Thank-you from all of us…

WBCSD Students
Left to Right: Ferdinand, Veronika, Miriam, Jan-Oliver, Victoria, Xiaoyu, Alexia and Celia.

 

We are writing to express our sincerest gratitude for everyone who supported our trip to Paris (see list below), without your support and/or sponsorship this trip would not have happened.

Our thanks go to:

  • The Pentland Centre – Professor Gail Whiteman
  • WBCSD Mr Peter Bakker, Mr Peter White, Dr Rodney Irwin, Ms Marie Loriot,  Ms Kija Kimmer, Ms Nicole Berthier
  • Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) – Professor Angus Laing & Professor John O’Hanlon
  • The LUMS Department of Organisation, Work and Technology – Professor Theo Vurdubaksis & Dr Alison Stowell
  • LUMS Careers & Employability Team – Mrs Louise Briggs & Mr Rory Daly
  • The Centre for the Study of Technology and Organisation – Dr Martin Brigham.
  • LUMS Alumni team – Ms Maggie Wild, Miss Charlotte Lund & Ms Libby Packham
  • Lancaster University Funds Office – Miss Laura Slater
  • Lancaster University Student Union – Mr Will Hedley & Mr Joe Bourne
  • Everyone who sponsored us via our crowdfunding initiative.

We had an amazing time and cannot quite believe we attended the largest annual World Business Council for Sustainable Development meetings to date, where there were 800 delegates and over 100 CEO’s registered.  The trip to Paris was an incredible learning opportunity for all of us to hear first-hand Industry Leaders views on climate change, plans of action to address such challenges and to be able to speak with some of them in person.  We were fortunate enough to hear plenaries from Paul Polman the Chairman of the WBCSD and CEO of Unilever, Peter Bakker WBCSD CEO,  the Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore and United Nations Secretary Ban Ki-Moon plus many others.  We kept blogs whilst in Paris and Alexia created a video diary of our time away if you would like to find out more information on our trip.

To finish our blog we would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and leave you to read the personal messages of thanks from each of us,  and what this experience has meant.

 

As an international undergraduate student, I just felt extremely pleased and delightful that I got this opportunity to attend such an impressive and grand event. Thank you all for offering us this chance and supporting our amazing trip. We learnt, inspired, criticised and amused at every moment during the five day trip. It was an extremely memorable and precious trip for everyone, and undeniably the first step of entering a brand new stage of my life and career. Finally, merry Christmas to everyone and looking forward to see you in the future!

Kind regards, Xiaoyu Chen (BA Management & Organization HRM)

 

Attending the council meeting of the WBCSD was an unique opportunity for me: Not only was it very inspirational and impressive to be part of a gathering of the most influential and forward-thinking people in business from all over the world, but it also formed my vision about my individual role that I might have in this in the future. For me it is very important how we reflect on what we have heard and witnessed during our time in Paris and turn it into action. However I believe that it could not have been more inspirational and impulsive. I am very grateful for everyone who made this experience happen.

Kind regards, Jan-Oliver Distler (BBA European Management)

 

Thank you so much to everyone who made this trip possible for us. Being able to hear industry leaders discuss real action and engage in sustainable practices -and the most effective way to implement them- has been an immensely valuable experience. I believe I speak all of our minds when saying that we feel as inspired as ever to make a change in the business world.

Kind regards Celia Iordache (BBA European Management)

 

Thanks for the great opportunity to be a part of this inspiring event and therefore the unique chance to get insight into all the work that is done and need to be done to safe the future of our planet.

Kind regards, Miriam Luft (BBA European Management)

 

I want to thank you all very much for giving me the possibility of living this memorable experience that I definitely fully appreciated. Taking part in such an important Business event encouraged me to think even more seriously about my future and my career. One day, I might be there in front of everybody showing my sustainable strategy and trying to change the rules of the game. All the impressive speeches coming from brilliant speakers were absolutely motivating, and at the end of the day inspiration is what really matters. Opportunities are already outside there, we just need business to be strongly encouraged to think more deeply about the Sustainable Development Goals. This Council Meeting was brilliant in trying to do this. Altogether, businesses, governments and communities, can really make a difference. As Ban Ki-moon said, “the choice is ours”.

Kind regards, Alexia Petricu (BBA European Management)

 

“Drawing boundaries differently will enable change”. This quote came up in connection with the topic of how collaboration will accelerate climate change solutions.

For me it also had second meaning. The opportunity to attend the World Business Council of Sustainable Development meeting was a redefinition of my boundaries, it gave me access to an event that I never envisioned myself being part of. It expanded and added on to my thoughts on environmental issues and it broadened my vision of the role of business as well as my own role in society. And for that I am forever thankful. I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to have my boundaries drawn differently.

Kind regards Ferdinand Weiler (BBA European Management)

 

 

A huge thank you for making this amazing trip to the WBCSD Meeting possible! It was such a unique experience and opportunity for me as a student to see how business approaches sustainability and to gain first hand insights in the work of the WBCSD and its projects. Those diverse impressions definitely raised my awareness for sustainable management and deepened my understanding of its implementation.

Kind regards, Veronika Weisner (BBA European Management)

 

Thank you for taking a chance on a group of students to be able to attend such a meeting. To be surrounded by business executives was inspiring and reminded me why I am at university and what I  hope to achieve with my career.

Kind regards, Victoria Wood (BA in Law and Business HRM)

 

 

 

WBCSD Sustainability Game
Left to Right: Joe, Ferdinand, Veronika, Jan-Oliver, Miriam, Alison, Victoria, Alexia, Xiaoyu and Celia.

Driving home for Christmas

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“Time flies by” – especially when you enjoy your time. So for us the time at the WBCSD summit in Paris 2015 flew by and after four days at the Mariott Hotel we made our way back to the rain washed Lancaster. We were all looking back smiling but with tears in our eyes – it was just a short but very intense time in Paris where we met a lot of new people we would like to meet again. Everyone of us had different expectations and gained different experiences but each of us definitely has some unique invaluable memories to take home when we’re driving home to our  home countries.

On our last day we all got a special surprise from the WBCSD for our help during the past days, what we really did not expect as we were the ones to be thankful for the experience we could gain. It was great to realise that even CEOs and leaders of international companies were people like you and me and were happy to talk to students like us. We had the chance to listen to motivating speeches from great people like Al Gore and H.E. Ban ki-moon and could get an insight into the work that is done to turn Vision 2050 into Action 2020.

After those great, exciting days we’re now heading home for Christmas, filled with motivation engagement and expectations, ready to change tomorrow!

Action now! – But what is our driving power? By Jan-Oliver Distler

Hello everyone,

Still being highly inspired by the opportunity we have been given tonight, at the end of day two at the council meeting of the WBCSD, to watch the new documentary of Luc Jacquet ‘Ice and the sky’ about the work of Claude Lorius, I will write a few words about the thoughts that had been buzzing in my head today. (Claude Lorius was the first scientist to be concerned about climate change and was only twenty-three years old when he went on his first Antarctic expedition. I am twenty-two years old.)

Parts of our preparation for this trip to the council meeting of the WBCSD involved researching Climate Change itself. I found it particular interesting to gain a greater insight into cases where Climate Change is actually having a devastating impact on the lives of people today. For me, that is one of the main motivations and driving powers to act on this issue immediately. It is about the people that are living in this world right now and about enabling the future generations to enjoy the resources and possibilities of this planet as we do. It is about preventing extreme weather events, that often hit the very poorest on this planet and it is about ensuring people do not have to flee their homes, because they don’t have access to water and food due to rising temperatures. Sustainability for me is about humanity, justice and selflessness in an universal sense.

It might not be surprising when I get a little frustrated and uncomfortable, yes even upset, when I reflect the last two days mainly hearing that we have to act on climate change, because it is creating new business opportunities and new markets for organisations. Don’t get me wrong, I do realise I am currently attending the World BUSINESS Council for Sustainable Development, I do understand what is meant by this argument and why it has its eligibility, however I ask myself: Would businesses not act on climate change if it would not create these new opportunities and more growth? There are several environmental and sustainability researchers that argue, that exactly these new business opportunities and markets, even our whole economic system that depends on growth, are the main limitations to this solution.

However, let’s look at it from a different point of view. Today I overheard the question: ‘Why would a company invest in a green bond, if there is no financial benefit from doing so?’ As a business student myself, I don’t feel like I can answer this question in a truly satisfying way. Of course I could answer it for myself, still I feel that it is not the answer that functions in a free economic system, that we live in and that we owe a lot. I believe that acting on climate change does need large investments, it does need strong leadership by the business sector and it does need new technologies.

I really hope it is true that all these actions will create more qualitative growth and new market opportunities in order to actually achieve the vision of people living on our planet within its natural boundaries. However should we realize that economic growth is actually part of the problem, I would like to believe we would act anyway. For the sake of humanity and the passion that I share with Claude Lorius about the planet we live on.

The Call to Action: WBCSD Council Meeting Officially Commences

5am wake up. 17 hour day. Plenary sessions. Cluster Groups. Great Food. Al Gore. Ban Ki-Moon. Panel discussions. Unexpected poem.

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Today has felt like 3 days in one there has been so much happening. From arrival to departure at the conference centre there was always something to do or someone to talk to. The calibre of people we have been surrounded with all day is just amazing, and to some extent makes me feel like I don’t know much at all, but then I remember they are people just like me (with some more business experience though). For me it isn’t about who they are and that they may be an important CEO. For me it is all about what they do, what they are using their position for and what they are implementing in their company to move towards a low-carbon future. This was definitely a theme that was highlighted throughout every event today. From a few hundred listening to one guest speaker, or a handful having cluster group discussions. The people we were surrounded by want to make a difference, they want to use their power in the position they hold in their company to change the world. And it also became clear that these executives didn’t want any more talk, they want action and tangible solutions that their businesses can be implementing. These were both emphasised by key note speakers Al Gore and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, as well as all of the panel discussions that were run in the morning. And to make this happen the key solution was collaboration, particularly between private and public sectors. The solution was made clear that business need to do what they can to support the government, and that the government need to do what they can to support business, in achieving a low-carbon society.

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Day 3 should hold some even more exciting moments and themes of sustainability and the move to a low-carbon world as we are able to observe the smaller group discussions. So keep your eye out for the next exciting update!

#EarthToParis #NowNotTomorrow #ClimateAction #WBCSD

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Written by: Victoria Wood

#EarthToParis: Lancaster Catastrophe

Saturday, 5th of December

It’s 7am in the morning and our train is meant to depart in 38 minutes. However, a few minutes later the speaker makes the announcement: all trains coming from the North have been delayed due to severe weather conditions. Every minute that passes, the train delays even further. Luckily, we still manage to get the train that takes us to Euston station in London in time, and we say luckily because at around midday we find out that all trains going southwards have been cancelled.

Sunday, 6th of December

“About 55,000 homes around Lancaster are without power and could be cut off for days after an electricity substation was flooded during Storm Desmond.” The BBC website depicts the catastrophe in Lancaster. As we go on social media, we’re shocked to see the pictures posted by all our friends back in Lancaster showing flooded homes and being evacuated. Shortly after, we receive an email stating that the University has called off all classes, exams and deadlines, and suggesting those able to leave to do so.

Marco Petagna, a senior forecaster at the Met Office, said parts of Cumbria and Lancashire have been hit with more than a month’s worth of rain in just 24 hours.

That’s it. Our society is built to function within a stable system, but 24 hours were enough for unpredictable Mother Nature to change the lives of more than 55,000 families. Nature cannot be tamed. Nature doesn’t follow our rules – we need to follow hers.

After hearing news like this, the need for change becomes imperative. The WBSCD provides a platform for discussion -and action– to align the industry’s objectives with the planet resources. The meeting in Paris has increased awareness on climate change around the globe but it now needs to live up to the expectations. The recent episode in Lancaster might be a warning – how many more do we need?!

 

From Paris, we send our biggest support to Lancaster University and to everyone that has been affected by this disaster.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-lancashire-35020049

 

Flooding in Lancaster city centreWritten by Celia Iordache and Veronika Wiesber on behalf of the LUMS students in Paris.