The United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) has announced a new digital ‘Global Solutions Platform’ to engage business students to support the advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, or Global Goals). The platform consists of two parallel projects through which business students will analyze and evaluate the quality of company activities as they relate to responsible and sustainable business operations, and highlight the most notable achievements of companies in each major industry.
Participating students from signatory schools of the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative will be extracting and analyzing the data, statistics and innovative business solutions from UNGC participants as part of their course work, through resources such as the public database of Communication of Progress (COP) reports — the visual expression of a company’s commitment provided to the UN Global Compact every year.
“Today’s business and management students are keenly aware of the importance of sustainable and responsible companies, and have higher expectations for companies they wish to work for,” said the Head of PRME, Jonas Haertle. “Students and youth are eager to see systemic change in the way that business plans are managed so that values like sustainability take higher priority.”
“This platform will offer business students a chance to support the SDGs by evaluating existing business solutions and highlighting the most successful practices in each industry for other companies to follow,” he added.
The projects will be managed in partnership with WikiRate, which aims to improve corporate transparency and responsiveness by making data about their social and environmental impacts useful and available, and AIM2Flourish, the world’s first higher education experiential learning curriculum for the SDGs.
Specifically, the WikiRate project will analyze information provided in COP reports and present data that, among other things, will showcase where company and sector improvements can be made. The AIM2Flourish project will categorize activities and data according to each relevant SDG determined through research on innovative business practices that “do good and do well.”
The students’ efforts will support the UNGC and PRME as they assess outcomes and progress on achieving the SDGs. Their findings will be presented to member states during the UN’s High-Level Political Forums as demonstrations of corporate commitments to achieving the Goals.
“Today’s youth play a pivotal role in tackling the development challenges of the 21st century,” said Ahmad Alhendawi, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. He added that “business students in particular will be key to addressing these challenges through their future involvement in the private sector.”
Sustainia will be supporting the creation of the digital platform, set to launch in 2017, which the organization says “will be the go-to place for business leaders seeking connections and inspiration, for investors seeking new opportunities, and for authorities in need of credible private partners.”
“If we are going to reach the ambitious targets of the SDGs, we need to focus on solutions,” said Lise Kingo, the Executive Director of the UNGC. “This new partnership puts us in an unprecedented position to help businesses integrate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their organisational strategies by connecting them to a world of solutions, and truly move the needle on sustainable development.”