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UN joins DMU for global conference on how to tackle sustainable goals


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Top experts from the United Nations (UN) joined De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) in Dubai to show how partnerships can help solve the planet’s biggest challenges. 

Over three days, a wide range of leaders from business, charity, humanitarian organisations and higher education joined the ninth PRME Regional Chapter MENA Forum and 2022 Conference. 

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DMU hosted the conference with PRME – the UN’s Principles for Responsible Management Education team, which focuses on how to educate future leaders to focus on achieving the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, global targets which address issues like hunger, poverty and equality. 

The theme of the conference was the power of partnerships in addressing those SDGs and the first two days were held at DMU Dubai, the university’s new branch campus, which opened last year. 

The final day was held at Expo 2020, the huge international show which has been running in Dubai since October and at which DMU is a founding partner of the UK Pavilion. 

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Hosting the final day was Professor Simon Oldroyd, DMU’s Pro Vice-Chancellor Sustainability, who summed up the conference’s aims. 

He said: “The purpose of this conference is to connect networks and ideas to try and enact real change. It’s powerful partnerships with industry which move us towards the SDG goals.” 

 First keynote speaker was Maher Nasser, the UN’s Director of Outreach, who described the main challenges facing the world. 

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He said: “There’s now a peace deficit in Europe and the numbers of refugees is rising. There’s also a big deficit in sustainability and I think that’s where academics can really play a part, working with industry. 

“The third main deficit is a deficit of equality. The number of people living in poverty has increased for first time since 1990.” 

Mr Nasser having outlined the challenge, Dr Mette Morsing, the director of PRME, spoke next. 

She told the audience: “PRME was launched to nurture responsible leaders. It wants to redefine success, focus goals on society, and focus on skills required 

“Success is often defined as winning the battle. It is a language of conflict, of conquest. It is not the language of partnerships, of collaboration. That is what we want to change in PRME.” 

DMU has twice been chosen by the UN as a global hub for SDG 16, the promotion of peace justice and strong institutions and a big part of this status has been down to the creation of strong partnerships across HE to share practice in supporting refugees in local communities. 

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On the previous two days, the conference had heard from individuals running organisations helping to tackle food poverty and promoting sustainable cleaning. 

It had also heard from an expert on blockchains, who outlined how the emerging internet economy could help make the distribution of wealth in society fairer. 

Each of them had underlined that their work was only possible through partnerships. 

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Faiz Shah, the director of the Yunus Centre, which works to build networks promoting sustainable work, poverty alleviation and social business, spoke about how universities can help connect business in their communities. 

He said: “One consequence of the pandemic was that we realised that the future of business lies in localised businesses.  

“Even small businesses can be players in a global market because of modern globalised communication. But the success is dependent on partnerships.” 

Posted on Thursday 24th March 2022

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