IÉSEG students participate in the University Convention for Climate Change

In January 2022, the institutions of Lille Catholic University, including IÉSEG, signed the Grenoble Agreement. This agreement aims to help with structuring Higher Education and Research on the issues of socio-ecological transition. Committed with the European Metropolis of Lille to the zero-carbon 2050 objective, Lille Catholic University has proposed a special program – the University Convention for Climate – to learn and act around climate issues.

Several students but also professors and administrative teams of IÉSEG, committed to CSR, participated in this large-scale convention. We interviewed Maëlys GRASSET and Canelle PLATIAU, students in the Master cycle of the Grande École program, to assess their experience at the heart of this event.

What was the objective of this university climate convention and how did it go?

Maëlys & Canelle – The Convention took place over a period of 3 months, divided into 6 working sessions. In total, 145 people participated: students, but also professors and members of the administrative teams of the different institutions of Lille Catholic University. All of them had a very different level of knowledge in terms of ecology and sustainable development, and this is also what made the richness of this Convention.

The objective was twofold. First, to raise awareness and inform about climate issues thanks to speakers who trained us on different topics throughout the sessions. Second, during group workshops, to identify and implement concrete solutions in favor of the environment. By being part of this Convention, we were both “learners” and “doers”. The 145 participants were divided into groups of 5, and each group worked on one of the 7 proposed themes.

First, we had the opportunity to learn more about the issue of our theme (ours were “work and play” and “food”). Then, each group conducted a benchmark of what was already in place in higher education institutions on this theme and identified what could be improved. Finally, each group had to select two ideas to present to the rest of the Convention so that the best actions could be selected for concrete implementation.

What were the proposals made by your respective groups?

Maëlys – For the “Food” committee, we were interested in the problem of undernutrition and malnutrition among students. We therefore proposed to remove the snack machines from the campuses, as they do not help students to adopt a healthy diet.

Then, we were interested in setting up educational actions within all universities. The idea is that students can benefit from training on the challenges of a good diet and how to eat well. In some countries, especially in Asia, children learn at school, from a very young age, how to eat well, but this is not (anymore) the case in France. These short courses would be mandatory for all first year students.

Finally, we as focused on the offerings of university restaurants, proposing that they source organic, local, and seasonal foods, and that they reduce their choice of dishes to reduce waste and carbon footprint.

Canelle – For my part, in my group dedicated to “Work and Play,” we looked at the “Sustainable Development and Social Responsibility” label for higher education. To date, the institutions of the Catholic University of Lille do not yet have this label, although some of them, such as IÉSEG, are very committed and give considerable importance to CSR. We have therefore suggested that these institutions implement actions that will allow them to be audited in order to obtain this label.

We also mentioned responsible communication, which aims to guide the employees and students of an institution to act in a more responsible way. Of course, in the end, it is up to each institution to consider the actions proposed by the Convention and to choose those that it thinks are the most appropriate.

What is your conclusion from your participation in this Convention?

Maëlys & Canelle – Beyond the training we received, we particularly appreciated the meetings with the speakers, especially an employee of ADEME, the French agency for ecological transition, who presented the 4 scenarios proposed for the 2050 transition. Although we are very well informed on the subject of the ecological transition, we were not aware of these scenarios and we think that they should be more widely known. They have been a common thread throughout the Convention. The mayor of Lille Vauban and the vice-president of the European Metropolis of Lille were also present, proof of the importance of this Convention and its future results.

Humanly speaking, it was enriching to be able to meet the actors of the other institutions of the Catholic University of Lille. Indeed, in 5 years of study at IÉSEG, we had never had meetings with other entities of the Catholic University of Lille. It was therefore exciting to be able to work collectively with all these people.

This Convention gave us a lot of hope for the future. A second Convention will be set up next semester, so we are only at the beginning of the process and it is reassuring to know that this will grow over time. This has motivated us all the more to continue our positive actions.

What were your initial motivations for participating in this Convention?

Canelle I have always been sensitive to ecology and, like Maëlys, my thesis was on this subject, so it helped me to enrich it by bringing additional elements. Being in my last year of studies at IÉSEG, I also wanted to contribute to the project before leaving. I think that this Convention has allowed me to increase my knowledge in a field that I am aiming at for my professional future.

Maëlys – I agree with Canelle on her motivations. I would also add that many students went back to their hometown during the thesis period, while I stayed in Lille. So, the Convention helped me to maintain an active social life and to keep a direct contact with the School. I was able to meet people with very different profiles, which was very enriching.

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