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Hoffmann Institute


SDG Week 2022: Every Action Counts


Hoffmann Institute

SDG Week 2022: Every Action Counts

SDG Week 2022: Every Action Counts

For the fourth year, the Hoffmann Institute and INSEAD student clubs organized SDG Week to showcase how business can drive progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

From 2-4 November, the Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society hosted the fourth annual INSEAD SDG Week. SDG Week is an on-campus event to raise awareness on how business can drive progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. The Week engages students, staff, faculty and our community with interactive sessions and inspiring speakers. This year, the Institute partnered with student clubs and sponsor Accenture Strategy to host 10 sessions featuring 40 speakers.

Opening with a Call to Action

Dean of INSEAD Ilian Mihov opened SDG Week 2022 by highlighting the need for sustainability solutions. Putting the COP27 UN Climate Change conference in focus, he said, “Let’s hope that this COP will bring us more action to stop climate change. Climate change is a global problem, and we have to use our global network to find solutions.”

Following this strong call to action, Co-Founder of EcoVadis Pierre-Francois Thaler MBA'99D delivered a keynote address. Given the need for global solutions to the climate crisis, he spoke on how the customer has power to effect change. "What can push businesses to change? Not NGOs, nor investors. The biggest drivers are customers! At EcoVadis we use the power of rankings to drive behavioural change,” he explained. This session was co-organised with the INSEAD LifeLongLearning.

The next session, ‘Climate Run: Tech Companies Fighting Climate Change’, was organised by the INSEAD Climate Run team (Aakrit Mittal, Izzaldin Soerono Palkan Chavda, Shloka Sajdeh, and Shubhangi Aggarwal). Panel moderator and Associate Professor of Strategy Chengyi Lin reminded us that "As we talk about business changes, we need to look at and understand how everything – climate, biodiversity and social issues – is interconnected."


The notion of interconnection was brought up again as day one of SDG Week closed with the authors of The Systems Work of Social Change, Cynthia Rayner MBA'07J and Dr François Bonnici. On the Europe Campus for a workshop and book signing, the authors spoke to the need to solve immediate problems while creating systems to allow everyone to be part of change. They noted that barriers to change include complexity, scale and depth. Against this backdrop, Bonnici issued a strong call to action with inspiring optimism, saying “In any position you can make a change. You don’t need to wait until you’re in a position of power.”

Exploring the Sustainability Space

The second day was the busiest with five events. Two in-person events on Asia Campus, kicked off with a talk on ‘Leadership Has No Gender’ organised with the INSEAD Women Business Club (Evgenia Vasilyeva and Radhika Jadavji). This panel discussed the influence of allies and mentors in developing leadership skills. Jadeh Grierson from Accenture highlighted that sometimes having non-formal mentorship is just as important as a formal relationship. A panel on ‘Investing Inclusion’ followed, organised with Sharon Brooks, Executive Director INSEAD Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the Women In Business Club, Africa Club and Outsead. Speakers shared how strong leadership is essential to advancing DEI initiatives and ensuring accessibility.

That same day, SDG Week celebrated the launch of the ninth edition of the Global Talent Competitiveness Index, The Tectonics of Talent – Is the World Drifting Towards Increased Talent Inequalities. Authored by INSEAD Distinguished Fellow Bruno Lanvin and Professor Felipe Monteiro, and in partnership with Portulans Institute, Anna Henry and sponsored by the Human Capital Leadership Institute, this annual benchmarking report measures how countries and cities grow, attract and retain talent. The 2022 edition examines data from 175 cities and 79 economies in 133 countries around the world. This session highlighted Singapore’s position as the only Asian country in the GTCI Top 20, despite the region driving global growth. Doris Sohmen-Pao of the Human Capital Leadership Institute offered insight into why Singapore ranked so highly, saying “Singapore is constantly upgrading education… Most importantly, the lifelong learning effort encourages all Singaporeans to upskill."


Dr Vinika Devasar Rao then chaired a session on 'Climate Change – Impact on Africa' organised with the INSEAD Africa Initiative (supported by Jean Lim) and the Africa Club (Ekpedeme Inyang and Edem Amenuvor). James Mwangi of the Climate Action Platform for Africa (CAP-A) emphasised that "African countries are at the bottom of every single value chain and it will be disproportionately impacted by climate change. We need investment that translates into resilience and growth. The renewable energy potential in Africa is huge and unrealized”. The day finished with a practical session on careers at the United Nations and the value an INSEAD MBA can bring to international development, organised with the INSEAD Career Development Centre.

Transformation in Focus

The third and final day opened with a session on 'EdTech in Europe: Exploring how the industry can bridge the gap in education for underserved communities' organised with INDEVOR (Sarah Kreik and Liyun Wang). The panel included Revisely and Anywyse founders, who participated in the research of this year’s Hoffmann Institute sponsored INSEAD Summer Start-Up Tour team ‘No Student Left Behind’. They spoke on how EdTech innovation can create long-lasting, positive and sustainable change

SDG Week concluded with a packed Amphi De Vitry for a final session on ‘Exploring New Business Models for a Sustainable Economy’ organised with the Environment & Business Club (Yann Gourio, Mattijs Van Miert, Nicolas Sedez). This session discussed degrowth, the need to transform development and shaping sustainable economies. Researcher Timothée Parrique, gave a stark message, saying “It was a mistake to think we could keep growing and through technology we would make growth green and sustainable. There is very little likelihood that this will work.”


Carole Davies-Filleur, Managing Director Sustainability and Technology at Accenture, highlighted that “the question for large corporations is not ‘why’ should we engage in sustainability transformation, but ‘how’." One company that is truly delivering value to business and society is Patagonia. General Manager EMEA Matthijs Visch explained: "We at Patagonia are not about growth, we grow but we are not working our way backwards from earnings to share. For too many companies’ growth is the priority and sustainability is just a hobby."

So what was the main takeaway from not only this session but the entirety of SDG Week 2022? Throughout all the thought provoking and inspiring talks, the next generation of INSEAD graduates heard it over and over again. Every action counts.


1,320 students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends registered for INSEAD SDG Week 2022. Sessions are available for viewing here. Thank you to all the student clubs, our sponsor Accenture, all speakers, support staff and everyone who joined INSEAD SDG Week.

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