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The Interview


Cleaning Everest: How a French entrepreneur scaled an insurmountable problem

29 August 2023 • by Julia Binder in The InterviewPodcast availablePodcast available

French entrepreneur and mountain guide Marion Chaygneaud-Dupuy explains to Professor of Sustainable Innovation and Business Transformation Julia Binder how she made a profitable business model – climbing Mount Everest – more sustainable...

Mount Everest, the highest point on the planet, has become a tragic example of the environmental damage wrought by humans. Over the past 30 years, climbing to the roof of the world has turned into a profitable commercial enterprise with hundreds of mountaineers spending around $100,000 in a bid to achieve the feat. Yet the ever-growing crowds have left their mark, with plastic bottles, torn tents, piles of human excrement, and abandoned oxygen tanks now littering the once pristine mountainside. 

In 2013, Marion Chaygneaud-Dupuy, founder of social enterprise Global Nomad who has led over 50 humanitarian projects, climbed Everest to diagnose the extent of the pollution. Following that expedition, she decided to set up the Clean Everest project together with Tibetan mountain guides to remove 10 tons of trash from the mountain and encourage responsible expeditions. This was no easy feat.

The project involved dealing with the governments of Tibet and Nepal, local communities and guides, and foreign tour operators. Chaygneaud-Dupuy, a French woman who has lived in the region for many years but was nonetheless an outsider, succeeded in mobilizing the local community and managing multiple stakeholders to achieve sustainable change.

In a wide-ranging discussion with Professor of Sustainable Innovation and Business Transformation Julia Binder, she describes how her training in Tibetan Buddhism gave her a common language in which to engage, and why a strong commercial strategy should be the backbone of any successful sustainable enterprise.


Marion Chaygneaud

Marion Chaygneaud Dupuy

Entrepreneur, Himalayan Guide, & CEO, Global Nomad

Entrepreneur Marion Chaygneaud Dupuy, has lived in the Himalayas for twenty-two years and is the first European woman to have climbed Mount Everest three times. She is the founder of Global Nomad, an NGO and has led over 50 humanitarian projects including “Clean Everest”, with a focus on education, social entrepreneurship, healthcare and environmental services. 


Julia Binder

Julia Binder

Professor of Sustainable innovation and Business Transformation at IMD

Julia Binder, Professor of Sustainable Innovation and Business Transformation, is a renowned thought leader recognized on the 2022 Thinkers50 Radar list for her work at the intersection of sustainability and innovation. As Director of IMD’s Center for Sustainable and Inclusive Business, Binder is dedicated to leveraging IMD’s diverse expertise on sustainability topics to guide business leaders in discovering innovative solutions to contemporary challenges. At IMD, Binder serves as Program Director for Creating Value in the Circular Economy and teaches in key open programs including the Advanced Management Program (AMP), Transition to Business Leadership (TBL), TransformTech (TT), and Leading Sustainable Business Transformation (LSBT). She is involved in the school’s EMBA and MBA programs, and contributes to IMD’s custom programs, crafting transformative learning journeys for clients globally.

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