RSM Sustainability Forum 2018

For businesses thinking about making the shift to a sustainable model – or for anyone looking for more information about it – the 2018 RSM Sustainability Forum on 13 April in the Forumzaal of Erasmus Expo and Congress Center, EUR presents high-profile keynote speakers to examine two important factors that can ignite systemic change in business; responsible management and sustainable finance practices. Registration is essential.

Igniting systemic change starts the process of welcoming new business models. It’s based on the concept of systems thinking, which sees business as part of a larger system. Sustainable finance considers how investing and lending interreacts with economic, social and environmental issues, and responsible management considers the roles and responsibilities of business as a global force.

Following the keynote presentations, the audience is invited to engage in cracking real business cases in one of ten breakout sessions facilitated by leaders in sustainable business including ABN AMRO Social Impact Fund, Aidenvironment, ASN Bank, a.s.r. vermorgensbeheer, EY, GAIN, Gemeente Rotterdam, Next Nature Network, Peterson Union Control, Robeco, True Price.

The afternoon schedule includes a spotlight on student research with the presentation of the KPMG-RSM Sustainability Master Thesis Award and the day closes with networking drinks.

Keynote speakers are Jessica Thomas, Director of Business Sustainability Collaborative, an academic initiative that connects students, faculty and the business community; and Gianni Lorenzato, Senior Financial Advisor to the World Bank Group, , the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and also to the international organisation for sustainable development and education GIZ. 

  • Systemic Change is based on the concept of systems thinking, which sees business as part of a larger system. For a long time businesses saw themselves as the central figure so it’s a big adjustment to adopt systems thinking, in which the economic, ecological and societal spheres are interdependent; changes in one sphere have consequences for the others. This changes managerial thinking about corporate sustainability. Companies can no longer cherry-pick which sustainability issues they want to address. Instead, they must take an outside-in perspective to identify the most pressing issues in environment and society. Responsible management and sustainable finance are two of the building blocks that can ignite systemic change.

  • Sustainable finance takes into consideration how investing and lending interreacts with economic, social and environmental issues. Finance can assist in making strategic decisions on the trade-offs between sustainable goals and investors can exert influence over the companies in which they invest. This is how long-term investors can steer companies towards sustainable business practices. Finance is good at pricing risk for valuations and can help to deal with the uncertainty of environmental issues, such as the impact of carbon emissions on climate change. RSM Professor Dirk Schoenmaker has researched and written extensively about finance and sustainability both looking to the future.

  • Fundamental connections between business, the environment, and society have become essential. Concepts related to societal responsibility and sustainability are gaining recognition as essential elements in business management because the responsibilities of business as a global force are urgent and complex. New approaches such as integrative management tools that help embed environmental, social, and governance concerns into strategy and operations can bring lasting change in societal responsibility and sustainability, and they must involve the institutions that drive business behaviour, especially academia. Responsible management principles have the potential to generate a wave of positive change.