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The Wake-up Call on the environment, A Student Manifesto launched in septembre 2018 found a huge echo throughout the student community, in a context of rising engagement to face the environmental urgency. To jump from awareness to actual commitment, we now want to draw from our different experiences some leverages to make our society evolve.

This text is presenting the movement Wake-up Call on the environment, the approaches we offer to turn words into action, and in a deeper sight, the vision of the society we crave for.

1 History and Context

Since september of 2018, 30 000 students from 400 higher learning institutions signed the Wake-up Call on the environement, a student manifesto. These students express their frustration in front of the gap between the depth of the environmental challenge ahead of us and the lack of pledge actions to face it. They thus call out the entire society to take the adequate measures much needed.

The success of the manifesto opened a dialogue space bewteen political and economic leaders, the associative world and students. So that this initiatives keeps moving forward, we, students at the initiative of the manifesto, gathered in a collective that wishes to make the voices and opinions of the signatories heard as far as possible.

We focused on two main subjects : higher education, and employment, two fields in which we, students and recent graduates, are key players and can therefore directly act on.

« As citizens, as consumers, as workers, we claim in this manifesto our will to change an economic system in which we don’t believe anymore. »

Higher education

Environmental subjects are still peripheral in higher education, confined in optional courses or specializations. The ecological emergency will though impact and structure every single field of activity. How can we built a society compatible with the limits of our planet if we do not get any training on the subject ? How can companies start their transformations with staff unaware of the incomming issues ? We delivered this message to the ministries and the higher education institutions, so that environmental challenges will be incorporated in every academic curriculum.

The experience we got from those meetings and from collaborating with other students organizations lead to the conception of those tools, created to to help students to involve their school to integrate ecological issues to their formations.

Employment

The second strong message of the signatories of the manifesto is the will to chose their future employer depending on environmental criterias. This is why we met those employers to understand their standpoint and present them our expectations. During individual conversations or speeches during events, we met senior executives of several dozen of companies, mainly Sustainable Development Directors and CEOs. Those interviews, with the help of experts, gave us keys to make a difference between the companies that actively try to transform their economic model and companies that feel like communication plan with no ambition is good enough.

« In front of a challenge that big, we are conscient that individual commitment, thought necessary, won’t be enough. Indeed, what is the use to go around biking when working for a company whose activity contributes to a fastest climate change or to the waste of resources ? »

2 What to do now ?

For all those that recognize themselves in the words of the Manifesto and wish to turn speeches into actions, we developped and gathered on this website tools to help you reconciliate your academic and professional lives with your personal convictions.

Wake up your school

Students are everyday more numerous to mobilize themselves so that causes, consequences and potential solutions to the environmental crises are taught in higher education. We are thus lauching an online platform developed in partnership with Together for Earth, to help those that want to make this goal a reality. This site gathers and puts in contact students that get involved in their schools to transform their education environment, by raising the awareness of their professors to environmental issues, organizing events, negociating with their administration, ect.. Our goal is to create a web between those initiatives and to share the resources and the experiences that might be useful for other students.

Wake up your employer

«  We want to use the leverage we have as students by turning ouselves towards the employers we deem to be in agreement with the grievances we claim in this Manifesto. »

Our meetings were a confirmation of what we thought : employers give a lot of care about their attractiveness towards us, new generations. To make the best use of this powerful leverage, it seems important to clearly state and explain the criterias that will have an impact on our professional choices.

But in practice, it is not that simple to evaluate and juge the environmental strategies of those employers, neither is it to know wheither it is genuine. We thus offer a few keys to comprehend those strategies, that you might want to keep in mind when applying to a company :

  • the reading grid to help you evaluate the level of commitment of a company on environmental issues and the relevance of its strategy.
  • the answers from some big companies to our questions about their environmental policies, to read carefully – and with our anti-greenwashing manual at your fingertips.
  • other tools such as the and interview manual the How to commit in your company ?

So that employers, today and in the future, realize how necessary it is to put themselves in question and to act on it, we want every student and young active to be able to send a strong message. By creating our own Wake-up call on the environment, and sharing it to our networks, wheither social, professionnal or personal, we can make our beliefs, our commitment and our expectations visible.

Mobilizing other leverages

« As citizens, as consumers, as workers, we claim in this manifesto our will to change an economic system in which we don’t believe anymore. We are conscient that change will imply a transformation of our lifestyle, which is necessary.  »

Schools, universities and employers will only be able to commit to the level they need to if they are supported by the entire society, starting with financial and political powers, but also us, citizens. The scale of the challenges we are facing requeries every bit of energy we have, which is why we gathered sources to help you to be informed and act on other leverages, as students, citizens and consummers.

3 What world do we want ?

The crisis we are facing leads us to wonder about the kind of society we want to build and live in. As shows the manifesto, the endless quest for a perpetual GDP growth is part of a system completely disconnected from the planet’s limitations. It will be a route to the final destruction of the ecosystems we rely on, and pushes our society to increase its consumption at a time where we are about to hit the wall. Our world confuses overconsumption with happiness, multiplication of choices with liberty, abundance with comfort – this very same comfort that will soon enough be threatened by the risk our lifestyle represents for the environment. Wealth is not measured by our ability to produce and buy. On the opposite, slowing down is a necessary step to make us rediscover other forms of happiness not relying on the constant solicitation we see in today’s society. As more and more professionals and students feel like their life lacks meaning, we strongly feel the limits of our system, that seeks a purely quantitative growth at the expense of balance and relationships.

The intensive research for remedes to environmental issues brings up the question of technological innovation. Even though it has a major role to play in solving the crisis, we can’t bet our future on the invention of disruptive technology whose development is still unsure. Technological efficiency is confined by physical and material limitations, and won’t be able to meet the needs of an never ending growth. Innovation is already subjected to safety and profit. It now has to grow out of these constraints to be compatible with sustainability and sobriety.

To face the consequences of the environmental crisis, we also need to think about inequalities to find coherent solutions. Addressing the consequences of environmental crises and making the necessary efforts to address their causes requires cohesion that cannot be maintained without a thorough reflection on the issue of inequalities. The crisis touches unevenly members of the society, as it touches unevenly geographical areas. Poor people will be the first one to suffer from it. The ecological transition will only be consistent if it is supportive : efforts must be shared but different depending on personal situation. To put it in a nutshell : wealthier individuals must commit earlier, faster and stronger than others, which is valid both within a country and on a global scale.

We thus reaffirm in 2019 our will to get out of our comfort zone to achieve a new society, compatible with our expectations and hopes for the future. By gathering our time and energy, we want to prompt citizens and associations, but also public powers and companies to get involved into this transformation leading to a trully sustainable society.

Signing a text is not enough : it it now our duty to turn those words into action. It is time to wake up : our website offers different ways to get involved as students or young workers, that need to be conducted together and that you can easily discover through our links. Stroll around the website, read what you are interested in, and show your professional environment your commitment and the strength of your determination using this tool to share our message on Linkedin. If we are numerous enough to do it, and we will, we will have an impact.

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