Sustainable Business Examples from Around the World – Australia, Malaysia and Ukraine

As businesses become more and more engaged in sustainability around the world, we are presented with an increasing range of examples of active companies. However, when I speak with students and faculty, they say that they often hear about the same examples from the same international companies over and over again.

In an attempt to share some new best practice examples, I asked a handful of faculty members from around the world about their favourite classroom examples of local companies that are actively involved in sustainability. Here are some examples from Australia, Malaysia and Ukraine.

 

Nicola Pless, University of South Australia, Australia

Jurlique, an international luxury cosmetics company based in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia, has been pursuing an entirely sustainable production process based on biodynamic agriculture and an anthroposophic philosophy from its start. The company was founded by Ulrike Klein and her husband in the early eighties and is built on a vision to inspire people to well-being, through purity, integrity and care (for self, others, and the planet) – based on awareness and passion. 95% of their pure-plant based ingredients are grown on their certified biodynamic farms in the Adelaide Hills providing the basis for the purest and natural skin care for customers to enjoy.

 

Haigh’s chocolates was founded in May 1915 and is a boutique-style, high-end and iconic chocolate maker from Adelaide that grows sustainably with a vision to delight chocolate lovers around the world. Haigh’s is the only Australian bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturer to have achieved UTZ certification, which stands for sustainable farming of coffee, cocoa and tea with better opportunities for farmers, their families and the planet.

 

Priya Sharma, Monash University Malaysia, Malaysia

Earth Heir is a social enterprise, that began with the desire to reduce the exploitation of craftspeople and help them prosper directly from their labour. Bringing humanity to business, Earth Heir helps vulnerable communities such as the Orang Asli (natives) sell their craft works fairly and ethically so that they may achieve sustainable livelihoods.

 

Biji-Biji Initiative is a pioneering social enterprise in Malaysia that champions sustainability. The organisation maintains a sharp focus on operational efficiency, people development, investment analysis, and building, partnerships across public, corporate and NGO sectors. It focuses on building valuable products from waste, such as bags from discarded seatbelts and championing sustainable living.

 

Svitlana Kyrylchuk, Lviv Business School of Ukrainian Catholic University, Ukraine

Walnut House is a social enterprise started by one of our alumni. The company offers catering services and a bakery and gives 40% of the income to the social projects of the Walnut House Fund and to support the Center of Integral Care for Women in Crisis. Over 90 women have found shelter in the «Walnut House», with over 80% managing to recover and make a new start in life.

 

Kormotec the a leading company of Ukrainian market of prepared animal feeds. Social responsibility is one of their core values. Since 2013, the company has implemented projects that teach humane attitude towards animals among schoolchildren and adults; provided support to shelters in different regions; promote professional development of Ukrainian veterinary healthcare system. Kormotech also develops infrastructure of the local communities around its production facilities.

Laska Store is a charity shop that sells clothes made by Kyiv designers as well as selling clothes given for charity by friends and friends’ friends. You can give any item of clothing driven by the idea of conscious charity. Laska was acknowledged as “The Best Ukrainian Social Project” in 2015. Also this project is in the top-ten business-ideas for sustainable development “STALO”.

 

An Overview of MOOCs offered by United Nations Agencies (Part 3 of 3)

Every year there is an increase in the number of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) available on sustainability topics. These courses are available for free online and open to anyone with an interest in the topic, lasting between three and fourteen weeks and taking three to eight hours per week to complete. But Universities are not the only organisations offering these MOOCs. A growing number of UN agencies are developing MOOCs as a way of not only raising awareness about the issues that they focus on, but also training individuals around the world who are working on these sustainability issues and the SDG on the ground. Most of the courses are self-paced and available in multiple language. (Click here to read Part 1 which focused on UNWomen, World Bank and IMF or  Part 2 which focused on UNITAR, FAO, UNFMEA and UN.)

 

Most of the UN initiatives do not have their own online learning platforms and instead offer courses on various platforms and often in partnership with different organisations. This makes them a bit trickier to find so it is worth signing up for the newsletters of the initiatives you are most interested to get more up to date information.

For example, current courses offered by UNESCO include:

  • Inequalities in Latin America and the Caribbean: This course, which is also available in Spanish, addresses the current regional landscape of inequalities, warns of its dramatic consequences, and offers transformative strategies that can be designed to improve social policies and public management.
  • Climate Justice Lessons from the Global South: This course will deal with some of the key issues related to the ethical dimensions implied by climate change – learning especially from the problems faced as well as the resilience models formulated by the marginalized sectors of society or the so-called “Global South”.

 

United Nations University currently has a course in partnership with The Nature Conservancy that aims to build awareness of the importance of Mangroves to healthy ecosystems and human communities. This multi part course is designed to build expertise in mangrove biology, ecology, assessment, management, and restoration and is predominantly aimed at young academics, professionals, managers, and any other interested individuals, especially from developing countries

 

Specific UN initiatives also offer a range of e courses to help partners in the implementation of their frameworks. For example the UN-REDD Programme (UN Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) provides a range of 12 courses in English, French and Spanish that cover the topic of forests, carbon sequestration and climate change.

 

The UN Environment Programme’s Environment Academy usually offers online courses. At the moment they are offering:

  • From Source to Sea to Sustainability:This course will offer a holistic conceptual and practical approach to the issue of land based sources of pollution and their impacts, covering the scientific basics of nutrient cycling and pollution impacts, methodologies and assessment tools, financial mechanisms to protect our waters, policy and governance issues, as well as technologies for turning waste into resources.

 

Last but not least, the UN Global Compact offers some courses in collaboration with other partners including:

  • Ethical Cities: A course developed in collaboration with RMIT University and Future Learn, it introduces the notion of the ethical city and examines it from the perspective of ethical leadership, urban development and planning, ethical local business and engaged, ethical citizenry.
  • Human Rights and Business: This learning tool provides an introduction and overview to human rights for a business audience, developed in collaboration with UN Human Rights.

An Overview of MOOCs offered by United Nations Agencies (Part 2 of 3)

Every year there is an increase in the number of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) available on sustainability topics. These courses are available for free online and open to anyone with an interest in the topic, lasting between three and fourteen weeks and taking three to eight hours per week to complete. But Universities are not the only organisations offering these MOOCs. A growing number of UN agencies are developing MOOCs as a way of not only raising awareness about the issues that they focus on, but also training individuals around the world who are working on these sustainability issues and the SDG on the ground. Most of the courses are self-paced and available in multiple language. (Click here for Part 1 on UNWomen, World Bank and IMF – Part 3 will be posted next week).

UN CC: e-Learn offers free online climate change courses. Each course is developed in collaboration with different UN agencies depending on the specific topic. Courses are available in eight languages and are all self-paced and take approximately an hour to complete. Courses include:

  • Human Health and Climate Change: This course, in partnership with the World Health Organisation, provides an introduction to the health challenges, as well as the opportunities, that can by associated to climate change.
  • Cities and Climate Change: This course, developed in collaboration with UN-Habitat, focuses on climate change in urban areas, covering how cities are affected by climate change, how they contribute to it, as well as how they plan for it.It contains one module which takes around 2 hours to complete.
  • Introductory e-Course on Climate Change: This course, developed in collaboration with UNITAR, provides “everything you need to know” about the basics of climate change, from climate change science to governance.
  • Children and Climate Change: This course, developed in collaboration with UNICEF, presents how children and youth can be impacted by climate change, how their resilience to climate change can be strengthened, and how they can act on climate change.

 

AGORA is UNICEF’s global hub for learning and development. Courses are available in six language including Chinese, French, Arabic and Portuguese. You need to sign up in order to view the courses but there are dozens covering the whole range of focus areas that UNICEF covers including

  • Child Rights and Why They Matter: This short course will transform and/or refresh your understanding of child rights and a child rights approach, introduce you to UNICEF’s mandate as it relates to child rights, and inspire you to apply a child rights lens to your everyday work and life.
  • Performance Assessment at UNICEF: How should we assess individual performance? And when should we assess individual performance? In order to increase our impact as a results-based organization, we need to apply a consistent approach to individual performance assessment. This course aims to help you understand how and when to effectively assess individual performance at UNICEF.
  • Introduction to Ethics in Evidence Generation: In this course, you will explore the importance of Ethical Evidence Generation at UNICEF, the principles and requirements of the UNICEF Procedure for Ethical Standards in Research, Evaluations and Data Collection and Analysis and how this applies to the work that is undertaken across the organization.

UNICEF also provides MOOCs in collaboration with Universities and available on commonly used MOOC platforms. For example Social Norms, Social Change is a 2 part courses developed in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania that looks at social norms, the rules that glue societies together. It teaches how to diagnose social norms, and how to distinguish them from other social constructs, like customs or conventions. These distinctions are crucial for effective policy interventions aimed to create new, beneficial norms or eliminate harmful ones. The course teaches how to measure social norms and the expectations that support them, and how to decide whether they cause specific behaviours.

 

InforMEA.leaning is part of the United Nations information portal on multilateral environmental agreements. It has a range of courses on agreements relating to biological diversity, chemicals and waste, climate, international law, and oceans and freshwater. Courses include:

 

UNITAR offers a range of free courses including

  • Conflict Analysis: This one-day course looks at conflict including what it is, sources of conflict, complexities of conflict, evolution and the different actors involved.
  • Human Rights and the Environment: This 3 hour self-paced course provides a general introduction to the relationship between human rights and the environment including procedural and substantive obligations relating to the environment.
  • Mainstreaming the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: This course provides an in-depth and wide ranging guidance on how to mainstream the 2030 Agenda into national strategies and policies with case studies.

 

The FAO E-learning Centre has a range of courses including a demo class if you want to test out their format. The catalogue is extensive and includes courses on the SDGs that the FAO is focused on (in particular SDG 2 Zero Hunger) including:

An Overview of MOOCs offered by United Nations Agencies (part 1 of 3)

Every year there is an increase in the number of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) available on sustainability topics. These courses are available for free online and open to anyone with an interest in the topic, lasting between three and fourteen weeks and taking three to eight hours per week to complete. But Universities are not the only organisations offering these MOOCs. A growing number of UN agencies are developing MOOCs as a way of not only raising awareness about the issues that they focus on, but also training individuals around the world who are working on these sustainability issues and the SDG on the ground. Most of the courses are self-paced and available in multiple languages. (Part 2 will be posted next week)

 

The UN Women Training Centre offers a range of courses in English, Spanish, French and Arabic, all free of charge. Courses are either self-paced, have fixed set dates and many of them can be customized for specific audiences. Many of the courses focus in on Sustainable Development Goal
5 on Gender Equality as well as Gender issues which are an important part across all of the SDGs. The self-paced courses take approximately 50 minutes to complete and current courses include:

  • Women’s Leadership and Decision Making: This course provides an introduction to the concepts, international framework, and methods for working toward gender equality and women’s empowerment. It also offers users the opportunity to make links between gender and specific thematic areas such as work; education; political participation; emergencies; peace and security; sexual and reproductive health; sexual and gender diversity and human rights; and violence against women.
  • Gender Equality in the World of Work: This course provides an introduction to the concepts, international framework, and methods for working toward gender equality and women’s empowerment. It also offers users the opportunity to make links between gender and specific thematic areas such as work; education; political participation; emergencies; peace and security; sexual and reproductive health; sexual and gender diversity and human rights; and violence against women.

 

The World Bank Open Learning Campus aims to provide learning that will build the leadership and technical capabilities of all development stakeholders-partners, practioners, policy makers, staff and the public. It offers a range of courses, also in several languages. You can choose from courses that are facilitated online or self paced. Courses include:

  • Introduction to the Global Environment Facility: This e-course provides an overview of the GEF, a unique international organization that is dedicated to safeguarding the global environment.
  • Introduction to the World Bank’s Environmental and Social Framework for External Audiences: This self paced courses provides an overview of the Bank’s Environmental and Social Framework which sets out the mandatory requirements for the World Bank and for Borrowers to address environmental and social risks and impacts in investment projects.
  • Fundamentals of Disaster Risk Finance: This course looks at how governments have to make difficult trade-offs in the aftermath of a disaster. Gain key insights into a range of innovative Disaster Risk Finance (DRF) projects across the globe.
  • Basics of Health Economics: Health economics play an important role in making health systems more effective, efficient, and equitable. This e-Learning course provides the foundations for participants to better understand health economics and its potential contribution to decision making in the health sector.
  • Greenhouse Gas Accounting 101: Accounting for GHG emissions allows the World Bank and its clients to estimate the impact of projects on GHG emissions early in the project cycle. This knowledge can help task teams and client countries mainstream climate change mitigation action in the project design, and thus is a key step in managing and reducing GHG emissions in a cost-effective manner.

 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) provides its courses on IMFx again free of charge and available in several languages. Its courses focus on financial stability, international trade and sustainable economic growth. Current offerings include:

  • Debt Sustainability Analysis: This course explores what tools can be used to assess debt sustainability and how countries can effectively manage their sovereign debt with a range of hands on exercises and theories.
  • Financial Programming and Policies: Available in English, French, Spanish and Russian, this course looks at the macroeconomic accounts, their interrelationship, and the analysis of economic development.

Engaging Students in Sustainability Projects – The PRME Innovation Challenge

While embedding sustainability teaching into the curriculum at all levels and in all programmes is crucial, even more important, and popular with students and teachers alike, are opportunities for students to put that knowledge into practice. When students are given the opportunity to give insights to real life sustainable development challenges involving a real global company, even better.

The PRME Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Student Engagement Platform led by the PRME Secretariat has recently launched a new Innovation Challenge (the Challenge) for teams of students aimed at Advanced PRME Signatory Institutions. I spoke with the PRME Secretariat about the Student Engagement Platform about this latest challenge.

 

Why was the Challenge organised?

Here at the Secretariat we are always looking for ways to engage students to connect with both the SDGs and with companies actively seeking solutions to their challenges. We believe that companies are slowly starting to see that PRME Signatory students are an important untapped resource when it comes to sustainability and more companies are looking to work with us to tap into the innovative ideas students offer.

Over the past few years we have had a few opportunities for teams of students to not only connect but to actually contribute to strengthening the sustainability strategies of UN Global Compact companies. For example, during last years Breakthrough Innovation Challenge seven companies defined seven real-life challenges and seven student teams engaged with them to build sustainable business models and solutions powered by disruptive technologies.

Who is the business partner?

For this Challenge we are working with Manitou Group (Manitou). Manitou is a world-leader in design, manufacture, distribution and servicing of all-terrain, material-handing equipment for construction, agriculture, mining and industrial applications. They are looking to become sustainability leaders with objectives that include having 100% of new projects include eco design criteria. They are expanding the amount of revenue they derive from re-manufactured or reused parts and moving towards reducing the total cost of ownership by focusing instead on product service systems. To learn more about their CSR strategy click here.

 

What is the Challenge?

Manitou Group has proposed two challenges focused on SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and 13 (Climate Action). Teams of students are given a range of questions to answer in relation to these challenges. Based on the response, two winning teams will be selected. They will then get the chance to work with Manitou virtually between the 1st of November and the 30th of April on their ideas and projects. On the 14th of May they will submit their final recommendations to the company and will then get the chance to present those final recommendations at Manitou corporate headquarters in Wisconsin, USA on the 7th of June.

 

What are the specific challenges?

There is a choice of two challenges that student teams can choose from. The first involves Manitou’s REDUCE programme. In this programme, Manitou has developed tools focused on reducing their machines’ environmental footprints. The challenge they are facing is that they need to change the mind-set of both their internal and external customers to switch from the acquisition price to full services and solutions with a total cost of ownership benefits mind-set. They are looking for students to provide some insights on that.

The second challenge involves the company’s efforts to reduce their supply chain eco-footprint and identify all the factors necessary to improve it, such as optimization of transportation, materials input, returnable packaging etc. They are looking for students teams to work on the optimization of the transportation, looking at consolidating orders/cargo from multiple manufacturing facilities and identify the criteria that Manitou should use to measure what eco-friendly transportation means.

More details about these challenges can be found here.

 

How do schools participate?

Any school that is an Advanced PRME Signatory institution can take part in the challenge. Students must be organised into teams that consist of no more than 4 undergraduate or graduate students. Teams should come from different disciplines. There is no maximum allowed number of teams per school.

 

What is the deadline?

Teams that are interested should register online by 15th September. Submissions are then due on 1st October. On 31st October we will announce the selected student teams who will then work with Manitou. Keep an eye out for the PRME Signatory newsletter for information about future Innovation Challenges.

Empowering Female Entrepreneurs in Ukraine – Lviv Business School


Lviv Business School
of Ukrainian Catholic University, Ukraine, launched a programme aimed at providing skills to female entrepreneurs. Their aim is to  develop new, or further develop existing female-led businesses across the country. I spoke with Svitlana Kyrylchuk who works at the Business School about this programme and the impact it has already had in the country. 

 

Why did you decide to start a Women’s Leadership Programme?

Ukrainian women own 22-23% of small and medium-sized enterprises and only 2% of big ones. As involving of women is fundamental for democratic government, it is important that these numbers increase. This means empowering more women to be able to start and grow their businesses. We believe that we can have a significant impact in increasing these numbers through educational programmes and public discussions on the topic of women’s leadership here in the Ukraine.

What is the Women’s Leadership Programme?

Lviv Business School of UCU (LvBS) and the Center for Leadership of UCU have developed an educational programme called «Women’s Leadership and Change Management». The programme is aimed at women-leaders from business, public and non-profitable sectors. This variety of students creates a special dynamics and synergy within one group and also establishes partnerships between different sectors.

The programme is based on the concept «Leadership based on character» that was developed by several researchers in Canada from Ivey Business School. According to this concept, leadership involves a character that is made up of 11 virtues and competencies. This can be divided into four categories: organizational, human, strategic, and business competencies, as well as commitment. The participants use this model to analyze their actions and behavior in order to develop their values and virtues.

The programme is practice-oriented and we focus on using case studies to teach the students. We believe that only through studying real examples can participations start to understand the role of a leader’s values to the utmost. The programme also includes several case studies from Ukrainian leadership research that has been undertaken by the Center for Leadership here which help students to understand the peculiarities of Ukrainian leadership and compare it to the leadership in other countries. For instance, according to this research, Ukrainian leaders mostly underestimate virtues such as accountability and humility, so in this programme much attention is focused on their study and analysis.

What do you hope to achieve through the programme? What have you achieved so far?

Throughout the programme we cover a range of topics including but not limited to character development, personal branding, networking and negotiating. The focus is on building the different competencies that are essential for a true leader. Since 2016 we have held 6 Women Leadership programmes that have involved 200 participants from across the country. In November last year the programme won the award of top 3 new management programmes at a Management executive and Professional Development conference in the US which we are very proud of.

What have been some of the challenges?

We didn’t have any difficulties with the program. The challenges are more focused on the difficulties for business women in Ukraine in general and what impact we can have on changing that. For example, recent research from the Center for Leadership of UCU looked at the differences of emotional intellect between men and women entrepreneurs. Preliminary results show that the differences in emotional intellect between men and women are minor. In particular, this is true when it comes to traits such as vocation, self-effectiveness and persistency. Despite this, Ukrainian women are seen as being less able to start and succeed in business than men. This is something we are hoping to change.

What have been some of the successes?

Among the program’s graduates there are successful women-entrepreneurs, administrators and leaders of social projects and non-governmental organizations. Some of our alumni include the founder of a social enterprise that recycles flowers from ceremonial events and uses the proceeds to finance charity projects called «Flowery Happiness». Another is the Chief Operating Officer of «Teple Misto», an innovative platform for creating opportunities and social transformations in Ivano-Frankivsk city. Other alumni have prominent roles at Transparency International, in national government and at the National Bank of Ukraine. One of the brightest, most active and determined participants of the program is Maryana Petrash, who is one of the co-founders of the initiative «Woman for Woman». This is a social project founded in 2017 to support and revive «The Walnut House» (Center of Integral Care for Women in Crisis). The project aims to raise money to restore the building in Lviv where the center for women has to be located and drawing more attention to its activities.

What’s next for the initiative?

As the program is in big demand, especially in Ukrainian context, we continue holding it twice a year.

What about female leadership in Lviv? What kinds of initiatives does your business school have and what is the state of women leadership within the School?

Sophia Opatska, the Founding Dean of Lviv Business School of Ukrainian Catholic University, is now UCU’s Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs. In the ten years since its founding, Lviv Business School, under the leadership of Sophia, has developed from a small start-up company to a truly successful institution with European values which is educating a responsible business community within Ukraine. Starting with only one program, the Key Executive MBA, in 2008, we have now developed to 4 master programs (Key Executive MBA, MSc in Technology Management, MA in Human Resources and Organization Development and MSc in Innovations) and up to 20 open-enrollment programs of Executive Innovation run every year in different cities of Ukraine. Much has been achieved so far and even more is to be done, but this time led by a new CEO, who is also a woman.

Preparing SDG Leaders through an Multidisciplinary Masters – University of Pretoria

Africa needs development practitioners in government, business and civil society who understand the complexity of development challenges and who have the leadership capacities to design and implement the integrated and multidisciplinary Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In response to this, the Albert Luthuli Centre for Responsible Leadership at the University of Pretoria in South Africa created the Master’s in Development Practice. Willem Fourie, the coordinator of this programme as well as the SDG Hub featured a few weeks ago on PRiMEtime, shared more details on this interdisciplinary programme and the impact they hope to have across the continent.

Introduce your new Degree programme and why it is unique.

We’re glad to be able to launch Africa’s first interdisciplinary postgraduate degree on the implementation of the SDGs. The Master’s in Development Practice at the University of Pretoria (MDP@UP) will equip participants with the leadership skills and interdisciplinary competence that should assist with realising the SDGs in their respective contexts.

Why have it?

Most universities’ postgraduate degrees focus on specialisation in one field. In the SDG era we also need degrees that broaden students understanding of a number of fields. The MDP@UP wants to equip participants with the foundational knowledge in health sciences, social sciences, management sciences and environmental sciences, coupled with the appropriate leadership skills.

The Albert Luthuli Centre for Responsible Leadership at the University of Pretoria hosts the national SDG Hub – a resource aimed at strengthening evidence-informed policy making around the SDGs. We realised the need to also build the appropriate capacity by means of postgraduate education, which is why we have developed the degree.

How is the degree organized?

We focus on participants already in full-time employment, and to this end we’re using a rather innovative flipped-classroom approach. Participants will be exposed to theory by means of online learning experiences, facilitated by our expert faculty. This will form the basis for engagement with experts and fellow participants and immersion in real-life developmental challenges during high-intensity contact weeks. Their research project will centre on identifying, describing and interpreting a complex and interdisciplinary developmental challenge in their work environment.

Our expert academic faculty members are from a range of academic departments at the university. Experts from the private sector, multilateral organisations, governments and civil society will also participate in the sessions during the contact weeks.

Explain more about the interdisciplinary nature of the programme and how that is being facilitated.

Participants will be exposed to foundational theory in health sciences, social sciences, management sciences and environmental sciences. This will form the basis for both their leadership service learning course, as well as the case study write-up. The integration of different disciplines will be facilitated especially by two elements of the programme: immersion and assessment. Immersion refers to participants’ exposure to real life examples of development practice. They will be enabled to reflect on the relevance of a wide variety of disciplines in each of the immersion experiences. And during their assessment, participants – both individually and in groups – will be challenged to design multidisciplinary solutions.

What have been the challenges of organising an interdisciplinary programme on the SDGs? Successes so far?

This programme of course challenges the conventional ways in which we organise universities. But we were fortunate to get the support of our Executive and fantastic faculty members quite early on.

Who is the programme aimed at?

We’re interested in participants who hail from Africa and who have been working for at least five years.

Any tips for other schools interested in doing something similar?

Only one thing: give it a try, and persevere!

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