7 April 2008
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

PRESS CONFERENCE on principles for responsible management education


More than 100 business schools and universities from around the world had adopted the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME or “Prime”), the Head of Academic Initiatives at the United Nations Global Compact Office announced today at Headquarters.


Briefing correspondents, Manuel Escudero said those schools -- 20 of which were among the 100 top-ranked business schools -- would incorporate the six principles of Prime into their core curriculum and the values of sustainability and social responsibility that were portrayed by the United Nations Global Compact.  He hoped that participants in Prime would become powerful “multipliers” of the United Nations values of peace and poverty alleviation, and of business as good corporate citizens.


According to the six principles, endorsing business schools and universities pledge, among other things, to develop the capabilities of students to be future generators of sustainable value for business and society; to incorporate into their academic activities and curricula the values of global social responsibility; to create educational frameworks, materials, processes and environments that would enable effective learning experiences for responsible leadership; and to engage in conceptual and empirical research that would advance understanding of corporations’ impact in the creation of sustainable social, environmental and economic value.


They also pledge to interact with managers of business corporations to extend institutions’ knowledge of the corporations’ challenges in meeting social and environmental responsibilities; and facilitate and support dialogue and debate among educators, business, Government, consumers, media, civil society and other stakeholders on critical issues related to global social responsibility and sustainability.


Mr. Escudero said it was probably the first time that the United Nations was establishing large-scale sustainable outreach to the academic world, with the goal of ensuring that future business leaders and professionals would be familiar with the United Nations values and principles.  The principles had been presented to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in July in Geneva, at which occasion the Secretary-General had said: “The principles have the capacity to take the case of universal values in business into classrooms in every continent.”


He said that the Global Compact -- together with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), the European Foundation for Management Development (EFRMD), the Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program, the European Academy for Business and Society (EABIS), the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative (GRLI), the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) and Net Impact -- had created a steering committee that was coordinating all activities.  It would organize a Global Forum for Responsible Management Education on 1 and 2 December at United Nations Headquarters to take stock of progress made and exchange experiences.


Mr. Escudero also announced the launch this morning in Dubai of a regional network of Global Compact participants that would serve as facilitator and catalyst for all Global Compact-related activities in the Gulf region.


Asked whether a course had been developed that would promote the ideals, Mr. Escudero said the initiative had just been started.  The idea was that the six principles would become part of the schools’ core curriculum.  The purpose was to incorporate the values of sustainability and social responsibility into the training of future leaders and professionals.  It was up to the business schools how to do that, and he hoped that, during the December Forum, answers would be provided, so that schools could learn from schools.  New methodologies would be developed, inspired by the ideals.  He hoped that, in the future, students would be engaged in practical exercises that took into consideration what was happening in the world and new demands from the business community.


Answering a question about the background of the programme, he said the Global Compact had been created because, with the gaps in governance nowadays, the business community had been called upon to incorporate values that had been internationally accepted in terms of human rights, labour, environmental sustainability and anti‑corruption.  The initiative to involve business schools had come from the idea that those schools could be a powerful multiplier for business and would prepare leaders and professionals that could enhance the Global Compact.  Throughout the world, business schools were hearing the call and were adapting their curricula to the new needs of business.  Prime wanted to be a framework for systemic change.


The schools that had adopted the principles had to submit a yearly report to the stakeholders on their performance, he answered another correspondent’s question.  Those reports would be available on Prime’s website:  www.unprme.org.  It was indeed true that some companies had been de-listed from the Global Compact, because of their failure to report on the implementation of the Compact’s principles.  Details of the de-listing could be found on the Compact’s website:  www.unglobalcompact.org.


Asked whether the principles would also apply to the United Nations as employer, he said his office was in contact with all United Nations agencies and offices dealing with education.


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For information media • not an official record