This keynote session was delivered by Mike Barry, Director of Sustainable Business at Marks and Spencer, at the “Learning and Legacy: The Role of Education in Creating Healthier and Happier Cities” EAUC Annual Conference 2016.
2015 was a key year in the sustainability debate.
With the agreement of the COP21 Climate Deal and the launch of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals global policy makers marked the point at which we accepted that making our existing 20th Century economy ‘less bad’ was simply not enough. We had to begin the long, challenging journey to build a new 21st Century Economy, one that works for all – people, planet and profit.
They had recognised that the economic, social and environmental pressures that now lean into our way of life are simply too great to be addressed by tinkering around the edges.
These pressures and our growing response to them (COP21, SDGs etc.) mean we have to re-shape dramatically how we educate, how we consume, how we participate in democratic decision making
We will see new business models that are low carbon, circular and grounded in equality and wellbeing.
Cities will become at least as important as nation states in shaping how our lives are governed – small enough to flex and adapt, big enough to make a scale difference.
And universities need to change too. They need to be the hothouse for ideas on new business and new democracy. They need to promote a more joined up approach to living our lives where we are able to reach beyond our immediate specialisms and see how ‘everything is connected’.
And in helping create this new economy and society, universities need to be exemplars too of a new sustainable approach to living, across their campuses, teaching, research, employment practices and relations with their local communities.
Universities have a choice – to be on the front foot shaping the future or to wait and let the future happen around them, constantly playing catch up.
We need to build a coalition of university leaders, the experienced and the new, committed to driving this change and capturing the benefits that will accrue to those that lead rather than follow.
To find more presentations and resources from this Conference, search for EAUCConf16.