Address "Are the managers of the future fit for purpose?" during the Antwerp Management School event
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Agenda 2030, adopted in 2015 by all the Member States of the United Nations, is a transformative agenda. It is also a very complex agenda, that needs everyone’s support. Therefore, it calls not only on governments, but also on civil society, on academia, on individuals and on the private sector, to join in a collective effort to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.
As you are aware, the world is not on track at the moment to realize the agenda by 2030. This collective effort will need to be much amplified and accelerated, if we want to meet the deadline.
In my capacity as a United Nations SDG Advocate, I have made a point of talking about the SDGs, both in Belgium and abroad. It is important to raise awareness of them. Lately, I have been struck by the fact that the SDGs have now gained real traction as a roadmap towards a more sustainable world and less unequal societies. The proposals put forward by the European Commission on an EU Green Deal are a recent example of this mainstreaming of the SDGs.
I have also engaged with both representatives of the private sector and with university students. Many are well informed about the SDGs. Many are willing to contribute new thinking, new science and new methods, in order to achieve them. But, as our exchanges have also made clear, both CEOs and students have sometimes felt ill-equipped to respond to these new challenges. Making sustainability a key component of decision-making processes requires thinking differently.
In recent years, the mobilization capacity of young people in favor of a more sustainable planet has become obvious. Not only because their future is at stake, but because they react promptly, they are connected, and they come up with creative solutions. You are clearly a huge asset to all those who care about the implementation of the SDGs. But you also need to be equipped with the right tools.
All this prompted the idea of a reflection on the role and the education of the managers of the future - which you, dear students, hope to become. The suggestion was made to hold today’s event.
Earlier, you had the opportunity to discuss some important questions with peers. Questions, such as: “Are the SDGs a good framework for changing current business models?”. And “Have the SDGs been sufficiently integrated and taught?”.
These must have been lively discussions. Now is the time to share your views more broadly. And not only at this round table. Today’s debate should not remain a lone event. I hope it will become the basis for further exchanges of ideas and, more importantly, for new actions to promote the SDGs within your academic institutions. And after that, dear students, within the companies and organizations you will soon join.
But before closing, let me draw your attention to a specific issue to which I pay particular attention as an SDG Advocate. Last week I spoke with the UN Secretary General, Mr. Guterres, about his upcoming strategy on mental health and wellbeing on the work floor. I believe that, as future leaders and managers, your contribution to the implementation of this global strategy will be more than welcome.
I thank you.
Only the spoken word counts.