“Our business school needs this and our community needs this,” said Mariya Chugay, president of the John Molson Sustainable Enterprise Committee (JSEC).
What Chugay is referring to is the Montreal Youth Summit on Sustainable Businesses that took place over the weekend. John Molson School of Business (JMSB), Desautels Faculty of Management and Hautes études commerciales (HEC) de Montréal business schools collaborated on a weekend of raising awareness and discussion around sustainability in business.
The summit had 42 speakers over two days.
Chugay described the first day as a horizontal involvement with the attendees. There were about 20 speakers facilitating panels, where youth could listen and learn from the speakers. The second day she described as vertical involvement, where students got more hands-on experience through skills training sessions. There, they could apply what they learned on the first day to the workshops.
“This event is larger than what we’ve done before,” said Chugay. “We are trying to unite youth and unite universities.”
Chugay explained the purpose of the summit was to break the silence on the conversation of sustainable practices in business and to educate, inspire and connect youth. For example, there were discussions on the future of sustainability in finance, climate change policy and competitiveness, and exploring the environmental sustainability of alternative currencies like cryptocurrency.
If they don’t know what sustainability is, we are not going to get anywhere to mitigate climate change,” said Chugay.
Rachel Copnick, an international business student at JMSB, said she attended the event to gain a better perspective of people in the business sector who work with sustainability practices.
“I think it’s the future,” said Copnick. “I think the people who are not looking at it are ignorant. Although our generation can continue to earn money and have a successful life without [practicing it], it’s not sustainable. We need to be responsible, we’re in a crisis right now.”
Sarah Knight, who is studying marketing at JMSB with a minor in sustainability studies, said by coming to this event, she wanted to learn more about the relationship sustainability has with businesses.
Knight explained that she learned a lot from the Climate Change Policy and Competitiveness panel, specifically about venture capitalists, who buy stocks or ownership shares in private companies for their limited partners, to try to make a profit for their limited partner’s clients. During the panel, Knight said speaker Mihaela Stefanov, a senior manager in the Climate Change and Sustainability Services at international professional services firm Ernst & Young Global Limited, explained how the sector that would gain the most profit differs per province or country, depending on their main energy source.
“I learned more about what venture capitalists are looking for right now in this sector, which is renewable energy,” said Knight. “I thought it was interesting to learn that renewable energy in Quebec isn’t something that’s going to make money because we already have hydroelectricity, but in other countries like Germany it’s a huge investment.”
Chugay explained the Youth Summit was environmentally sustainable as well.
“Down to the core, we’re going almost 100 per cent paperless,” said Chugay.
Chugay added that JSEC hired the Concordia Dish Project, a reusable dish service, for the event. She added that they even received the sustainable events certification from Concordia, which JSEC and other sustainable organizations on campus oversee.
Photo by Jad Abukasm