2016 Good Practices in Responsible Management Education (Part 1)

It is once again it’s time for PRiMEtime’s year-end review. 2016 was another exciting year with a lot of innovative new initiatives and approaches at business schools around the world embedding responsible leadership and sustainability into their programmes. PRiMEtime provides an extensive and growing database of examples from schools around the world on how to embed sustainability, ethics and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into management education as well as tips on how to move forward.

This year, 60 new articles were posted featuring over 143 examples from more than 65 schools in 38 countries. In this 2-part year-end post we review the examples featured this year, organized roughly around the SDGs, and what we have to look forward to next year. (Click on the links to read the full article).

SDG1SDG2SDG3The Hong Kong Polytechnic University has developed an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Business School and the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, call the Wellness Clinic. It provides preventive care programmes designed, promoted, administered and implemented by students. IEDC-Bled School of Management partnered with members of the UN Global Compact Local Slovenia to organize workshops around the theme of “Health promotion in the workplace as part of the corporate social responsibility and sustainable business development’.

For one week in March, EADA Business School’s campus transforms into a model refugee course where students taking the Managing Humanitarian Emergencies elective learn about the main components required to respond to humanitarian emergencies and extreme situations in general.

 

SDG4

La Trobe Business School (Australia), ISAE (Brazil), Audencia Nantes School of Management (France) and Hanken School of Economics (Finland) founded CR3+ Network, a new program that provides a supportive platform to build international collaboration and enables the four schools to work together to build capacity in responsible management education. In the USA, Western Michigan University (USA) partnered with Christ University in Bagalore in India to create an experiential experience to engage students in sustainability discussions in India. Reutlingen University in Germany shared their experiences with the Ethikum Certificate awarded to students who complete a number of special experiences and courses during their time at university. Hult International Business School shared their experiences integrating the SDGs into the core Business and Global Society course. Hult International Business School and Ashridge Business School also shared their experiences integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into their PRME Sharing Information on Progress Report. The University of St. Gallen and oikos work together to offer the PhD Fellowship Programme, a unique opportunity to support international PhD students writing their thesis on sustainability in economics or management.

PRiMEtime also explored a range of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) available on sustainability topics. These courses are free online and open to anyone with an interest in the topic. A series of posts provided an overview of the MOOCs available in the Spring (Part 1 and Part 2) and summer (Part 1 and Part 2).

 

SDG5

The American University of Beirut’s University for Senior Programme aims to redefine the role of older people in society by providing them opportunities to remain intellectually challenged and socially connected through a range of lectures, study groups, educational travel programmes, campus life and intergenerational activities. The American University of Beirut also paired up with Citi to provide crucial support and mentoring for female entrepreneurs in Lebanon and the MENA region with the goal of increasing their numbers significantly. Altis Postgraduate School of Business and Society in Italy introduced us to E4Impact, a special programme aimed at training a new class of African leaders who will be able to create jobs in the sustainability sector in their country.

 

SDG6SDG7

Ryerson University (Canada) designed a unique interdisciplinary programme that brings together faculty from all of the university’s six department called the Environmental Applied Science and Management (EnSciMan) with a focus on environmental management. In Italy, the University of Bologna’s Launch Pad aims to leverage the know-how of the hundreds of PhDs and post-docs studying at the university to facilitate its transformation into valuable products and services, many focused on social and environmental topics. PRiMEtime also looked at a range of global student networks engaged in sustainability that are active within and across business schools.

 

SDG8

Antwerp Management School’s ID@Work research programme aims to support organisations in attracting, developing and retaining employees with an intellectual disability. The Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience at the University of Wollongong is an educational programme that supports Indigenous students through high school and into university, employment or further education. Also in Australia, Deakin University has been exploring how to encourage and train more Indigenous Australians to become accountants (currently of the more than 180,000 Australian professional accounting body members, only 30 identify as Indigenous). The Northwest Aboriginal Canadians Entrepreneurs Programme at the University of Victoria Gustavson School of Business is a partnership between several organisations including regional and provision government to offer first class entrepreneurial learning to the Indigenous people of Northwest British Columbia with the aim to enhance the self sufficiency and full economic participation of Indigenous people

Training a New Generation of African Entrepreneurs – ALTIS and E4Impact

2-GraduationCeremony 2Sub-Saharan Africa is a region with enormous growth potential, but there are significant challenges to assure this growth is inclusive. In Africa, SMEs generate only 17% of the GDP and 30% of employment, while in OECD countries figures ram up to 50% and 60%, respectively. The «migration phenomenon» from the African continent is, in part, a consequence of the lack of local businesses able to generate sustainable employment opportunities and wealth for communities.

In response to this, ALTIS Postgraduate School of Business and Society launched E4Impact, a special MBA programme aimed at training a new class of African leaders who will be able to create jobs in the sustainable private sector in their countries. This perfectly fits ALTIS’ mission to foster impact entrepreneurship and management for sustainable development. I recently spoke with Jessica Vaghi, Communications Manager at E4Impact Foundation, about the impacts of this initiative.

What is the E4Impact MBA

E4Impact, launched in 2010, became a Foundation spin-off of Università Cattolica (ALTIS) in 2015 with the contribution of Securfin, Mapei, Salini-Impregilo, Always Africa Association, ENI and Bracco. The Foundation offers the Global MBA in Impact Entrepreneurship in collaboration with Università Cattolica and a local university from the host country. The first MBA was offered in Kenya in 2010; now it’s also offered in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Ethiopia.

The MBA is a unique 12-16 month executive program that guides active and aspiring entrepreneurs in starting or scaling their businesses, providing them simultaneously with an academic and business acceleration experience. It is comprised of a flexible blend of class lessons, distance learning, mentoring and networking events. Furthermore, participants are supported by a Business Coach: a dedicated business consultant that assists them in developing their business plan and establishing an industry network. There are also several occasions for participants to pitch their project to investors and the financial community in order to foster relationships of trust with these actors.

How did it come about?

Would-be entrepreneurs, owners of existing SMEs and successful impact entrepreneurs are hindered in various ways in Sub-Saharan Africa. They lack the business acumen necessary to have dialogue with financial institutions and struggle to find the structure and guidance to systematically test their ideas in the marketplace. Most MBA programs for African people are not aimed at entreprenuers and focus more on theory than on practice. African universities need to enhance their ability to offer educational programs for entrepreneurs, thus becoming a long-term driver of change.

The E4Impact MBA helps attenuate these problems and weakens the probability of collapse of new enterprises. It supports local universities in offering action-oriented entrepreneurial education and in becoming part of a pan-African system. The MBA is not an academic exercise, but applied learning, where entrepreneurs are guided in verifying the feasibility of their business project and in drafting an investor-ready business plan. The program is built around entrepreneurs’ business ideas and each academic module works on a particular aspect of running a business (Strategy, Marketing, Accounting & Finance, Operations, HR).

The first iteration of this course was set in Italy. In 2005, ALTIS launched an MBA program for African entrepreneurs. However, many students remained in Europe after the course instead of going back to their countries. Therefore, the program was moved to Sub-Saharan African countries and E4Impact was born with the goal of becoming the leading Pan-African university alliance for training and coaching a new generation of impact entrepreneurs capable of combining economic success with positive social impact.

What have been some of the challenges of E4Impact MBA? 

The biggest challenge has been finding an academic formula that suits not only to country’s context, but also to the entrepreneurs’ needs. The first two MBA editions in Kenya had a full-time formula. Although entrepreneurs liked the programme, it was soon clear that this wasn’t the right formula because they had no time to work on their businesses.

Moreover, the old editions followed a continental approach in the sense that people from all over Africa moved to Kenya to attend the MBA. However, creating a network around the entrepreneur and his/her business was not easy if he/she was out of the country.

In its third edition, E4Impact implemented its current academic formula: always aiming to assure students have an African CV that meets International standards.

The current formula is part-time (39 working days in class and distance learning modules) and has a country approach (participants are residents in the country where they attend the MBA). It enables entrepreneurs to keep on with their daily jobs while working on their business projects and helps establish a solid network of partners that are useful for business development, model testing and validation.

What about some of the successes? 

E4Impact counts 196 impact entrepreneurs under training and 185 already trained, 35% of which are women. We calculated that the 73% of alumni have a business in place and they provide 497 jobs.

There are seven local university partners: Tangaza University College (Nairobi), Catholic Institute of Business and Technology (Accra), University of Makeni, Uganda Martyrs University (Kampala), Centre de Recherche et d’Action pour la Paix (Abidjan), Saint Augustine University of Tanzania (Mwanza) and Institute Supérieur the Management (Dakar). E4Impact has trained 35 people among local university staff and professors; in 2017 this figure will rise to at least 63.

In 2012, E4Impact was the first non-American program awarded with the Ashoka Innovation University Award.

E4Impact’s greatest success, though, is represented by its entrepreneurs and their impact businesses. For example, Jacqueline Kiage, entrepreneur from the 2nd edition of the MBA in Kenya is the co-Founder of Innovation Eye Centre, a health social enterprise that offers high quality, affordable and accessible eye care services to the community in the South Western Region of Kenya and beyond. Osei Bobie, entrepreneur from the 2nd edition of the MBA in Ghana,is Chief Operation Officer & Founder of Farmers’ Hope, a Ghanaian enterprise that produces a potent and affordable organic fertilizer with local raw materials that improves the soil structure over long period of time. Similarly, Jody Ogana, entrepreneur from the 4th edition of the MBA in Kenya, is General Manager of The GoDown Arts Centre, a non-profit enterprise that provides the first Kenyan multi-disciplinary platform for arts, and there are many more.

How are these shared in Italy with students as well?

In 2012, E4Impact launched an internship program for students of the Università Cattolica in Milan to take part in the E4Impact programme. Twenty-four Italian students have already been sent to different African partner universities during the MBA academic year. They have assisted business coaches in his/her job and helped the African entrepreneurs transform their business ideas into bankable business plans. Some of the students also worked on their theses, developing case studies based on successful businesses of E4Impact impact entrepreneurs.

Given the relevance of the experience, E4Impact aims at extending the internship programme to students of other universities focused on sustainability and sustainable development.

What’s next for the initiative?

E4Impact aims to offer the MBA in at least 15 African countries by 2020. The final objective is to become the leading Pan-African alliance of universities focused on sustainability, able to support a growing basin of African impact entrepreneurs. In 2017, E4Impact MBA will be offered also in Ethiopia, Rwanda and South Africa; by 2020,in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Congo DR and Angola.

Thanks to its MBA, E4Impact facilitates the expansion of African and International SMEs oriented to sustainability in the sub-Saharan area. By matching them with reliable local entrepreneurs, E4Impact offers small businesses a low cost, low risk opportunity to enter African markets in countries where the MBA is offered.

E4Impact launched the first pilot project, “First-Step Africa,” in the 2014/2015 academic year with the Italian enterprise, SIPA, which is interested in exploring Ghana’s market of plastic containers. They are currently working with 5 companies and there are already 20 interested companies for the upcoming academic year.

SDGSDG8SDG11SDG17

Management Education and the United Nations

As an initiative established by the United Nations, PRME provides a range of opportunities for signatories to engage with a range of programmes throughout the UN system. This includes the wider “UN family” made up of the UN and its many affiliated programmes (e.g. UNDP, UNEP), funds (e.g. UNICEF), and specialised agencies (e.g. ILO, IMF, World Bank) each working on a different subset of sustainability issues globally and locally.

For example, signatories are invited and encouraged to engage in cross-programme projects relating to education and sustainable development including:

SDGSustainable Development Goals (SDG)

On 26 September 2015, all 193 Member States of the United Nations adopted a plan for achieving a better future for all—laying out a path over the next 15 years to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and protect our planet. At the heart of “Agenda 2030” are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 related targets that address the most important economic, social, environmental, and governance challenges of our time. These goals will help guide national government priorities, however it is the private sector that will be key to the success of each goal—through responsible business operations, new business models, investment, innovation and technology, and collaboration. For companies, successful implementation of the SDGs will strengthen the enabling environment for doing business and building markets around the world. Overall, the SDGs represent an unprecedented opportunity for business and academic institutions to align their own sustainability goals with goals for the broader society. Although the SDGs don’t officially begin until January 2016, now is the time to start exploring how to align curricula, projects, research, and partnerships and raising awareness about the goals on campus. For business updates on the SDGs, click here, for updates from PRME, click here, and stay tuned to PRiMEtime.

HESIHigher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI)

HESI was created by a consortium of UN entities (UNESCO, UNDESA, UNEP, Global Compact, PRME, and UNU) in the run up to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). Through HESI, higher education institutions commit to teach sustainable development concepts in their core curricula, conduct research on sustainable development issues, green their campuses and support sustainability efforts in the communities in which they are embedded. Although not specifically focused on management education, many PRME signatories are engaged.

The HESI network comes together regularly, most recently in October 2015 in Paris to discuss Higher Education for Climate Change Action. The event provided an opportunity to:

  • take stock of progress made since Rio+20 by sharing best practices and lessons learnt,
  • discuss the roles and responsibilities of higher education institutions in contributing to business and technological innovation around climate change adaptation and mitigation, and
  • encourage new or enhanced commitments, particularly around the facilitation of academic and scientific inputs into the formulation of climate policies.

The meeting resulted in the formulation of a message and a set of policy recommendations to be presented to the UNFCC Secretariat at COP21 in December 2015 in Paris.


UNESCO Global Action Plan on Education for Sustainable Development

gap-esd_logoBuilding on the momentum and increasing importance of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) beyond the International Decade for Sustainable Development (2005-2015), the Global Action Plan (GAP) seeks to generate and scale-up concrete actions arou
nd ESD in all levels and areas of education and learning
to accelerate progress towards sustainable development. In order to do this five priority action areas have been identified; mainstreaming ESD into educational and sustainable development policies, integrating sustainability principles into education and training settings, building capacities of educators and trainers, empowering and mobilising youth, and accelerating sustainable solutions at the local level. For more on the GAP, click here.

UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) coordinates a wide range of local, regional, and global projects around education for all, at all levels, and in all areas. For more, visit en.unesco.org. One of these projects is the Global Business Coalition for Education, which brings the business community together to accelerate progress in delivering quality education for all of the world’s children and youth.

For more on UN-related educational programmes and opportunities to engage, keep an eye out for notices in the PRME Newsletter.

2015 Good Practices in Responsible Management Education (Part 2)

It is once again time for PRiMEtime’s year-end review. 2015 was another exciting year with a lot of innovative new initiatives and approaches at business schools around the world to embedding responsible leadership and sustainability into their programmes. Sixty articles were posted featuring over 182 examples from more than 114 schools in 38 countries. In this 2-part year-end post we review what happened this year and what we have to look forward to next year. (Click here to view Part 1)

Principle 5Principle 5: Partnerships

A growing number of schools are partnering with local businesses to advance sustainability on campus and beyond. In fact, through a new project between Global Compact LEAD and PRME Champions many of these partnerships were highlighted this year including The American University in Cairo’s Women on Boards programme, the development of local sustainability networks by ESPAE, University of Guelph partnership around food, Novo School of Business and Economics’ partnership around children consumer behaviour and the University of Technology Sydney partnership around insurers role in sustainable growth. Additional resources were providing to assist schools in developing new partnerships including 5 Key Messages from Business to Business Schools Around Sustainability and 10 Tips.

Another feature focused on examples of schools engaging with local governments in Turkey, Brazil, Australia, US, UK and Latvia.

Principle 6Principle 6: Dialogue

Most of the examples presented through the year have also involved dialogue around responsible management topics, across the campus and beyond. As always, many posts featured Sharing Information on Progress Reports including an overview of the newly released Basic Guide to Sharing Information on Progress, as well as a two part series on visuals to get inspired by for your next SIP report.

A number of Sharing Information on Progress Reports were featured and celebrated this year including Reykjavik University’s first report, Ivey Business School’s experiences communicating the big picture through their SIP, the recipients of the Recognition of Sharing Information on Progress Reports were highlighted including KEDGE Business School.

Principle “7”: Organisational Practices

PRME signatories globally are increasingly active in creating more sustainable campuses. Coventry University shared their experiences in gaining sustainability accreditation in the UK. A two-part feature on sustainable buildings on campus highlighted a range of approaches being taken by schools around the world.

Last but not least, as businesses become more engaged in sustainability around the world, we are presented with an increasing range of examples of active companies to highlight in the classroom. Featured sustainable business examples collected from faculty in 2015 included:

Thank you for a fantastic 2015 and for contributing all of your good practice examples and stories. We encourage you to engage with the discussion and promotion of PRME and the Sustainable Development Agenda on all levels, including our Chapters and working Groups, as well as through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

2016 will be another exciting year in the field of management education and sustainability in particular through the Sustainable Development Goals and business-business school partnerships. If there are any topics in particular you would like to see covered, or you would like your initiatives to be featured, please do not hesitate to contact me at gweybrecht@thesustainablemba.com.

2015 Good Practices in Responsible Management Education (Part 1)

It is once again time for PRiMEtime’s year-end review. 2015 was another exciting year with a lot of innovative new initiatives and approaches at business schools around the world embedding responsible leadership and sustainability into their programmes. Sixty articles were posted over the year on responsible management education, featuring over 182 examples from more than 114 schools in 38 countries. In this 2-part year-end post we review what happened this year and what we have to look forward to next year.

Principle 1Principle 1: Purpose

2015 of course was the year of the PRME Global Forum. A post of student views on business as a force for good as well as what the future corporation will look like, highlighted the power of students in being innovative thought leaders. Several key documents were launched during the Forum and featured on PRiMEtime including The State of Sustainability and Management Education.

In September a call to action was made to higher education institutions to join in making a commitment to support refugees in crisis. The PRME community stepped up with a number of initiatives featured in this post. Two posts on Higher Education for Climate Change Action coincided with the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative meeting in October and featured a number of examples of business schools taking action around this important issue.

As the international community is preparing to launch the Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals in 2016, a growing focus of PRiMEtime and the wider PRME community has been understanding how business schools can engage in the process and contribute to achieving the goals once they are put in place. Several updates were posted including this overview and update.

Principle 2Principle 2: Values

As the sister initiative to the Global Compact, several Global Compact resources were featured including Finance and Sustainability Resources and Ways to Engage and a look at the building blocks for transforming business and changing the world. We also looked at a number of other resources available to the PRME community including ways that schools are using technology in the classroom to teach sustainability, a selection of MOOCs on Sustainability/Ethics for Fall 2015 as well as for Spring 2015.

Several posts featured International Days focused on highlighting and celebrating specific sustainability related topics. This included a look at how management education is engaging high school students in sustainable business for International Youth Day, schools engaged in sustainable energy projects for the International Year of Light, a two part feature on schools engaged in sustainable food for World Health Day, and women and management education for International Women’s Day

Principle 3Principle 3: Method

PRME schools shared their experiences in re-designing their programmes to embed sustainability more fully including Stockholm School of Economics, University of New South Wales, Jonkoping International Business School, and the University of Wollongong. This included new courses such as Peter J. Tobin College of Business introducing all students to not-for-profit management, students engaging in their communities including innovative projects at Great Lakes Institute of Management, and Willamette University Atkinson Graduate School of Management’s MBA for Life programme. ISAE/FGV shared their experiences in engaging stakeholders in prioritising their sustainability strategy moving forward.

Principle 4Principle 4: Research

Schools continue to conduct a number of important research projects around the topic of sustainability, ethics and responsible management focused on their particular regions, including the development of case studies on sustainable production and consumption for the business community at the Universiti Sains Malaysia.

A growing focus is being put on interdisciplinary collaboration and projects including at Stockholm School of Economics, Aarhus University and the Maasai Mara in Kenya, and the development of an interdisciplinary sustainability research network at University of Nottingham.

Several new publications were introduced which highlight research and the key role that faculty play in embedding sustainability and responsible management into the curriculum including Faculty Development for responsible management education and an Inspirational Guide for the Implementation of PRME featuring examples from UK and Ireland.

 Part 2 will be posted on January 4th, 2016.

Supply Chains and Sustainability – UNGlobal Compact – Resources and Ways to Engage

supply chainsA company’s entire supply chain can make a significant impact in promoting human rights, fair labour practices, environmental progress and anti-corruption policies. Companies rank supply chain practices as the biggest challenge to improving their sustainability performance. In response, the Global Compact provides a range of resources and projects to assist companies in this regard, all of which provide opportunities for the academic community to engage with and incorporate into curriculum and research.

This one pager provides a brief overview of the different projects and resources available on the topic of Supply Chains and Sustainability by the Global Compact and outlines a range of ways that academic institutions can get involved in these projects.

The Global Compact hosts a website, http://supply-chain.unglobalcompact.org, which is a one-stop-shop for business seeking information about supply chain sustainability. It provides information to assist business practitioners in embedding sustainability in supply chains including initiatives, programmes, codes, standards, networks, resources, and tools, as well as a range of case examples highlighting company practices.

Guide to Traceability, produced by the Global Compact and BSR, helps companies and stakeholders understand and advance supply chain traceability, which is the process of identifying and tracking a product or component’s path from raw material to finished good. Traceability is a tremendously impactful tool for advancing sustainability objectives, but still has a long way to go before it is an integral part of sustainable supply chain management and is used widely by companies. The guide shows companies and stakeholders how to effectively engage together in traceability.

Practical Guide for Continuous Improvement looks at how to integrate sustainability into procurement strategies. It includes alignment with relevant standards and initiatives and also reflects current and emerging trends within this area. The guide can also help schools think about their own procurement strategies and aligning them with sustainability goals.

An online assessment and learning tool around Supply Chain Sustainability is also available aimed at assisting businesses in measuring progress in implementing a holistic sustainable supply chain approach. This tool assesses gaps and share challenges and successes.
There are also several resources that relate to specific issues within the supply chain. Human rights examples include:

  • Human Rights and Labour Working Group Good Practice Notes on Supply Chains A series of Good Practice Notes on how companies can partner with suppliers, governments and civil society to promote human rights in supply chains.
  • Embedding Human Rights in Business Practice – Case Studies Series: A collection of case studies about efforts by companies to integrate human rights principles into their practices and supply chains. Case Studies on ANZ, Ford, Telenor Group and Total include a focus on supply chain management.

And corruption:

  • Fighting Corruption in the Supply Chain: A Guide for Customers and Suppliers Practical guidance and tools for both customers and suppliers to engage in the fight against corruption.
  • Stand Together Against Corruption this resource provides short and practical guidance to companies on managing anti-corruption in the supply chain.

Ways for the academic community to get involved

  • Listen to specific examples: Global Compact hosts a number of webinars on topics around sustainability and supply chain including traceability focused on specific sectors including forestry, minerals and diamonds, garments, and food and agriculture. These recordings are available on their website and can be used in the classroom.
  • Case studies: supply-chain.unglobalcompact.org has a section with dozens of short case studies of global compact companies implementing sustainability strategies in specific parts of their supply chain which can be incorporated into the classroom including Unilever’s sustainable sourcing of palm oil or Intel developing a “conflict free” supply chain.
  • Watch out for calls for input: Most recently there was call out for input on traceability solutions for the apparel sector in order to understand the functional and technical requirements along each step of the supply chain, and then explore what solutions providers exist that could address these requirements.
  • Use the website and current topics explored by this group of companies to inspire student and research projects or connect with these companies locally to propose related partnerships or to invite them in as guest speakers.

Finance and Sustainability – UN Global Compact and PRI – Resources and Ways to Engage

SSE-Model-Guidance-on-Reporting-ESG-thumbnail-150pxThe management education community often mentions finance as one of the most challenging disciplines to incorporate sustainability into teaching and research. However a significant amount of work is being done within the financial community in this respect that can be tapped into, and contributed to, by the academic community. More mainstream capital markets, including major institutional investors, now also evaluate companies’ performance on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. Several of these projects are being initiated and coordinated by the UN Global Compact.

This post provides a brief overview of the different projects and resources available on the topic of Finance and Sustainability by the UN Global Compact and outlines a range of ways that academic institutions can get involved in these projects.

Investors

The UN Global Compact supports a number of platforms that engage investors in understanding and incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues into their investment decisions. The UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) is an international network of investors working together to put the Six Principles of responsible investment into practice. Their goal is to understand the implications of sustainability for investors and support signatories to incorporate these issues into their investment decision-making and ownership practices. The PRI Academic Research work stream aims to engage PRI signatories and responsible investment practitioners with academic research.

On their website, PRI also has a significant number of resources specifically focused around the implementation of responsible investment by different actors across the field, including hedge funds, commodities, private equity, fixed income, etc.. A new report, Fiduciary Duty in the 21st Century, is also now available and explores the debate around whether fiduciary duty is a legitimate barrier to investors integrating ESG issues into their investment processes.

PRI works alongside a number of other related initiatives including the UNEP Finance Initiative, the Equator Principles (environmental and social risk in projects) and the Principles for Sustainable Insurance.

PRI and PRME are sister initiatives of the UN Global Compact. Currently the secretariats of both initiatives are developing a common work stream to better connect both networks and to identify joint projects. Updates will be forthcoming.

Stock Exchanges

There are two initiatives focused on encouraging sustainable investment and evaluating potential financial performance through an ESG lens via Stock Exchanges. This includes:

  • The Sustainable Stock Exchange Initiative (SSE) provides a platform for dialogue between the UN, stock exchanges, investors, companies, and regulators focused on creating more sustainable capital markets.
  • The Global Compact 100 is a stock index composed of a representative group of UN Global Compact companies, selected based on implementation of the Ten Principles and evidence of executive leadership commitment and consistent base line profitability. It does not look at sustainability performance in isolation of basic financial health but rather marries the two. The index showed a total investment return of 21.8 by the end of its first year surpassing the S&P global mid and large-cap benchmark over this period.

Creating Long Term Value

The report Short-Termism in Financial Markets explores short-termism in investment markets, a major obstacle to companies embedding sustainability in their strategic planning and capital investment decisions. Coping, Shifting, Changing: Strategies for Managing the Impacts of Investor Short-Termism on Corporate Sustainability also provides further guidance. Another resource, Tool for Communicating the Business Value of Sustainability, offers companies a simple and direct approach to assess and communicate the financial impact of their sustainability strategies.

For an overview of lessons learnt and recommended next steps for enhancing further integration of ESG and communication between companies and investors, the report Enhancing company-investor communication provides further guidance.

Ways for the academic community to get involved

  • Attend/participate in events relating to these initiatives. For example PRI in Person, the global conference on responsible investment, recently took place in London, UK. It included a meeting specifically aimed at academics. These provide opportunities to network and make connections for possible projects and partnerships moving forward.
  • Use the tools and resources made available for investors in your curriculum
  • Propose/create projects around the implementation of these tools: Approach signatory companies or other companies in your area to propose project work or events specifically around these tools and their implementation.
  • Calls for papers and possible research topics. PRI provides a range of opportunities through its website that are open to academics. You can also sign up to receive their newsletter, RI Quarterly. Some current topics of interest include
    • How do organisations practice ESG integration?
    • How can the bar be raised for the investment community as a whole?
    • What approach works better for engagement?
    • How is high performance achieved?
    • How do you measure and make the link between investment and its impact?

For a full list of possible research topics click here.

  • The oikos PhD Fellowship on “Finance and Sustainability” at the University of Zurich in Switzerland is looking for applicants (deadline November 10). The Fellowship supports outstanding international PhD students writing their theses on sustainability in economics or management.
  • Stay tuned for the announcement of a joint PRI-PRME workstream on responsible investment and finance.
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