Partnering with Business Around the SDGs – BI Norwegian Business School

The Global Opportunity Explorer is an online database of sustainable solutions and market solutions rooted in over five years of research involving 18,000 business leaders and 17 expert panels. It is a partnership between a range of business and education partners working together with the UN Global Compact. BI Norwegian Institute was the first academic institutions to join this partnership in 2018. Inge Jan Henjesant, President of BI Norwegian Business School, shared additional information about this new business partnership around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

What is the Global Opportunity Explorer and how did it come about?

The Global Opportunity Explorer is a joint project of Sustainia, DNV GL and the UN Global Compact, created on the conviction that the SDGs (SDGs) offer a myriad of business opportunities with great value to companies, society and the environment.

Aside from mapping a world of cutting-edge innovation and new markets, the GO Explorer aims to help business leaders, entrepreneurs and investors connect with new partners, projects and markets to foster more partnerships for the SDGs and a greener and fairer world by 2030. The partnership is aligned with BI’s mission to co-create a more sustainable future, and now paves the way for other ambitious universities, business schools, and learning institutions across the globe.

What is BI’s role?

Businesses are increasingly incorporating sustainability goals and measures, and exploring new business opportunities and models that promote sustainable value creation. BI’s role in the GO Explorer is to be a driving force, educate and enable future business school graduates and leaders to understand how sustainability issues impact business practices, economic growth and consumption as well as policy-making and regulations.

Where do the solutions/ideas come from?

We believe that solutions must be found through the combination of research, best business practices, initiatives from our students and faculty and high ambitions on behalf of society at large. There are currently over 300 innovative solutions on the database. We invite the general public to also submit their solutions. We use six assessment criteria to assess whether they can be included in the database; whether they are readily available, commercially viable, have a direct positive environmental impact, improve quality of life, are innovative and are not from certain excluded industries such as gambling or weapons.

What have been some of the challenges of this collaborative project? Successes?

The collaboration has so far been inspiring and engaging and has given new insight on the challenges we are facing. We look forward to continue this journey together with the partners in order to contribute to innovation and value creation through sustainable business practices.

What advice would you have for other schools looking to partner with the GC and business on SDG related projects?

In the future, it is not sufficient for businesses only to focus on profitability and core operations. They need to account for a broader set of corporate social responsibility issues. By partnering up, schools will be part of a network enabling students to develop their skill-set, and given tools that can make them succeed in their future workplace.

What’s next?

On February 6th we hosted Global Opportunity 2019. This event focuses on turning climate risks into climate opportunities, showcasing innovative solutions with business potential. We discussed with business and political leaders how to take actions and achieve the ambitious goals. For more information see our website.

A few examples of solutions:

  • The Solar Kiosk E-HUBB is a self-contained modular structure that can be deployed fro a number of applications, from a restaurant to a refugee camp, in off-grid communities. Multiple kiosks can be connected to create a mini-grid or even rural mall leading to new employment opportunities.
  • Loop Rocks bridges supply and demand by enabling construction sites to utilise leftover materials via an app, saving time, money and resources.
  • WeFarm is a digital peer-to-peer service that connects smallholder farmers, enabling them to share information and receive crowd-sourced answers. If a farmer needs advice regarding harvesting methods or crops, they send a simple, free SMS to the local Wefarm number.

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