28 April 2020

INSEAD: Tackling Environmental Challenges by Harnessing the Power of the School’s Global Community

What can bring together more than 2,300 people across 90 countries? Three things: the fellowship of INSEAD, an appreciation of environmental challenges, and more specifically the elimination of single-use plastic!

In January 2020, INSEAD, a UNAI member institution with campuses in France, Singapore, Abu-Dhabi and San-Francisco, conducted the first INSEAD Community Impact Challenge. In collaboration with the Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society and the INSEAD Alumni Association (IAA), this alumni-led global challenge called on our community to reduce or eliminate single-use plastic items for 28 days.

The Challenge aimed to bring together members of the INSEAD community for a positive global impact by tackling three of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production, SDG11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, and SDG14: Life Below Water – issues that are becoming more pressing, particularly given the current global instability.

The challenge garnered significant enthusiasm and engagement, with 2,340 INSEAD participants from more than 90 countries taking part. Together, they reduced their annual consumption of plastics and that of their network by 4,500kg per year, or 3.7kg per person. Weight reduction was largely in three categories – plastic bags, plastic bottles and wrappers.

Participating in the challenge also created a noticeable shift in mindset and behaviours, with 73% of people becoming more aware of ecological issues and a whopping 98% making lasting changes to their habits. A total of 93% of the participants have indicated interest in participating in the next challenge. Through their networks, members of the INSEAD community reached an additional 180,000 people and the challenge increased participants’ awareness about other environmental issues that affect our world.

We acknowledge that Covid-19 has caused many changes in our lives, and that previously achieved reductions in single-use plastic consumption may have fallen behind for the benefit of public health and safety. At times like this, the product protection benefits of plastic packaging become more apparent and plastic reduction strategies adopted in the future will have to reflect this.

By harnessing the power of INSEAD’s global community, the challenge has managed to turn individual actions into a collective movement with global impact, with the potential to extend even further in the future.

If you would like to replicate this challenge on your campus or in your community, you can contact Maria Fedorova at INSEAD (maria.fedorova@insead.edu) for more information and you can read the full report on the project here.