AIS, JGSOM, SDSN PH host public plenary with GRI on role of academe in mainstreaming sustainability
03 Apr 2023
Last 13 March 2023, Ateneo de Manila University through the Ateneo Institute of Sustainability (AIS) and the John Gokongwei School of Management (JGSOM), the Sustainable Development Solutions Network Philippines (SDSN PH), and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) jointly organized a public plenary entitled “The Evolving Role of Universities in Sustainability'' held concurrently at Escaler Hall and via Zoom. Moderated by GRI Regional Program Manager Ms Danielle Coronacion, the event served as the SDSN PH’s Public Plenary for this year and was offered as a Talakayang Alay sa Bayan (TALAB) class for Ateneo students.
Keynote speaker Mr Eelco van der Enden, the CEO of GRI, highlighted the growing relevance of sustainability in the corporate setting globally, including the ASEAN region. Noting how sustainability leads to the complete transformation of the economic model, Mr van der Enden stated that sustainability is gaining traction in various natures and functions of businesses, including supply chain, production, management, and finance. He emphasized that universities play an essential role in ensuring that the workforce of the future can meet societal and investor demands and produce a diverse set of specialists.
Following his keynote was a fireside chat with Dr Ma Assunta C Cuyegkeng, Ateneo Professor and Executive Director of the ASEAN University Network on Ecological Education and Culture (AUN-EEC). Dr Cuyegkeng pointed out that most sustainability leaders who are pioneering sustainability efforts in their companies nowadays never get to learn about sustainability in a formal structured way. Thus, the changing landscape in integrating sustainability in higher education, such as through Ateneo’s minor program in sustainability, a Master's program in Sustainability Management, and a plethora of electives centered on particular Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is a welcome development.
This was followed by an online panel discussion composed of the First Philippine Holdings (FPH) Chief Sustainability Officer Ms Agnes de Jesus, Business for Sustainable Development (BSD) Business Development and Membership Manager Ms Raelanie Loyola, and ASEAN University Network for Business and Economics (AUN-BE) Committee Member Dr. Gumilang Aryo Sahadewo. The panelists delved deeper into internal challenges in making the shift towards sustainability management, as well as the emerging opportunities available and new competencies needed from those entering the workforce given the rise of sustainability thrusts.
Closing the panel discussion, Dr Cuyegkeng reiterated that universities have a pivotal role in preparing the future workforce amidst the changing global environment and corporate landscape. She cited the relevance of the interdisciplinary perspective that universities foster in understanding the dynamic backdrop and equipping the students for this setting.
AIS, JGSOM, and SDSN PH (housed at AIS) partnered with GRI, the provider of the world’s most widely used sustainability disclosure standards, in organizing the event to leverage their combined expertise in engaging the public in a meaningful dialogue on how the sustainability agenda has become a material determinant of success across industries and organizations. GRI has chosen the Ateneo as its partner for the event given the university’s track record in advocating for sustainability in various fronts.
The plenary gathered over more than 250 participants representing various local, regional and global organizations from the academe, government, non-government, and civil society. In addition to the local-based on-site participants, significant international participation from Malaysia, Indonesia, China, India, as well as from UAE, Jordan, Pakistan, Egypt, Russia, Germany, and the United Kingdom graced the online discussion.
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