Today’s and tomorrow’s leaders call for commitment to UN Sustainable Development Goals

Integrate the circular economy into educational programmes, provide unambiguous reports on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and expand the collaboration with all stakeholders concerned – these are some of the recommendations that were adopted by the ‘Transform Your World’ conference. This event was initiatiated by the DSGC and the Economic Faculty Association Rotterdam (EFR) and hosted in collaboration with the Dutch SDG Charter on 8 December 2016.

‘The 17 Goals, that were negociated and agreed by world leaders are the best gift to the world that we ever had from our leaders. They are a political manifesto for the entire world. They are the key to a future that holds opportunity and hope for a life of dignity for all and a healthy planet. The global goals are closely intertwined and cannot be achieved but by adopting a paradigm shift, a new way of thinking, by taking action, organizing, communicating, providing funds and reporting. Universities can develop the knowledge required for this purpose,’ said David Nabarro (UN Special Adviser on the SDGs) during his key note.

‘We cannot achieve the Sustainable Development Goals unless all parties involved cooperate. I invite all of the participants to engage actively in partnerships and alliances, whether for the purpose of improving public health, fighting gender discrimination, or improving working conditions for the underprivileged,’ said Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.

Today’s and tomorrow’s leaders shared views about ways of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals together. Political parties, government authorities, the corporate sector, NGOs, research and educational institutes, philanthropists and students exchanged ideas as well as setting up concrete plans to take joint action.

DSGC Student Challenge
About 80 students of institutions of higher education including Erasmus University pitched their best ideas in the ‘DSGC Student Challenge’. Paul Polman (CEO of Unilever), Feike Sijbesma (CEO of DSM), Frans van Houten (CEO of Phillips), and Marjan van Loon (President of the Board of Directors of Royal Dutch Shell) had challenged students to find practical solutions for sustainable development in their respective business operations. The team that presented the idea of making air pollution data accessible to local communities to encourage them to compete for the best achievements in air quality improvement, was elected the winning team by the participants to the conference.

Jan Peter Balkenende, Chairman of the DSGC, concluded the conference by saying: ‘Stop talking, start walking. We need to take action. The SDGs constitute a positive agenda. Everyone needs to see and understand the bigger picture of our future, rather than just sticking to their professional routine as a judge, a physician or an engineer. What we need is a new mindset.’