Business schools are joining in the urgent call for more ambitious climate action during COP27. Six leading African business schools are recognizing the critical role that higher education can play in addressing climate change and its associated challenges, and launching a new initiative with the African Chapter of the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) in response.
Business Schools for Climate Leadership Africa (BS4CL Africa) brings together schools of business in building a collaborative framework for climate action to transform business education curricula that matches the needs and adapts to the realities of the African continent. The initiative will also invite contributions from the private sector and civil society, and will mirror the ambitions of the UN Climate Conference (COP27) taking place in parallel in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
“[Our] ultimate goal [is] for business schools [to] effectively addressing climate change issues by integrating such timely and critical subjects within the business schools’ ecosystem through teaching, curriculum, cases, and projects including research endeavors and business development activities as they help shape the next generation of leaders to impact society,” said Sherif Kamel, Dean of The American University in Cairo (AUC) School of Business.
PRME Chapter Africa—one of 17 regional networks of the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), an initiative of the United Nations Global Compact aimed at mobilizing business, management, and leadership education in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—gathered deans, academics and thought leaders representing PRME, The Financial Times, the Association of African Business Schools (AABS), and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and Business Schools for Climate Leadership (BS4CL) at a Deans Roundtable today in Cairo, Egypt to launch the initiative. The Deans Roundtable was hosted by The AUC School of Business. The model for this initiative was inspired by the BS4CL group launched by 8 leading business schools in Europe at COP26 last year.
Topics discussed included the required resources for associated activities to increase awareness and climate action, including gathering Deans’ support, institutional commitment, dedicated faculty, and partnership champions. The discussion candidly addressed issues and possible hindrances like resource limitations, prioritization conflicts, school competition, industry commitment, and being able to sell value to students as business schools. As a result, the initiative plans to develop a white paper for attainable action by business schools.
The BS4CL initiative began at COP26 in 2021, when a group of eight European business schools gathered to provide insight on what business can do to help the climate change crisis. Through launching a toolkit and series of webinars, these eight leading schools set the tone for business schools in Europe and abroad in designating climate leadership at the forefront of their schools’ strategies. BS4CL Africa now hopes to influence business in Africa with its growing momentum in collaboration with The AUC School of Business, PRME Chapter Africa, and the BS4CL European initiative.
“We are excited for the momentum of BS4CL Africa and envision that the Deans Roundtable will be a continued collaboration for impact, one which closely aligns with the ambitions of PRME,” said Sherwat Elwan Ibrahim, Chair of PRME Chapter Africa.
BS4CL Africa exemplifies how African businesses are already taking responsibility for their impact on the planet, and considering the planet’s impact on their businesses. As part of a burgeoning movement, PRME Chapter Africa continues to produce thought leadership in this area through its programming and network.
“After launching just one year ago, [PRME Chapter Africa’s] membership has already grown to 20 schools out of the larger PRME network of over 860 higher education institutions. The BS4CL Africa initiative is sure to contribute to even higher impact into the future,” commented Mette Morsing, Head of PRME, UN Global Compact.
BS4CL Founding Team member Peter Tufano shared his support of the Africa-centered edition of BS4CL, “I am thrilled to represent BS4CL at the launch of BS4CL Africa aligning with the opening of COP27. Business schools and business have much to contribute to battling climate change and its impacts, and BS4CL Africa will bring an authentic and important African perspective to this global and local issue.”
Participating deans included Sherif Kamel, Dean of the School of Business at The American University in Cairo, Egypt; Thami Ghorfi, President of ESCA Ecole de Management in Morocco; Morris Mthombeni, Dean of Gordon Institute of Business Science in South Africa; Yinka David-West, Deputy Dean of Lagos Business School in Nigeria; David Chiawo, Dean of the School of Tourism and Hospitality at Strathmore University in Kenya; and Mark Smith, Director of Stellenbosch Business School in South Africa. Also participating in the roundtable: Jonathan Foster-Pedley, Chair of the Association of African Business Schools (AABS); Sarah El-Battouty, Global Ambassador for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); Mette Morsing, Head of Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) at UN Global Compact; Peter Tufano, Dean Emeritus of Said Business School at the University of Oxford, Baker Foundation Professor at Harvard Business School and BS4CL Founding Team; Andrew Jack, Global Education Editor at The Financial Times; Sherwat Elwan Ibrahim, Chair of PRME Chapter Africa; and Mumbi Wachira, Vice-Chair of PRME Chapter Africa.