Ashridge makes contribution to Copenhagen climate negotiations

7 12 2009

Ashridge has made its own small but direct contribution to the COP15 Copenhagen climate negotiations beginning today. Two weeks ago, Ashridge was invited to participate in a United Nations forum convened at Copenhagen Business School on climate change and the implications for management education, as a feed-in event to the Copenhagen negotiations. Ashridge Chief Executive Kai Peters was invited to speak on a panel with peers from Bentley College in the US, China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), St Gallen and others, and I was also delighted to be invited to introduce a corporate panel with representatives from Novo Nordisk and Vattenfall, and summarise recent Ashridge research about CEO expectations regarding leadership development, management education and the role of business schools. (you can read more about this at

Manuel Escudero, speaking on behalf of the United Nations, said that business schools had not kept up with the pace of change as companies refocus on the commercial opportunities that will be at stake in the third industrial revolution – the transition to a low carbon economy. Business schools, he said, have a tremendous opportunity to create inspiring learning opportunities by focusing the creative energies of the next generation of business leaders on the commercial opportunities of the great challenges of our time. 

To achieve this, Kai Peters commented, business schools must look at four issues around curriculum content: issues of sustainability must be substantial, universal to all participants on programmes rather than “elective”, applied and discussion-based rather than only theoretical and, finally, integrated into all subject areas. 

The two day conference, which also featured contributions from McKinsey, KPMG and IBM, was convened to draft a declaration that is going to be presented to the conference chair at the start of the United Nations COP15 climate negotiations. The declaration states that “business schools around the world call upon political leaders to agree to an ambitious global climate treaty at COP15.” The declaration states that, to effectively support an ambitious climate framework, business schools agree they should integrate climate-related topics into the heart of the management education curriculum, lead research into the changing role of business in a low carbon economy, and lead by example by greening their own campuses, with an aim to reduce green house gas emissions by 40% by 2020 and reach carbon neutrality by 2030. 

You can read the full declaration here: 

The Copenhagen Conference Declaration: A Call to Action for Management Education