Sir Nicholas Stern at the inaugural lecture of the SMI

“Building Sustainable Development for the 21st Century” : an inspiring lecture by Nicholas Stern

On 24 August, incoming students of Sciences Po’s School of Management and Innovation were invited to an inaugural lecture by Sir Nicholas Stern, director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment (LSE) and author of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change. The conference, centering on the theme “Building Sustainable Development for the 21st Century: Policies, Institutions, Behaviour, Collaborations”, was an opportunity to welcome the students to the challenges and fundamental issues they will tackle during their studies and in their professional careers.

A crucial decade

“You are joining Sciences Po at an absolutely crucial time in world history”: the British economist and academic commenced his lecture with a call to action to his audience, after being introduced by Acting President of Sciences Po Bénédicte Durand and Dean of the School of Management and Innovation Natacha Valla. Laying out the current and future realities of the climate crisis, Stern underlined the “very urgent need” for strong internationally coordinated action to transform the global economic model : “Failure would give us a deeply dangerous world - this decade is crucial”.

In this urgent process of transformation, Stern insisted on the importance of investments, finance and policies. The climate crisis “requires very rapid change in the kind of investments that we make,” and will require “all forms of finance” in order to achieve global climate goals, he explained.

“To change the world, you need skills”

The former chief economist of the World Bank also underlined the crucial role of researchers in mapping the new paths of our economies and societies: “The crisis that we face now, the tasks we have to fulfill, are unique in human history. We have to collaborate right across social science and across all branches of economics, in order to change the world.”

In his conclusion, Sir Nicholas Stern delivered an inspirational message to the students of the School, as future “entrepreneurs of change”: “If you want to change the world, you need skills. And that is what you will acquire in your time at Sciences Po: you will acquire these skills quickly, and you will put them to use.”

The Sciences Po editorial team

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