Driving Business Towards The Sustainable Development Goals

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This course focuses on the role of businesses in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). You will gain insights from leaders of international companies and academics in business and management who will guide you through the issue of how businesses can contribute to the SDGs. 

About this course

Extreme weather events, wars, famine and environmental destruction are just a few of the wicked problems faced by humanity.
In 2015, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that target the big challenges such as how to eliminate poverty, how to protect the environment and how to bring about peace. Every member state committed to achieving these goals by 2030.

What can businesses do to counter climate change and create a sustainable business culture? Why is this relevant for business anyway? Explore how business can contribute to a better future for people AND the planet without giving up profits.

This course has been developed by Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University (RSM). It focuses on the role of businesses in achieving the SDGs. You will gain insights from leaders of international companies and academics in business and management who will guide you through the issue of how businesses can contribute to the SDGs.

After completing this course you will:

  • Know what the SDGs are, why they are important and how each individual can be an agent for positive change in the world;
  • Understand the role of business in the transition to sustainable development to create a prosperous future for all; 
  • Be able to identify interconnectedness of the SDGs and the challenges behind solving them;
  • Know how management insights can contribute to the SDGs; 
  • Be able to evaluate the effectiveness of current business strategies in contributing to the SDGs;
  • Develop a positive, critical, aware and courageous attitude towards the SDGs. 
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The course consists of seven units, each focusing on several aspects of sustainable development. 

Here is what we will cover in
this course

Introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals

Explore the course overview so you have a better understanding of the resources, materials and assessments that lie ahead.

The Biosphere

This module focuses on the SDGs that are most related to our planet and the biosphere. We will explore what companies can do to halt, reverse or mitigate climate change, and protect life on land and below water.

Society I

This module is dedicated to those SDGs that relate to Society. We introduce societal challenges such as hunger and poverty, and we look at new business models for healthcare and the transition to sustainable energy.

Society II

This module focuses on the remaining SDGs related to society. We look at cities, education, and tackling inequality. We examine sustainable city transportation networks and how social entrepreneurship can support education that promotes employment for everyone. We also talk about the interconnectedness of the SDGs.


This module explore the SDGs related to the economy. We will explore business contribution to SDGs 8, 9 and 12 and find out why decent work conditions, innovation and infrastructure, and sustainable consumption and production are so important. The key question is how businesses can be (both socially as well as economically) profitable in the long run while respecting planetary boundaries and human rights.
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The SDGs cannot be achieved by a single individual or organisation. In this module we will explore how companies, governments, non-profit organisations and individuals can develop partnerships to achieve peace and prosperity for all.

Systems thinking

This module will focus on the interconnectedness of the SDGs. None of the SDGs can be achieved by themselves or in isolation. This week, we will explore how the SDGs are interconnected and how synergies and trade-offs work.
This course is superb! I was able to understand thoroughly the SDGs, its purpose and impact to make each businesses sustainable. The wonderful part also it ables you to identify your purpose
— Grace MD
Great course, very interactive, informative and inspirational. Very well structured with a wealth of additional information available. Thoroughly enjoyed myself doing this course!
— Elena L
This course was really helpful in furthering my knowledge and skills on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It really made an impact on my behavior as an individual, and reassured me of the importance of the actions of an individual (Hummingbird) as a positive force.
— Samandar W
Very well designed program with interesting and inspiring real business cases to understand how relevant stakeholders - from public sector, private sector to academia work together on sustainable development goal 2030.
— Yoonseon O
I thoroughly enjoyed this course as it gave me the needed insights and perspectives for the need for sustainability and how it can be applied to businesses and individual lives.
— Akor AW
A great introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals with terrific real life examples. This course was put together very well and is easy to follow along with and complete.
— Brandi C
Meet the instructor
Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools.

RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers.
Patrick Jones - Course author

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