2017 Welcome Speech

With the end of the academic year fast approaching, here’s a throw-back to the beginning of the year so you can see how far we’ve all come!

The previous President of the Environmental Committee, Marc Weilenmann, gave this speech at the orientation day of current Interdisciplinary Masters students. It inspired many students at the institute to get involved with the Environmental Committee, and hopefully it will inspire you too!


I have the pleasure to be the head of the Environmental Committee at the Graduate Institute. My name is Marc Weilenmann and I am a second year student in Political Science and International Relations. So on the behalf of myself and the EC, we would like to extend to you a warm welcome to the Institute.

First of all, I would like to thank Michal Sela for sharing with the Environmental Committee this precious time to address you. I believe this is a great example of how the Graduate Institute is taking sustainability but also students’ concerns increasingly serious.

The reason why I speak here is because sustainability is a cross-cutting issue. Take for example the rise of sea levels that will displace entire communities. This will impact regional economic systems, it will produce migration flows, it will change what national politicians prioritize. How international diplomacy works, the way our legal frameworks are designed, and how communities interact with their material environment. It poses questions of global justice, of distribution, and the values that underpin our society. It is the challenge for all of us in the future.

It needs everyone of us around the table. And this is where the Environmental Committee come in. We push for sustainability on three fronts: on the students’ side, in the administration, and together with cantonal and national networks.

On the students side, for example, we made a farm field trip. We organized panel discussions and movie-screenings. We sell local products every week, watch the menu of the cafeteria, and make our students know about how their live their lives more sustainably. One of our achievements is that the students’ residence Picciotto has a proper recycling system now, or that the Institute, after many years, has launched a sustainability track in the MINT programme. The latter shows that this institutions has recognized one of the most important trends in the future for our education and for our society.

This semester, we have plenty of projects in the pipeline. Let me mention just a few of them. We organize with the Alumni Relations and Career Services a sustainability career fair where we invite high-level professionals. We shape the plans for the new housing residence in Grand-Saconnex. We extend our small recycling-library, hold further panel discussions, and more movie-screenings. And for all these things, we need more man and women power!

And there is many more things to do. What is specific about the Environmental Committee is that we work very horizontally. This means we have flat hierarchies and when you join us you can make your project, push for the things that are important for you and that you can connect with your background.

On that note, I would like to invite you to join us the 28th of September at 6 p.m. in Picciotto. We will hold our first meeting and when you want to know more about us, please drop by. Tomorrow at noon, we will sell local products in front of the cafeteria and on Thursday we are at the initiatives’ fair. I look forward to seeing you during one of these occasions!

Marc Weilenmann
September 14, 2017


Today, Marc is still an active member of the Environmental Committee, despite being busy working on his thesis and having other commitments outside of the Graduate Institute. We will all be sorry to see him graduate this semester, though hopefully his words can inspire you to get involved and tackle environmental issues in your own context!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s