The University of Montpellier adopts its master plan for ecological transition (SDTE)

In view of the current challenges facing our society, the University of Montpellier decided to draw up a master plan for its ecological transition a year ahead of schedule, and to vote on it at the Board of Governors meeting on November 20. Four axes and 48 actions to be deployed over the 2023-2026 period (fully articulated with the institution's 2021-2026 multi-year contract and 2023-2025 contract of objectives, means and performance) in order to reinforce the measures already put in place over recent years at the UM and to initiate and coordinate the implementation on each site of an ecological transition policy commensurate with its ambitions.

A few words about the master plan for ecological transition

The University of Montpellier's SDTE is a year ahead of schedule in its response to the Climate-Biodiversity and Ecological Transition Plan launched by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research, and supplemented by a framework note in June 2023, which calls for each institution to draw up a sustainable development - social and environmental responsibility master plan by 2024.

Adopting this master plan for ecological transition as early as 2023 was of the utmost importance. That's why the UM had already anticipated a number of actions and planned others. It was therefore only natural that this plan should be produced in 2023, in perfect harmony with the 2023-2025 Contract of Objectives, Means and Performance and the 2021-2026 Multi-Year Contract.

"This master plan for ecological transition (SDTE) is therefore a major responsibility for the university. I have every confidence in the momentum generated and in the deployment of this unifying project, which brings together all the university's structures and which I am sure will be enthusiastically supported by all students and staff," declares Philippe Augé, President of the University of Montpellier.

The main strategies and objectives of the master plan for the ecological transition

Focus 1: Education and training, "Training students and staff for the ecological transition".

Main objectives :

  • Integrate ecological transition and sustainable development issues into teaching methods 
  • Promoting and supporting the development of staff skills in ecological transition 
  • Encouraging student commitment to and promotion of the ecological transition

In particular, this area will meet the requirement to set up training modules on ecological transition for sustainable development (TEDS) forundergraduates, and comprises 11 actions. An educational engineer will be recruited, teacher training courses will be organized and teaching resources will be made available via UM's moodle platform.

Technological demonstrators will also be set up on campus to involve students in concrete ways.

Training courses on the ecological transition will be offered to UM staff, as well as specific training related to their profession.

Axis 2: Research and innovation, "Promoting responsible research for the ecological transition".

Main objectives :

  • Integrating the ecological transition into research and innovation at the UM
  • Increasing interaction between science and society

One of the main objectives of this area is to encourage research laboratories to assess the impact of their activities on the environment, taking into account business travel, resource consumption and purchasing. To this end, the adoption of the Labo 1.5 research consortium approach supported by CNRS, Inrae, Ademe, Inria and Sorbonne Université will be encouraged, and available indicators will be provided to laboratories.

Area 3: Environment, "Acting for the environment and changing behaviors

Main objectives :

  • Reducing UM's carbon footprint 
  • Reducing and managing waste 
  • Protecting and promoting biodiversity

Last January, the UM adopted an energy conservation plan aimed at reducing its energy consumption and thus its contribution to reducing global warming. The SDTE plans to support this approach by carrying out a major diagnosis of greenhouse gas emissions throughout the UM. The actions under this heading are an extension of the numerous energy-efficiency upgrades to buildings and connections to district heating networks carried out under the stimulus plan, and include the installation of photovoltaic panels.

These actions are coupled with a policy in favor of soft mobility, with the gradual replacement of the fleet of combustion-powered vehicles by electric vehicles, and the encouragement of the use of bicycles and public transport. A travel charter should soon be in place to encourage UM staff to choose the train rather than the plane for their business trips whenever possible.

Another focus of the plan is waste management. For several years now, the UM has been organizing the collection and reconditioning of IT equipment and certain office furniture. For everyday waste, sorting bins are available on certain sites, but selective collection needs to be rationalized and standardized.

With regard to biodiversity, the SDTE plans to continue the actions already undertaken on the campuses: " zero pesticides, zero watering, late mowing and pruning to encourage the reproduction of insects and birds, which are greatly impacted by the environmental crisis ", recalls Frédérique Carcaillet. To help staff and students discover the richness of their campus, biodiversity workshops have been planned so that everyone can discover the common biodiversity of everyday life, and participate in the effort to inventory, monitor and promote it.

Axis 4: Strategy and governance, "Building governance for the ecological transition and promoting responsible business".

Main objectives :

  • Integrating the ecological transition policy into UM's management structure
  • Mobilize the necessary human, technical and financial resources 
  • A responsible development approach that reconciles economic, social and environmental concerns

Since 2022, the UM's ecological transition policy has been overseen by the vice-president in charge of environmental issues, together with all the other vice-presidencies and departments of the University. An administrative and operational support office dedicated to sustainable development and corporate social responsibility has been set up within the Direction du pilotage, with the principal mission of steering and monitoring work related to the ecological transition. In its first year of operation, this support office has set up a decision-making and operational structure comprising a steering committee, an operational committee, a network of "ecological transition" referents and thematic working groups. 

Tools for steering and monitoring the implementation of the various actions will be developed and deployed in order to best allocate human, technical and financial resources for the UM's ecological transition. They will also enable the performance of the approach to be assessed and analyzed, and will be a valuable source of information for communicating, raising awareness and encouraging commitment and support from all.

Practical information:

  • Date of vote on the SDTE by the UM Board of Directors: November 20, 2023
  • More information on the SDTE:here
  • The complete SDTE: here