adopting common goals can protect the common resources that provide a sustainable and equitable foundation for both environmental stewardship and economic development.
Future in Focus
On this theme, Earth Week featured an event with Business Schools for Climate Leadership (BS4CL), a research and thought leadership initiative actively addressing the climate challenge. Organised around the BS4CL toolkit, the session was an opportunity for different business schools to come together and share knowledge. Promoting the toolkit helps business leaders formulate key questions and effectively address environmental challenges with business solutions.
Chaired by toolkit co-author and Executive Director of the Hoffmann Institute for Business and Society, Katell Le Goulven, the session brought together Concepcion Galdon from IE, Daniel Halbheer from HEC Paris and Knut Haanaes from IMD. The panel reflected on themes such as climate change and technology, circular economy models and innovation and transformation in the face of crisis. A Q&A highlighted the role and responsibilities of business schools and graduates as an enabling force for climate action.
Pursuing Purpose in a Profession
For students looking for a career with purpose, Earth Week 2023 convened a climate careers session. Panellists from the INSEAD alumni community from different organizations with distinct approaches to climate action shared insights from working in the sustainability space. These are pioneers charting their own course forward with independent reading and learning, and they were eager to share how to go beyond the usual job search to pursue a profession with purpose. Key takeaways emerged during the discourse:
- There are diverse areas of climate change work – Climate enthusiasts should look for opportunities close to their interests and experience
- Passion for sustainability and eagerness to learn are valued more than experience – The learning curve is steep and the community is growing together
- Leverage sustainability job boards and online communities like LinkedIn – Making connections and pursuing one opportunity can often open doors to many more
Walking the Talk
Earth Week 2023 also featured sessions that show how INSEAD is walking the talk on sustainability and protecting the planet. Climate Fresque Workshops were held on the Europe Campus and Asia Campus. Based on the latest IPCC science, these workshops teach the fundamental science behind climate change through gamification. The INSEAD Earth Week sessions were designed to help business students and staff understand the climate crisis challenges they may face in their careers.
Talks were given on each campus to share what these challenges look like for INSEAD business operations. In Europe, Chief Operating Officer Attila Cselotei shared insights from the school’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions, while James Middleditch, Director for Operations and Campus Services, shared efforts by the Asia Campus. These sessions showcased how INSEAD is leading on sustainability and climate action while providing real-world insights for Earth Week attendees.
A Look Ahead
The numerous speakers invited to Earth Week 2023 all implored students to be critical thinkers and look for ways to protect the planet as leaders in their companies, communities and countries. To transform growth and prosper on a stable planet, we must question the status quo, think outside the box and take risks in pursuit of sustainability.
Earth Week 2023 underscored how this approach can deliver value to business and society. By connecting with thought leaders, understanding the challenges and seeing a practical path to work in the sustainability space, the INSEAD community is now better equipped to lead in the sustainability transformation.
Earth Week 2023 was organized by the Hoffmann Global Institute For Business and Society with INSEAD Human Resources, Operations and Campus Services and the Career Development Centre, as well as student clubs. Thank you to all who collaborated to make this Week a success. See you next year!
**Special thanks to Sophie Drouin, Aisyah Rachmawati, Rebecca Chandler, Can Aydogan and Mayank Kapadia for their inputs**