What message do you want to spread through this manifesto?
We want to show that we as students are concerned about the environmental and social disaster our societies are faced with. We want to show we are aware of the causes leading to this disaster: an economic system that doesn’t seem to understand natural resources are limited, and harmful individual behaviors characterized by over-consumption and waste. With this manifesto we want to share the contradiction in which we find ourselves, being aware of the situation, yet stuck in front of career prospects that often don’t seem to work towards any solution, no matter how vital that would be.
What are you hoping to achieve thanks to this manifesto?
We hope that signing this manifesto will encourage students to discuss environmental issues that are crucial to our future as a society, as well as to think of some solutions they can provide to these challenges. Since it’s difficult to commit to such things alone, we believe the collective momentum this manifesto aims at creating can give each of them the motivation and courage necessary to take into account these issues in their professional and personal lives. Above all, if this manifesto alone won’t make everything change, it is part of a mobilization around environmental and social issues. And it shows that students participate in this mobilization. Some other examples of this broader movement: the call against environmental degradation signed by 15,000 scientists, the ever growing awareness regarding the status of biodiversity (“plan biodiversity” released by the French government in July, COP on biodiversity to happen in 2020), the French “PACTE” law redefining companies’ social role, the consultation on Europe until the end of 2018, the call for a “Finance-Climate Compact”.
Why don’t you offer solutions?
Scientists from all over the world wrote a text similar to ours in September 2017, and they displayed several potential approaches. But the solutions sweep across all economic sectors and political topics: they depend on the context, on the sector concerned, on the scale envisaged, on the actors who will implement them. We don’t wish to defend specific solutions -rather the idea that a deep change in mindsets, both personal and collective, is necessary for these solutions to be spread at the right scale. The first step is a personal one: it’s about stopping to turn a blind eye to the problem, about staying informed as much as possible so as to then be able to think of how one may act, individually or on a professional or political level. To avoid any frustration for those who want to explore the issues or get involved quickly, we propose a list of sources of information and courses of action on a dedicated page, What Next?, in order to give ideas to those who need them and make them want to make new commitments.
Who wrote this manifesto?
The editorial team includes students from various French higher education schools: AgroParisTech, CentraleSupélec, Ecole Polytechnique, HEC Paris, and ENS Ulm. The text has also benefited from feedback provided by numerous students at dozens of differents institutions. We are perfectly aware of not being representative of all students in France or around the world, and we don’t pretend to be. We are nevertheless convinced that many students can identify with the message conveyed in this manifesto, and that they can fully adopt the commitments implied.