9 Dec, 2022 - Global MBA, ESSEC Business School

We are currently experiencing a global environmental crisis. Environmental change has occurred at a scale never previously seen in human history as a result of rising global temperatures and record levels of biodiversity loss. Due to its potential to challenge conventional corporate practices and stop climate change, sustainability has recently gained a lot of attention. Sustainability is gaining importance for all businesses, in all sectors. Nearly all of the focus to this point has been on how businesses may increase consumer value while also keeping sustainability and carbon neutrality in mind. Every person, group, and institution in the world is now required to pause, consider the effects of their actions on the environment, and develop plans to lessen their impact, move toward net zero carbon emissions, and restore biodiversity. This process does not exempt ESSEC Business School. The goal of the "Sustainability for Common Good" roundtable was to enlighten the Global MBA students about the current and future sustainability activities being undertaken by the leading corporations. It highlights the numerous and diverse good efforts already under way, their benefits, accomplishments, and occasionally associated difficulties.

Keynote speakers/ roundtable guests

Valeria Musumeci- FAUME                                                        Hélène Gauche- L214
Mathieu Soulas- TotalEnergies                                              Telman Azarmahd- EDF

Moderated by Prof. Xavier Pavie, Professor at ESSEC Business School, the participants in the roundtable were Valeria Musumeci from FAUME, a second-hand clothes retail start up, Hélène Gauche from L214, an NGO fighting for animal rights, Mathieu Soulas and Telman Azarmahd from TotalEnergies and EDF respectively, multi-energy company. The organizing team consisted of Marie Claire Becker, Daniel Navarro, Sherley Vargas Isaac, Carlos Victorica, Shobhan Krishan Mishra, Tanisha Pandey, Archita Singh, Antaratara Ghosh, Charbel Gharios, Tania Rocha, Shreshthi Sankhe, Sanjana Thimmayya, and Xiaoying Yan.

Valeria Musumeci began the roundtable by presenting her views on the Sustainable Advantages of Buying Second hand Items. She introduced us to FAUME, a start-up, founded in 2019, offers a white label technological and logistical solution to fashion brands wishing to create their second-hand offer. FAUME supports dozens of brands in managing their second-hand offer. Isabel Marant, Aigle, Balzac Paris or The Kooples have, for example, already taken the plunge into the circular economy with FAUME. She briefly talked about the rising trends and importance of circular economies, and its role in promoting sustainability. The second-largest consumer of water in the world, the fashion business contributes 10% of all human carbon emissions. That represents more emissions than all foreign travel and sea transport put together. Additionally, 85% of all textiles end up in landfills every year. According to a 2017 assessment from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the fashion industry's portion of the carbon budget might increase to 26% by 2050 if it maintains its current course. Therefore, it is essential to encourage a shift to the circular economy, which is a more sustainable paradigm. A production and consumption paradigm known as the "circular economy" emphasizes sharing, renting, reusing, repairing, and recycling old goods for as long as possible. Unfortunately, a lot of individuals are unaware of the environmental harm caused by contemporary clothes producers. Those who do frequently decide to buy used clothing to cut down on waste, save our natural resources, and other things. Natural resources are used by manufacturers in their operations. Unfortunately, many of these resources cannot be renewed or do so slowly. The reduction of trash and pollution is one further benefit of buying used goods from a sustainable standpoint. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended. She places a strong focus on the necessity for people to ensure that companies won't need to use as much energy in their factories by reducing the need for additional apparel.

Telman Azarmahd talked about the EDF’s vision of sustainability, and what they’re doing today, tomorrow and in the coming years to help achieve Net Zero by 2050. He discussed the energy and climate change concerns as well. Fortunately, there is a single solution that may address both climate change and prevent future energy crises: use energy wisely and generate what is needed from non-fossil, low-carbon sources. Recent energy price hikes, which are a result of rising gas prices globally and the conflict in Ukraine, have a huge negative influence on the operating environment, making it difficult for customers to afford energy and putting heavy financial strain on energy suppliers. In order to ensure that energy is affordable and that regulation fosters a resilient, competitive energy market that benefits consumers, EDF is actively working with the Government and Ofgem to come up with solutions. EDF is making long-term investments in new, cost-effective, low-carbon energy options. He also emphasizes the necessity of the shift to a low-carbon economy, emphasizing that it must be secure, fair, and beneficial to individuals, groups of individuals, and the planet. He also discussed how EDF is pursuing Net Zero in a manner that is environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable by ensuring energy security without placing an undue burden on personal and commercial finances or the environment. As a result, they minimize the impact of their activities on the environment in order to create a cleaner, healthier, and more resilient environment that benefits both the economy and society.

Hélène Gauche from L214, a French non-profit organization for animal protection that centred its efforts on protecting animals used for consumption since they make up 99% of all animals used for human exploitation, encourages the participants to embrace a responsible purchasing behaviour, at the very least by reducing their consumption of such products and by refusing those originating from factory farming, and at the very best by doing without products from animal origin. By conducting surveys and airing videos—often referred to as "shock" videos—on the living circumstances of livestock on farms, as well as during their shipping and killing, L214 frequently frames itself as a whistle-blower. L214 promotes anti-speciesism and condemns both of these activities as well as fishing, which it views as cruel to animals. It encourages vegetarianism and calls for a shift in consumption patterns, particularly with regard to food, away from using more animal products. She also addressed the impact of meat consumption on the environment and human health, the views of various political groups and public figures about animal rights, and tips for greener meat consumption. In addition to the numerous advantages, cutting back on meat consumption is the single most important thing a person can do to protect the environment by lowering greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and soil erosion. The production of meat is connected, either directly or indirectly, to South America deforestation. Farmers frequently set a fire to clear the ground to make room for cattle grazing, which has recently become a threat to the survival of the Amazon rainforest. The flames cause significant carbon emissions. And a sizable number of CO2 sinks are destroyed through deforestation. Reduced meat consumption will also result in significant reductions in water and land use, as well as an increase in biodiversity. She discussed the significance of consuming little meat to lower the carbon footprint of food in order to protect the environment and animals while promoting the idea of sustainability.

Mathieu Soulas shared that TotalEnergies places sustainable development in all its dimensions at the heart of its strategy, projects and operations to contribute to people’s well-being and aims to be a benchmark for endorsement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. He addressed the company's goal to reinvent energy and emerge as a major actor in the energy transition, working with the community to achieve net zero emissions by the year 2050. He also discussed how TotalEnergies is doing its part to reduce carbon footprint emissions from nuclear reactors. Although the energy shift is already underway, the company is changing to offer real, long-lasting solutions to the converging problems of increased energy production and reduced emissions. TotalEnergies involves its employees in identifying the SDGs on which it can have the greatest impact, in connection with its ambition to reach carbon neutrality (net zero emissions) by 2050, in order to further its efforts in the sectors in which it can act with the greatest authority as an integrated multi-energy Company. He also stated how TotalEnergies has developed its corporate social responsibility (CSR) approach for carrying out its activities in order to help accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. The four pillars that form the foundation of TotalEnergies' CSR strategy are care for the environment, creating value for society, people's well-being, and climate and sustainable energy.

Although the area of work and the definition of sustainability for everyone was different, the intent to promote sustainability in their firms was same for all i.e., for the common good. Although each company has a different approach to promote sustainability and incorporate it into its business plan, all organizations use the same method or process to gauge their impact i.e., framework BS 8900 from the British Government. In summary, the three speakers asserted that “Sustainability” refers to the ability to meet current needs without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to do the same. We require social and economic resources in addition to natural resources. Sustainability is a blanket term – a “catch-all” for a company or organization’s efforts to do better. Nonetheless, the challenge remains: we must continuously improve on our efforts to support the principles of sustainability, and work towards the goal of net zero carbon emission. Some of this will be accomplished by achieving targeted objectives, such as our transition away from diesel fuel as a backup energy source and the carbon benefits of our waste reduction improvements due to our expanding fleet of Circular Centres. Overall, the roundtable was very interactive, and many participants were able to resolve their queries about sustainability and get the opportunity to know how the corporations are working against carbon emissions. The roundtable ended with a cocktail and a light discussion about sustainability and its principles.

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