The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are everywhere! Leaders are talking about them, businesses are increasingly using them to report impact, and 2020 kick starts the decade of action to deliver on the goals by 2030. During his visit to INSEAD, David Nabarro, Professor of Global Health at Imperial College, and special advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, mentioned that the SDGs are, “the plan for the future of the world.”
To highlight their importance and why every INSEAD student and participant should be familiar with what they mean for business, the Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society, in collaboration with student clubs, organised the first INSEAD SGD Week - a three-day series of talks, workshops and exhibitions focusing on four SGDs related to the Earth’s biosphere.
Covering the school’s Europe and Asia campus, a total of fourteen interactive sessions with 1,369 registrants were held, addressing topics from the circular economy, responsible supply chains, to the future of smart construction. Kicking off the SDG Week, Professor Atalay Atasu explored the fundamentals of the circular economy movement and their implications in the business world. In related sessions, Professor Spencer Harrison and guests explored how dirty innovations can help save the planet and students organized a workshop on how to unleash creativity for sustainability.
Giving the keynote session, Pavan Sukhdev, the WWF International President, Goodwill Ambassador for UN Environment and member of INSEAD’s Hoffmann Institute Advisory Board, spoke at length about measuring SDG impacts, and the role, framework and methodologies businesses can adopt. Zooming into specific issues, Luke van Wassenhove and the Humanitarian Research Group (HRG) unpacked the challenge of going child labour free in cocoa supply chains, and Prashant Yadav discussed how to solve the world’s sanitation crisis through novel financing instruments.
In addition to screening “NATURA,” for Fontainebleau residents in the local theatre, and holding impact career conversations (also open to local high-schoolers), the week offered an opportunity for the presentation of new cases such as Rainforest Gold and ENEL’s Innovability. Talking about the role of business in a similar vein, Pei Kang, Founder and CEO of TRIA, shared about sustainability being a top-down decision, and the need for it to be integrated into the organisational process of value creation and innovation.
Coinciding with the annual INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Programme (ISEP), the SDG Week featured a special session with Debbie Aung Din and Jim Taylor, Founders of Proximity Designs. Having first-hand experience in building a cutting-edge venture with sustainable and scalable impact, they spoke of their challenges in delivering affordable products and services to smallholder farmers, and how sustainability is no longer an issue to be ignored by companies.
By bringing thinkers and leaders working on the SDGs together with students, faculty and staff, participants were able to discuss solutions that bring us closer to achieving the goals. As a result, they were able to explore smart new ways of doing business that are good for the people and the planet.