The 13th Global RCE Conference held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from October 31 to November 2, 2023 aimed to promote greater community engagement in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). The conference focused on exploring five priority action areas for ESD in 2030 with the goal of fostering the development of sustainable communities worldwide. Dr. Ellen Touchstone, Associate Dean of Responsible and Sustainable Business Education at International Business School Suzhou (IBSS) of Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU), and President of RCE Suzhou, was invited to participate in the conference. She and the IBSS Sustainable Future Talents (SFT) in IBSS were awarded with the Global RCE Recognition Award in acknowledgment of their contributions through the “15 Ways in 15 Weeks” carbon reduction initiative.
Today, the concept of sustainable development is embedded in various aspects of social development and people's lives. In 2003, the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies in Sustainable Development (UNU-IAS) initiated the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) programme. This global endeavor established a multi-stakeholder network of ESD Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) dedicated to designing and conducting research and development activities. RCE Suzhou, based at the International Business School Suzhou (IBSS) of Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU), has been at the forefront in China, focusing on business ethics, corporate social responsibility, and business sustainability education. IBSS has amassed significant experience in implementing the UN Principles for Responsible Management Education and spearheading student-led sustainability education projects within the local community.
On November 1st, RCE Suzhou took part in a roundtable meeting alongside representatives from various regions who shared their sustainability efforts, contributions, and summarized the outcomes of their initiatives. As a newly established regional member, RCE Suzhou actively engaged in exchanging ideas with other representatives during the meeting. The valuable lessons learned from these discussions will guide the forthcoming steps of the RCE Suzhou.
Following the meeting, the organizers arranged a visit to several sustainability-related initiatives within the International Islamic University Malaysia. These initiatives included a Stray Animal Shelter on campus, the Planting-Cooking Recycling Chain System, and the Museum of Science, Technology, and Innovation Development. The university prioritizes integrating sustainability concepts into teaching, research, and campus life. During the visit, students explored an exhibition showcasing the university's sustainability programs and had enriching conversations with local students. This mutual exchange of ideas inspired both groups to explore new concepts and innovative approaches to sustainable development. Moreover, this multicultural exchange broadened the students' international perspective while enhancing their understanding and respect for different cultures.
The visit to the International Islamic University Malaysia
Throughout this period, student representatives engaged in in-depth discussions with the school's regional directors. They focused on disseminating and implementing sustainable concepts among students, schools, and society, actively seeking potential opportunities for collaboration.
On November 2nd, RCE Suzhou presented various case studies, including "Bugs 4 Oceans: Insect Protein Replacement for Deep Sea Fish Pet Food Project" by Green Light-Year and the "Shared Vegetable Gardens Project in Suzhou Industrial Park’s Meisong Community." Both the insect protein pet food project and the "15 Ways in 15 Weeks 2.0 Carbon Reduction Initiative at IBSS" were recognized and awarded.
During the "Empowering Youth" sub-forum, representatives from different regions worldwide shared exemplary cases of engaging young individuals in sustainable education development. Dr. Ellen Touchstone led our 2023 graduate, Haina Sang, along with current students Yuetong Yang, Yanning Qi, Qunfeng Zhou, and Shiyu Shan, in discussing sustainable education at the forum. They focused on the Sustainable Futures Talent's involvement in the "15 Ways in 15 Weeks 2.0 Carbon Reduction Initiative at IBSS." This collaborative effort engaged key stakeholders such as IBSS’s Sustainability Committee, faculty, staff, campus management, cafeteria, local community members, purpose-driven enterprises, and charitable organizations. Together, they orchestrated relevant activities aligned with each week's theme, gradually expanding sustainable community engagement. The presentations sparked extensive discussions among attendees, ultimately resulting in the students' presentation proposals winning the Global RCE Recognition Award.
Be awarded with the Global RCE Recognition Award
The students' presentation at the international conference highlighted IBSS's approach to student development, aiming to foster cross-border exchanges, international exposure, and the cultivation of talents with an innovative mindset and a strong commitment to sustainable business practices.