IILM Institute for Higher Education, an Indian B-School committed to the Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME) as envisaged by UN Global Compact, organized the 6th International Conference on ‘Reimagining Sustainable Futures – The SDG Framework’ from January 31 – February 2, 2019 at its campus in Lodhi Road Campus, New Delhi. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, are the cornerstone on which this conference has been envisaged.
This 3-day-conference witnessed a series of thematic sessions that urged its speakers, participants and audience to think, look and visualize the future with sustainable development. The Conference endeavoured to compel its presenters and listeners to think beyond the present and imagine the future not as an extension of the current but as a transformation emanating from it.
The Conference began with the inaugural session on ‘Ideas Driven Economy’ with Dr. Bhaskar Chatterjee, widely acclaimed as the Father of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in India, giving an overview of the theme where he said, “IILM, in its capacity and reach, mobilizes its network and resources to bring together other signatory business schools, thought leaders, policy makers, researchers, pioneers in the field, industry experts and most importantly, engages with the next generation of business leaders through the platform of its International Conference to proactively analyse, debate the roadmap for future, supporting the advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals.” Mr. Pavan Bagai, President and COO, EXL Service, the Key Note Speaker of the session, connected sustainability with the Principles of Marketing and said, “Sustainability is change, constant change, because nothing stays static and even the status quo deteriorates without action.” Another eminent speaker, Mr. Begur Ramachandra Rao, Senior Education Specialist, UNICEF India, spoke about Sustainability and inclusiveness and how Education can be used to reach the SDG goals. The first day of the Conference also saw the launch of the book ‘Reimagining Sustainable Futures – The SDG Agenda’, edited by Dr. Bhaskar Chatterjee, former Director General IICA and Member Board of Governors IILM and Dr. Bidisha Banerji that was followed by an interesting panel discussion by the contributing authors of the book.
The second day of the Conference had four sessions around the main theme of the Conference, each session with eminent panellists from different industries and arenas discussing issues facing India and their solutions. Saurabh Shresth from Unilever made an important point when he said, “Doing well while doing good is the motto we follow at Unilever to make the world a better place.” Abhinav Akhilesh from KPMG pointed out that the success of the Swachh Bharat campaign is that the entire country is talking about it which has propelled Corporates and Business Houses to pay attention the issue. The sessions on Exploring Renewable Energy; Future Technologies and Ethical Decision Making raised several valid points and gave the audience many points to ponder about.
The last day of the Conference has an exciting beginning with IILM’s Alumni session on Sustainability and Future of Work where the Alumni, now working in different industries, spoke about their work experiences and the changes they foresee and how to assimilate the value of sustainability as an essential piece of the story. Session Chair, Dr Didar Singh made an important point when he said, “Multiskilling is what is going to be the future of work and is the key to managing its future.”
The concluding session of the Conference was a significant one called ‘Entrepreneurship Against All Odds – Recognising Unsung Women Achievers’. In a path breaking initiative by IILM to recognise and showcase the achievements of women entrepreneurs from different states, cultures, and socio-economic strata who have succeeded against all odds, 50 women were identified from rural areas who became entrepreneurs despite adverse circumstances. IILM recognised seven of these women of indomitable spirit and enterprise who were able to scale up their business to newer heights and work beyond themselves to create social impact. Mrs Malvika Rai, Chairperson IILM, and Mr Dilip Chenoy, Secretary General FICCI, honoured the ladies. Mr Dilip Chenoy spoke about how India needs to improve women participation in the industry and workforce. He said about the awarded women entrepreneurs, “These women are like fireflies that can light up the sky when they all work together and they can do it in a sustainable manner.” Mr Anurag Batra, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of BusinessWorld, said, “We tend to mostly recognise urban women and this initiative to recognise women at the grass root level is really good.” Other luminaries on the dais which included Sunil Marwah, CEO, Food Industry Capacity Building & Skill Initiative; Krishan Dhawan, CEO Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, Mr.KamalSingh,Executive Director,Global Compact Network India and Dr.Bhaskar Chatterjee wished the women awardees well and expressed their pride in being part of the event. IILM expressed its commitment to identifying and recognising such women entrepreneurs every year.
The end of the Conference was followed by the Annual Alumni Meet where few Alumni who have made a mark in their careers were felicitated. The Alumni interacted with each other and with the faculty over lunch.
The 6th IILM International PRME Conference by bringing together various conversational threads on and around sustainability and weaving them together to create an agenda for the future was a great success.