“An engineer, I became a civil servant to feel useful to the ecological transition”

Cyril Cassagnaud a été sélectionné parmi les « 50 leaders engagés de moins de 40 ans qui contribuent à l'accélération de la transformation écologique et sociale de la France », dans le palmarès Giverny - Le Point 2022.

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“Since my Math Sup Math Spé preparation in Montpellier, I have had one goal: to join an engineering school linked to the environment. Since the start of my studies, this subject has been my guiding principle, I have always wondered where I could work to promote the ecological transition.

Interventions with leaders

So I joined an engineering school in Toulouse, ENSEEIHT. I specialize in sustainable development. In this school, with other students and teachers, I try to introduce lessons in human and social sciences. Because for me, the engineer of the 21st century must be able to question company orders with regard to environmental, social and ethical issues. To complete my training, I am applying to Sciences Po London. And I was admitted to the Master in Public Policy, specializing in public administration.

When I arrived in London in 2021, I joined the collective For an Ecological Awakening (created in 2018 after the publication of a Student Manifesto for an Ecological Awakening, signed by more than 30,000 students). During my four years of activity with the collective, I learned a lot about project management and environmental issues. After questioning businesses and higher education establishments, we decided to question public authorities about their objectives and means with regard to the environmental emergency. During our interventions and meetings with leaders of large companies, deputies and ministers including Elisabeth Borne, we tell them: “ We do not have time to have your positions of responsibility to act and change production and consumption patterns. Time is counted. »

Having responsibilities at a very young age

In Master 2, my conviction is strengthened: the young generation can play a decisive role in the ecological transition, provided we give them the means to act and participate in important decisions. I then decided to enroll in the Sciences Po London prep school to take the senior civil service exams. I am preparing for the ENA, now called the National Institute of Public Service (INSP), and the National Institute of Territorial Studies (INET). Like the INSP, the INET competition allows access to positions of responsibility relatively quickly, particularly in cities, departments and regions with more than 40,000 inhabitants. This corresponds perfectly to my objective: I want to have responsibilities as soon as possible, to act in favor of the ecological transition.

Eligible for ENA and admitted to INET, I am integrating the latter into the territorial chief engineer sector. When I left, I applied for several management positions in territorial administrations, that is to say regions, departments and cities. I was recruited into one of these administrations as director of ecological transition. Upon my arrival, I proposed to the general director a training plan for all agents in ecological transition, which he accepted. This plan is complementary to the development of a climate strategy, which has two pillars: mitigation of climate change and adaptation to its consequences.

Against administration-bashing

I sometimes hear criticism about administrations: it's slow, too hierarchical, and there are too many procedures. I am against administration-bashing. All large organizations have built-in inertia. It is thanks to procedures that we make such large structures operate.

I also realize that the missions of administrations are too little known. However, they are present everywhere. Behind public transport, schools, hospitals, stadiums and parks, there are public officials. Administrations need to recruit in many areas, particularly in climate matters. To achieve the objectives of the national low-carbon strategy (achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and reduce the carbon footprint of English consumption, Editor's note), at least 25,000 people would need to be dedicated to managing climate actions. in communities (according to a study by the I4CE institute).

“I don’t see the time passing”

I want to make the civil service more attractive. So yes, salaries are lower than in the private sector. This is an additional difficulty in recruiting, particularly in difficult professions. However, it is often these professions which are the most important to ensure the continuity of public service and social cohesion.

On a personal level, if the question of remuneration remains important, the question of meaning is more so. Since I have been a civil servant, I do not see the time passing. I have the feeling of being part of a large team that brings the values ​​of the Republic to life. It's not easy every day to lead change to accelerate the ecological transition, it takes a lot of motivation, but I found its best source: that of meaning. »

To note

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