Ecological and Societal Transformation: IMT Atlantique sets its course

How can we respond to the challenges of climate change and to questions about our development model? IMT Atlantique is at the forefront of these issues and has adopted a clear position and defined its main orientations on  "ecological and social transformation".

The challenges of climate change and the overall sustainability of our development are now widely recognised, both in the scientific community and among institutional decision-makers. In 2015, the UN adopted an agenda that defines 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 (see our contribution). Given the complexity of the issues at stake, it is essential that we all move forward together.

IMT Atlantique has the legitimacy to address these issues. Internationally recognised, it is among the top 200 institutions worldwide in the Times Higher Education (THE Impact) ranking dedicated to the SDGs. As the first higher education institution to have adopted an "Agenda 21" (as early as 2008), the school is already deeply committed internally . It is also one of the promoters of the "Sustainable Development and Social Responsibility" (SD&RS) label in higher education.

Acceleration on all fronts

The effects of climate change are accelerating: environmental issues have taken on a global dimension and the expectations of our stakeholders are becoming more pressing. We needed to move up a gear and broaden our thinking. Technology, digital technology, engineering and management are powerful levers to address these issues.
As of March 2021, IMT Atlantique has therefore undertaken to define its own SD&RS trajectory. Over several months, all its stakeholders were consulted: teachers, partner companies and institutions, local authorities, etc. Students and staff were also involved in the process.
This work led to the drafting of IMT Atlantique's "policy" on "ecological and societal transformation" for the next 5 to 10 years and to the identification of the areas on which it will focus its efforts. 

The institution's ambition can be summarised as follows:

contribute to limiting the effects of human activity on the environment and the climate, by inventing new modes of production and consumption and by helping society to transform itself in order to face the socio-climatic challenges.

This strategic vision will then be translated into action plans.

A focus on ecology

In line with the roadmap for ecological transition adopted by the Institut Mines-Télécom, the school has chosen to emphasise the ecological cornerstone of sustainable development. This does not mean giving up the "societal" aspect or the economic dimension. The various UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are difficult to reconcile - even though they are highly interdependent. IMT's strategy thus retains a systemic approach, which is essential in view of the gigantic transformation project awaiting our societies.

Four areas to work on

IMT Atlantique has identified four main areas of work, which will be the focus of future actions:

  • acting to mitigate the impact of climate change, with an emphasis on reducing energy intensity
  • preserving the diversity of species and resources
  • inventing sustainable modes of production and consumption;
  • facilitating the adaptation of societies to change, to build a sustainable, resilient and responsible world.

These choices reflect a particular focus on three SDGs: combating climate change (SDG 13), access to quality education (SDG 4), responsible consumption and production (SDG 12). To these were added SDGs 14 and 15 on marine and terrestrial biodiversity - two goals that may seem far removed from the concerns of a technical university like IMT Atlantique, but which are essential for the long term.

The key principles

This strategy for the transformation of the university is also based on three main principles:

  • anchoring our scientific fundamentals
    These fundamentals must be further strengthened for the training of students in subjects relating to ecological and societal transformation. We are convinced that French engineers, with their broad training, their solid scientific foundation and their systemic vision, have undeniable assets to deal with these issues.
  • action both internally and externally
    In other words, within the university itself, but also towards society as a whole, through our missions in education, research, innovation and economic development.
  • define priorities according to their expected impact
    For the time being, the working group has identified about forty avenues and issues that we could take on. Only some of these will be prioritised, depending on the impacts envisaged.