With A Forward-Looking Strategic Plan, France’s EDHEC Cements Focus On Climate & Sustainability

EDHEC Dean Emmanuel Métais Wants To Lead On Climate And Impact

EDHEC’s campus in Nice, France. Courtesy photo

In February 2023, dean Emmanuel Métais told Poets&Quants that he wanted EDHEC Business School to lead on both climate and impact. Today, the French business school unveiled a new strategic plan that overwhelmingly supports that vision.

The plan, Generations 2050, is backed by €270 million of pledged investments. These include €112 million for campus renovations and expansions, €21 million to expand sustainable entrepreneurship, €40 million for green finance efforts, and €20 million to the creation of EDHEC AI. The plan also pledges to hire 100 more professors and researchers, bringing its total number up to 270.

“Reinventing business models for the common good and championing sustainable finance will define our legacy for future generations,” Métais says.

Emmanuel Métais, dean of EDHEC Business School

“This new strategic plan, which represents a revolutionary new take on our school’s strategy, is dedicated to accelerating these transformations through impact-driven research, excellence in education, and the commitment of tens of thousands of EDHEC alumni around the globe.”

A PLAN FOR THE NEXT 25 YEARS

EDHEC Business School welcomes about 9,500 students per year in undergraduate, graduate and executive programs. While about a third of them are French, students come from about 110 nationalities, including many from the United States. Its three main campuses are in Lille in the North of France, in Nice on the French Riviera, and in Paris. It also has research campuses in London and Singapore, as well as 50,000 alumni around the world.

Generations 2050 builds upon EDHEC’s already ambitious 20-25 Strategic Plan launched in March 2020 which firmly planted the school’s flag on sustainability and impact.

The new plan outlines the school’s actions through 2028 with an eye to the year 2050 – a milestone for both the planet and EDHEC itself. 2050 is the target year set by many governments, scientists, and organizations to reach net-zero carbon emissions or risk grave climate consequences. 2050 is also the year that babies born in the next four years will come to and graduate from EDHEC.

Generations 2050 is built around three pillars: Promoting net positive business practices, empowering students to drive transformation, and advancing climate finance.

NET POSITIVE BUSINESS: EDHEC wants to transform the business models that arguably got us into the climate crisis into the models that will get us out. That means creating models that are net positive and not merely net zero. The plan pledges €21 million over the next four years to enhance its sustainable entrepreneurship initiatives and establish a Centre for Net Positive Business led by Professor René Rohrbeck.

The center will first focus on decarbonizing the construction sector — which accounts for almost 26% of greenhouse emissions — and improving access to nutritious food for people around the globe.

The pledge is an expansion of EDHEC’s existing sustainable entrepreneurship efforts. This includes a €40 million investment fund, called Generations Powered by EDHEC, for socially and environmentally responsible startups as well as research and educational programs led by its Centre for Responsible Entrepreneurship. In 2023, it introduced the Responsible by Design (RED) methodology, embedding ethical considerations from the start within startups and new ventures. More than 1,000 startups across Europe have adopted the methodology.

ADVANCING CLIMATE SCIENCE: EDHEC is also doubling down on its previous commitment to climate finance in the new plan, investing €41 million to the topic. It will create a Climate Finance School, incorporate climate finance into core courses of all degree programs, and recruit new professors and researchers along with experts from industry, regulators, and nonprofits.

EDHEC’s the Jean Arnault Campus for Entrepreneurship.

In fall 2022, EDHEC transformed its Risk Institute into the EDHEC-Risk Climate Impact Institute (ERCII) reflecting its commitment to sustainability generally and climate specifically. Scientific Portfolio, a FinTech company helping investors and decision makers analyze and anticipate climate impacts, was incubated at EDHEC and is example of the school’s entrepreneurial approach to applied research.

EMPOWERING TO TRANSFORM: This fall, EDHEC will launch Transformative Journey, a learning pathway focused on training leaders in economic, social and environmental transformations. Courses in the pathway will represent at least 20% of credits needed to graduate from any EDHEC degree program. It is also rolling out innovative teaching methods and personalized learning pathways through EDHEC Online, its digital learning platform, expected to double in size by 2028.

The plan further dedicates €20 million to the launch of EDHEC AI, an initiative to hasten the adoption of AI in the classroom as well as in the office. This includes the development of cutting-edge AI and management science courses that will teach students to lead AI-driven changes in the workplace. A new master’s track, “Data Science and AI for Business,” will launch in September.

By 2028, all of EDHEC’s student clubs will be certified (or working to become certified) as Citizen Associations meaning they meet specific criteria in ethics and governance as well as social and environmental impact.

CAMPUS RENOVATIONS

EDHEC will also spend €112 million to modernize, expand and renovate its campuses in Lille, Nice, Paris, London, and Singapore.

Its main campus in Lille, home to the Jean Arnault Campus for Entrepreneurship, will be reimagined to highlight its natural surroundings and historic buildings. It will also get a new student center named the Agora – Greek for “meeting place” – to house the library, dining facilities, and a completely sustainable amphitheater.

The Nice campus, set against the scenic backdrop of the Promenade des Anglais, will get an extra 7,000 square meters of learning and research space.

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