Ignacio de la Vega, Dean of EGADE Business School, reported on EGADE Business School’s progress in corporate sustainability and responsible leadership at the United Nations.
The world is undergoing an era of change. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) reflect the response of the international community to the economic, distributive and environmental imbalances generated by the dominant paradigm of development.
In this context, business schools, as institutions that play a decisive role in the preparation of the future organizational leaders, have been called on to act as the catalysts of corporate sustainability in our societies. In Mexico and Latin America, EGADE Business School, through numerous initiatives launched across the last decade, is leading the transformation of business education for the development of responsible, sustainable leadership that will have a positive impact on the environment and the communities it serves.
The progress made by the School in this sphere was presented yesterday by Ignacio de la Vega, Dean of EGADE Business School, to the United Nations as part of the Global Event of the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI), which took place within the framework of the follow-up and review session of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and SDGs (High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development), with the participation of top government officials, the UN, academics and sustainability experts.
Several panels and working groups reviewed the key challenges, best practices and policy initiatives that are relevant for the SDGs (especially those related to the following goals: Clean Water and Sanitation, Affordable and Clean Energy, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Responsible Production and Consumption, Life on Land, and Partnerships for the Goals), and how business schools are integrating the 2030 Agenda into their sustainability strategies, research, teaching, pedagogy and university practices.
Analysis: How big is the challenge in Latin America?
Latin America is a complex region full of contrasts, marked by a greater inequality in the distribution of wealth than any other region in the world, with grave social exclusion and security problems, as well as some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world that are currently under threat. These sustainability challenges are accompanied by a renewal of political leadership in many Latin American nations –up to 12 electoral processes will have taken place in the region by the year end—, whose government actions will be key to the accomplishment of the SDGs.
Although Latin American countries have proved their strong commitment to sustainable development with their extensive participation in the formulation and adoption processes of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs, they must now show their leadership capacity to make this vision a reality. These are some of the urgent challenges that need to be addressed:
- Major progressive structural changes should be implemented for the transition toward knowledge-based economies, social inclusion and to company the negative impacts of climate change.
- As the most urbanized region in the world, with more than 80% of the population living in cities, innovation in public transport and traffic management, waste and wastewater treatment, and energy-efficient buildings is crucial.
- Another challenge faced by the region is the need to make information available in order to produce the SDG global indicators. The development of big data will be critical for more precise, timely decision-making.
- Social and work protection policies must be consolidated through public-private partnerships. To adjust to the new employment reality, the new demands of education, universal protection and welfare economics must be taken into consideration.
- Countries need to improve coordination to control illicit capital flows and apply common tax, social and environmental standards to attract quality foreign direct investment without unfair competition.
- Creation of a digital common market with intellectual property rules that favor technology transfer, and a fund for buying and licensing patents, which are invaluable assets in a knowledge economy.
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) includes further recommendations in its roadmap towards the 2030 Agenda in the region (published in April 2018).
What is EGADE Business School doing to address these challenges?
The School has been a member of PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education) of the UN Global Compact since 2007. Before that, it collaborated on research initiatives, programs and dissemination related to the six PRME principles, then with the Millennium Goals and now with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). PRME is an initiative backed by the United Nations, founded in 2007 as a platform to raise the profile of sustainability in business schools around the world and to provide their students with the knowledge and capacity to be agents of change.
EGADE Business School has been a pioneer institution in Latin America in responsible business and leadership education since the introduction of the first business ethics course over 35 years ago. Since then, it has promoted the transversal development of sustainability in academic programs, research, partnership and liaison with companies, and in alliances with academic institutions and global networks.
Sustainability education forms part of the DNA of EGADE Business School and has been an area that is recurrently recognized as a source of best practices by the leading global accreditation agencies (AACSB, EQUIS, AMBA) in the last decade.
- Turn knowledge into action: Active participation in global discussion and in the design of goals and strategies for commitment, action and impact have been a key component of consolidating the School’s capacities.
- PRME Champion: EGADE Business School has been an extremely active participant in the PRME of the UN Global Compact since its creation in 2007. This founding membership and subsequent participation has been fundamental to the generation of a roadmap for the transversal inclusion of sustainable education in our academic program, and our research and dissemination strategy. In the past, the School led the regional LATAM-Caribe PRME Chapter and is currently honored to be a PRME Champion school.
- Global alliances: The School has partnered with global sustainability leaders to develop knowledge, teaching and research through its membership in associations such as AACSB, AMBA, EFMD, CLADEA, Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative, WBCSD or the World Environment Center.
- Global Network for Advanced Management: In the last few years, our founding membership of the Global Network with another 29 global business schools has been of utmost importance for the practical implementation of sustainability education at the School, connecting students, faculty and researchers, companies and the EGADE Business School community with an interconnected group of leading business schools from diverse regions, countries, cultures and economies at different stages of development.