Hi Jason F, I was really impressed by the great example your team at ASU shared about partnering with the City of Phoenix on circular economy and waste opportunities at the Net Impact conference. Can you share a bit about how that’s creating demand for entrepreneurs and innovation and supporting the community too?
A4: They have to understand their own demand for training in this arena. The “We Are Still In” movement indicates that Biz has some understanding of the demand in order to protect their own sustainability. Some have pointed to GM’s recent restructuring as a positive move towards corporate sustainability by understanding its long term interests around electronic vehicles and shared mass transit. Companies are facing some tipping points and having to make hard choices. We certainly see that with waste companies in the face of the China plastic bans. By training their sustainability staff and developing corporate cultures that embrace and encourage a sustainability ethos will go far in terms of stemming fear and encouraging board and investor patience. As higher ed institutions, we can provide that training and research to support those goals. But this is done through partnership. As we all know, no single entity can do this alone.
To get a bit more specific on this question: What kind of signals would help educational institutions to respond further to the business demand for sustainable development skills and knowledge?
I just think the demand has to be much, much more specifiic than ‘sustainable development skills’ as it would not be clear to most people what those are. Certainly the big picture mindset shift conversation is important, but it can’t be the only way we tackle this, nor can ‘sustainability’ courses, either standalone or as part of MBAs. Are we talking about labor rights, clean energy, green buildings, next generation governance, AI and human rights? If we can’t articulate this then the conversation remains circular…
Thanks, Jason W. Yes, we work with the City of Phoenix and their Public Works department to help drive economic development through their waste collection. They were given a mandate from City Council and then-Mayor Greg Stanton (recently elected to US House of Reps) to get the city’s diversion rate from 14% to 40% by 2020. The Public Works dept turned to us in search of some solutions to how they could get there and with them we established the Resource Innovation and Solutions Network, or RISN. Since the mandate in 2012, Phoenix is now nearing 30% diversion and we have created a business accelerator to drive new ventures around circular economy using the city’s waste streams as a resource. The RISN Incubators have already created more than 40 new positions and generated more than $3.2million in revenues.
Pearson collaborated with Nesta and Oxford University on the Future of Skills report (https://futureskills.pearson.com/) to help better understand what skills are going to be most in demand going forward. We found that in the age of artificial intelligence, automation and environmental and social challenges, many of the most important skills for business and the workforce are the same soft skills needed to advance sustainability. These include skills like: critical thinking, systems thinking, collaboration, having a global mindset. Our product team is working on assessing and improving how these are integrated into educational content and learning.
Thank you David for this question, I think we need some systemic changes in terms of the incentives, both on schools to focus on responsible management education and sustainability, as well as for professors to research and teach these issues.
We need to ensure that levers like rankings, journals, etc. integrate sustainability, so schools are ranked based on their sustainability programs as well, not only on how much is the salary of their graduates. Also, if top journals include more publications on sustainability, professors that are working towards their tenure are incentivized to write on these issues too, instead of having to publish on mainstream issues.
I feel we need to continue to make the business case and ensure that the right incentives are in place so everyone implements the SDGs not only those self-regulated and convinced that sustainability is the way forward.
That’s super cool! I can’t wait to read this
Fully agree with your comment Jason! This is a must.
I think the signals from businesses come from the enlightened leader who has a vision yet needs help, support, guidance, training, education to help the firm get there.
Thank you all for an excellent conversation. We’ll leave this discussion forum open: please do continue to share your ideas and examples. Thank you to all our panellists and to everyone who has joined us today.
To download our new report ‘The Role of Business in Education and Training for Sustainable Development’ see this page: https://businessfightspoverty.org/articles/the-role-of-business-in-eduction-for-sustainable-development/
Thanks Jason. It sounds like this is a really exciting program that involves great collaboration across sectors and engages the community. I love the example of how entrepreneurs are tackling the difficult issue of palm fronds in the waste stream by converting them into a more sustainable food source for agriculture.
Fully agree, this is key. We need to ensure that our graduates are prepared to be part of these ever faster transformation, by having the right set of skills an knowledge both hard and soft. This is essential for the type of innovation required by the SDGs.
Yes, thanks to all for a great discussion. Is there a chance of getting a transcript of this discussion? Lots of compelling, thoughtful ideas here. Thanks everyone.
Thank you to David and BFP, Jason W and Bianca at Pearson and all of the other partners and contributors to this report and all sustainability education efforts happening worldwide. It’s an honor to be a part of this.
Thank you so much David, panelist and participants! It has been a real pleasure to participate and look forward to reading the transcripts of this great conversation.
Thanks so much to our partners and everyone for the great collaboration and dialogue. We look forward to continuing the conversation and work together!
Join Jason to thank David, BFP, both Jason and Bianca. We are delighted to partner with all of you!
Jason F, it’s been great working with you and the other partners at BfP and PRME as well!
Thank you so much! Definitely great to work together with you too.