Past events

November 12, 2021 - E4S Annual Summit 2021

On November 12th, E4S held its Annual Summit 2021. It was the first opportunity to gather the E4S stakeholders in person, bringing together over 40 business leaders and 200 participants from academia, business, NGOs and Government.

Read the full summary of the event here:

’We believe in the power of ideas to transform society‘ say leaders at E4S Annual Summit 2021

September 24, 2021 - SMT Master Program Inaugural Event

On September 24th, a panel of distinguished speakers took the stage at IMD Lausanne to inspire students and push them to be challenging, during the Sustainable Management & Technology Master Program’s inaugural event from the E4S Center.

Read a full report of the event here

August 31, 2021 - Responsible Consumption: shall we change the model?



April 20, 2021 - Roundtable - The airline ticket tax: too much or not enough?

Account of the event

A tax that can change behavior if well designed

The airline ticket tax proposed by the swiss CO2 law in the spotlight

The swiss people will vote on June 13th an act on CO2 mitigation that proposes, among other measures, an airline ticket tax. In their upcoming white paper, the E4S platform “Evidence-based environmental policy” evaluates the impact of this tax on demand and emissions. Philippe Thalmann, professor of urban economics at EPFL, and coordinator of the platform explains that, in order to change behavior in the magnitude needed to attain the carbon objectives, the tax should be higher for long-haul flights.
To enrich the debate, industry and public stakeholders were invited to express their arguments for and against the measure. Julian Cook, specialist of the aviation sector, argues for alternative measures that would not hurt the industry as hard, such as taxing the more polluting aircrafts. Jean-Marc Thévenaz, CEO of Easy Jet Switzerland, worries that frontier airports such as Basel will suffer from de-localisation of air traffic. A coordinated effort with the rest of Europe is important for Blaise Matthey, managing director of the Federation des Entreprises Romandes Geneva.
A policy to discourage unnecessary flights is being tested by EPFL, as explained by Gisou Van der Goot, vice-president for responsible transformation. Professors that would like to travel abroad to attend conferences are requested to justify the need to fly instead of attending remotely or taking alternative less polluting modes of transport. For the young generation represented by Adrien Legrain, sustainability specialist at the same institution, “this is principally a signalling measure” to show that Switzerland walks the talk. Nikolai Orgland shows that the production process of bio-fuels alternative to kerosene is itself higly polluting, and advocates for therefore for behavioral measures to curb emissions.

November 12, 2020 - E4S Annual Summit 2020

On November 12th, 2020, E4S held its Annual Summit 2020. In the first annual meeting of E4S — the Enterprise for Society Center, a unique collaboration between three leading academic institutions — leaders called for urgent action to address some of society’s worst ills including climate change.


October 7th, 2020: Round table around the Responsible Business initiative


Account of the event:

How to make the Swiss economy more responsible without slowing it down

Opinion divided at roundtable in anticipation of national vote on multinationals and human rights

In the run-up to the popular vote on Swiss corporate responsibility in November, Enterprise for Society (E4S) – the competence hub which brings together IMD, EPFL and the HEC faculty of the University of Lausanne – has been the driving force behind a roundtable on the subject.The event, in collaboration with Swiss newspaper Le Temps, took place at the IMD campus on 7 October.Fostering an economic paradigm that can protect human rights while safeguarding our environmental heritage, the initiative for responsible multinationals continues to be the subject of lively debate in Switzerland.While there is a general consensus on the relevance of pursuing the objective, opinions regarding the means to achieve it are still split between those who support the project and those who oppose it. The vote will take place on 29 November.For Alliance Sud, which actively supports the initiative, the Swiss economic framework needs to acquire a preventive tool with a view to making its activities more virtuous.”The voluntary measures that are currently adopted or proposed are proving insufficient to achieve this,” underlined business and human rights expert Laurent Matile. “Not to mention the unequal competition fostered in a context lacking the rule of law”.“The way foreigners conduct business shouldn’t be Switzerland’s burden”“Why should a Swiss company be held accountable for illegal or human-rights violations committed by foreign suppliers who, on their own soil, with the inaction or even complicity of their government, do not respect these fundamental aspects?” asked Cristina Gaggini, the director of economiesuisse from the French-speaking part of Switzerland.As well as flagging up the problem of liability, she also pointed out how Switzerland and its economic fabric would do well to refuse the vote as it would avoid a whole host of legal obstacles inherent to the initiative.


Perception of the initiative: what does the research say?

The E4S center conducts research on how the role of economic actors is perceived, with a view to encouraging debate and positioning various parties. Research carried out by Anna Jasinenko from the HEC faculty of the University of Lausanne, and Vanina Farber, from IMD, together with colleagues from EPFL, shows that the current pandemic-induced crisis has led to more support of the initiative. This indicates that corporate liability claims have increased as a result of the crisis.

“The COVID-19 crisis has repositioned social issues related to the role of key business players,” said Vanina Farber. “Respect for human rights being at the heart of these issues, the time is ripe to have a discussion about the effects that the adoption of the initiative would have. And this is true whether the consequences turn out to be positive or negative, especially in terms of enlightening the population as much as possible about what is at stake in this vote.”

While most participants in an E4S survey agreed that companies have a responsibility to contribute to the common good, an interesting dynamic has appeared during the pandemic. While opponents seem to be more supportive of the initiative, early supporters now have a less favorable perception of its legitimacy.

However, this negative effect has been much smaller than the positive effect of the change in attitude of opponents. Opinions are less polarized today than at the beginning of the pandemic.


Playing on dogmas

SMEs were well represented during the roundtable. Christophe Barman (pictured), founder of the business services company Loyco, pleaded for the rapid emergence of a progressive model that could get rid of the dogmas that weigh on our perception of the economy.

“In addition to sustainable commitment – which is not an option but an obvious and immediate necessity –  it is high time for umbrella organizations and other entrepreneurial firms to better represent the interests and motivations of the current generation,” he said.

“Today’s employees are looking for meaning in what they do. Without this, I am willing to bet that irresponsible economic players will find it increasingly difficult to attract talent to their teams in the near future”.


From soft law to hard law

At the legal level, it seems that the initiative, whether or not it proves complex to implement, is part of a today’s social and political reality, as confirmed by a look at our European neighbors whose projects in the area of corporate social responsibility (CSR) have been multiplying for some time now.

As for the question of controls, if the initiative is accepted, it would seem that “the various solutions and potential applications are still unclear,” said lawyer Julie Wynne of the Froriep law firm.

In the event of rejection, the indirect counter-project developed by the Parliament, would come into effect.




January 28, 2020: The Work of the Future: Shaping Technology & Society

Event hosted by the Enterprise for Society Center (E4S) at IMD.

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