Sustainability Week at the UPF Barcelona School of Management, framed within the activity plan of the Master of Science in Sustainability Management, was not just any week. Between 13 and 17 February, the students on this program, carried out jointly with ESCI-UPF, left the classrooms and changed their usual classes for daily visits and talks related to sustainability from different viewpoints.
The objective of this initiative is for students to personally know the reality of the world of sustainability in various sectors of activity, with the possibility of consulting with and asking questions of the different experts with whom they had the opportunity to exchange views.
ESCI-UPF Deputy Director of the Master’s Degree and promoter of the initiative, Lela Mélon, explained that “now more than ever, and especially in the field of sustainability, a balanced approach is needed to understand the challenges and solutions related to business sustainability, and for this an intersectoral understanding is needed.”
An immersive intersectoral experience
That’s exactly what Sustainability Week offered the School's students: an immersive intersectoral experience (sustainable tourism, retail, sustainable finance, eco-labelling, sustainable construction, waste management, etc.), with meetings with leading professionals in their fields and the possibility of students expanding their network of contacts. In this way, students were able to put their knowledge into practice before leaving the program.
The activities began on Monday, 13 February with a visit to the Municipal Waste Treatment Centre in which students could observe first-hand the packaging selection plant that treats all packaging waste for the Barcelona Metropolitan Area, as well as the bulky waste treatment plant. The following day, Tuesday 14 February, there was a visit to La Fageda, a pioneering project located in La Garrotxa, where Oriol Gol (director of Sustainability), Anna Monells (director of the Social Area) and Albert Riera (director of Institutional Relations) showed students the production plant for yogurts and jams, the cow farm, the treatment plant and the biomass incinerator.
On Wednesday there was a talk on sustainable finance and impact investments by Pablo de Muller, Founding Partner of SUMA Capital, at the ESCI-UPF campus, while on Thursday the students had two visits: firstly, the Mercadona facilities in Barcelona, where the company’s director of Circular Economy, Antonio Romero, explained how Mercadona integrates sustainability and circular economy into its business. The second visit was to Casa Yök, where its CEO and founder Mari Marañís introduced the students to the Yök Casa y Cultura project, a small sustainable hotel in all aspects, from the design to the totality of the services they offer.
Finally, on Friday there was also a double program on the ESCI-UPF campus: first, a talk by Justo Orgaz Domínguez, president of the Green Building Council, who analysed the current and future ability of the construction sector to face the challenge of climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). And later there was a new talk by Carina Hopper, co-founder of EDuC Label for Sustainability Education, on eco-labels in diverse sectors, and the process of creating a certification system of its own.
“For the students it has turned out to be a very complete and enriching week where they have had the opportunity to see the reality of what they are learning in the master’s classes,” said the Deputy Director of the master’s on behalf of UPF-BSM and promoter of the initiative, Erola Palau.
In addition, Lela Mélon declared: “student feedback has been encouraging with regards to future Sustainability Weeks."