Lancaster University students have visited Paris to take part in a high-level environmental business event held to coincide with global climate negotiations.
A team of eight students were taken to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) by Professor Gail Whiteman, the Director of the Pentland Centre and part-time Professor in Residence for the WBCSD after winning a competition.
The WBCSD is a CEO-led organisation aimed at galvanising the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment.
The students listened to keynote speeches from former US Vice President Al Gore and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and rubbed shoulders with around 100 CEOs from leading global companies such as Unilever, BT, Siemens, Toyota and Price Waterhouse Cooper.
Victoria Wood, who studies Law at Lancaster University, said: “The calibre of people we have been surrounded with is just amazing. 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 use their position for and what they are implementing in their company to move towards a low-carbon future.”
Xiaoyu Chen, who is studying Organisation and Management HRM at Lancaster, said: “This experience means I can connect my knowledge with practice, listening to different international ideas and cultures and collect first-hand information from CEOs of big companies.”
“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,” said Celia Iordache, who is studying European Management.
The students that attended the event over five days were Alexia Petricu, Celia Iordache, Ferdinand Weiler, Jan-Oliver Distler, Miriam Luft, Veronika Wiesner, Victoria Wood and Xiaoyu Chen. They all contributed to a blog about their experiences. This can be read by visiting https://lancasteruniatcop21.wordpress.com/
They had won a competition attached to the Organisation, Work and Technology course: ‘Management and the Natural Environment’ which is convened by Dr Alison Stowell from Lancaster University Management School.
Dr Stowell, who organised the experience and accompanied the students, said: “We are always looking for ways to educate and inspire our students, as potentially our future is in their hands. This trip enabled our students to hear first-hand the views of experts from industry, thereby witnessing the application of theoretical ideas into a ‘real life’ context. From speaking to the students the trip has been a life changing experience that will shape their lives to come and the outcomes of the event will shape ours.”
The trip was linked to the students’ coursework where they are studying the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s policy vision for 2050.