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HEC Paris puts climate change at the forefront with “The 2°C Challenge, Climate is our Business” Conference

On October 1st 2015, HEC Paris invited its entire community to be an actor of climate change, and to discuss business solutions to fight global warming.

2 degree challlenge hec paris climate


The event brought together the entire HEC Paris community: students, professors, administrative staff, alumni, the Foundation, companies and other partner organizations—to raise awareness on climate change.
The event featured high-level conferences with business leaders and experts, including a roundtable which featured Bertrand Badré (CFO World Bank Group, H89), Emmanuel Faber (CEO Danone, H86)  Bruno Lafont (Co-Chairman Lafarge-Holcim, H77) and Tristan Lecomte (President & Founder PUR Projet, H96) ; There was also six workshops on specific topics such as the impact of mass consumption, energy transition, and the carbon market; and a start-up Forum which gathered 21 innovative startups taking part to pitching sessions.

The first keynote speaker Jeremy Rifkin shared his inspiring insights on the Third Industrial Revolution and a Zero Marginal Cost Society.

The Conference “The 2°C Challenge, Climate is our Business” was initiated by HEC Paris Society & Organizations Center (SnO) chaired by Rodolphe Durand (H.93, D.97) and Bénédicte Faivre-Tavignot (H.85). Co-organized with the HEC Alumni association, it involved many students from the very beginning.

An interview with an HEC student of the MSc in Sustainability and Social Innovation as well as an alumnus who were involved in the event. 

Shrikar Singh

MSc Sustainability and Social Innovation (SASI), Class of 2016
From Birla Institute of Technology and Science-Pilani
Previous work at Shell

It has been an invaluable learning experience because we gained perspectives from both developed and developing societies seeking to limit the effects of climate change.

Professional Experience

After graduating from marine engineering back in 2012, I started to work for Shell for a period of 6 months. I realized pretty quickly that this type of work wasn’t suited to me and I found work in the renewable sector in India where I worked for 2 years. I am fascinated by the transition evident in developing countries, which is my rationale behind choosing to study a Master in Sustainability and Social Innovation (SASI) at HEC Paris.

Event Planning

Organizing the event was challenging as well as extremely rewarding. We had to mobilize the entire HEC community as well as spread awareness of the event and the key issues related to climate change. At the very beginning of planning, we all got together to discuss how we feel about climate change, and how we think we can reduce its impact on future generations. Students from both the SASI and MBA programs were responsible for communicating with the startups from varying industries.

Role in HEC4Climate

Having only just began my postgraduate studies, I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to help organize an event to spread awareness about the COP21 conference. On the day, I was directly involved in the energy transition workshop where we had speakers from Total energy, WWF Foundation and our own professor Jean-Michel Gauthier who is Deloitte’s Chief Economist Officer for Energy & Resources.

Post-event Reflection

The whole event was extremely successful and I was very involved with my classmates and the MBA student community with the Net Impact Club. It has been an invaluable learning experience because we gained perspectives from both developed and developing societies seeking to limit the effects of climate change. Presentations covered a wide range of topics such as mass consumption, energy transition and sustainable cities. We also had the chance to personally engage with the speakers and ask them specific questions.

Renaud Le Chatelier - Communication and Marketing Director at EcoAct

MS Management du Développement Durable (now MSc Sustainability and Social Innovation), Class of 2005
Previous work experience at NeoEco and Tinkuy   

Climate risk and climate opportunity is inherently linked to innovation and companies need to take it into account.

Previous Experience

Upon completion of my Specialized Master, I created my first business called NeoEco which aimed to sensitize people to the importance of sustainable development in companies. After a couple of years, I sold this company so that I could invest time in the creation of another new business called Tinkuy that I set up with some friends who sought to establish a network where companies could share their solutions for sustainable development. Currently, although I still work for Tinkuy as a strategic advisor, I work full time for EcoAct. Initially at EcoAct, I started as a business developer but I’ve been involved with communications and marketing for a year now, covering both internal communications, and external communications such as the COP21 taking place in December. EcoAct is one of the worldwide leaders in climatic strategy, however, there is no one size fits all solution to climate change, and solutions depend highly on each particular business.

The Importance of Awareness

We must inform businesses on the cost of inaction, with regard to climate change, which will be around €5,500BN. Climate risk and climate opportunity is inherently linked to innovation and companies need to take it into account urgently. We must therefore familiarize ourselves with the business and its added value and we can then help them to redefine their business practices in a sustainable way.


COP21 is incredibly important for HEC Paris students because they will see a significant global commitment from public figures who, this time around, really expect concrete solutions to climate change. Students will also be interested in the creation of potential jobs. With regards to my role in the event, I was a member of the startup jury. I was really impressed by the innovative ideas the startups had come up with.

Learn more about the program

MSc Sustainability and Social Innovation