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New UN Development Goals are Good News for Business Schools

Guy_Pfeffermann_webI wrote a year ago about the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Then in the planning stage, they were enshrined last September in a United Nations resolution as “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” These goals, much like their predecessors, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), will have significant influence over development strategies going forward. The work of international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the regional development banks, bilateral aid agencies, foundations and other private development assistance donors will be governed largely by the new Goals.

Why do the SDGs matter to the GBSN community?

For the last 15 years development funding, programs and priorities were influenced by the MDGs set in 2000: As you can see, these Goals were concerned largely with the welfare of mothers and young children. Goal #2, which deals with education, focuses only on primary education. Partly as a result, secondary and tertiary education were starved of development funding these past fifteen years.

The new SDGs are far more comprehensive, reflecting the holistic nature of social and economic development:For the first time in fifteen years the way is now open for management schools to play their part with the blessing of the international development assistance community.

SDG Goal #4 aims at “access to quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university” and seeks to increase substantially “the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship.”

Several of the detailed sub-goals are directly relevant to ways in which business schools are helping to foster development, including

  • Increase training for the health workforce (Goal #3)
  • Promote job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation (Goal #8 )
  • Encourage the growth of micro-, small and medium- sized enterprises (Goal # 8)
  • Reduce food losses along production and supply chains (Goal # 12)
  • Encourage companies to adopt sustainable practices (Goal # 12)

This list could have come off the web page of any of the developing world’s business schools!

At long last, GBSN’s mission to increase access to quality, locally relevant management education is fully consistent with the world’s most encompassing development policy guidelines. I am, to say the least, heartened and encouraged by this progress. In the coming months and years GBSN will work with our members to leverage funding and partnership opportunities opened by the SDGs that align so closely with our mission.

Guy Pfeffermann is the Founder & CEO of the Global Business School Network