MSM students, alumni and staff #act4SDGs in Maastricht


On Wednesday 25 September, Maastricht School of Management partnered up with Mondiaal Maastricht and the city of Maastricht to celebrate the birthday of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, also known as Global Goals) during the Act for Global Goals Day.

Hosted in the beautiful 17th century city hall, the event brought together entrepreneurs and citizens, policymakers and researchers, activists and investors, and included a rich and inspiring program featuring a Global Goals Conference, a Global Goals market, a Global Goals Movie Night, a lecture on the Circular Economy and a series of Global Goals Lessons for about 750 children studying at local elementary schools.

“We can only achieve the SDGs if we act together locally,” said Hermina Kooyman, Manager Enrollment and Career Services. “As a signatory of the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) and one of the founding members of the PRME France-Benelux Chapter, MSM is always looking for more ways to show our commitment to the SDGs, and this starts by making an impact locally as well. We are delighted to see that many among our incoming students and recent graduates have answered our invitation to participate in the event. Two new MSM students, Sang Tran and Sofia Neria Gonzalez, both said that they immediately signed up to get involved as volunteers in the event.

Sang Tran: “I come from Vietnam and I would like to live in a world with less plastic. I have only been in Maastricht for one week but I have already noticed that I need to bring my own bag when I go shopping or pay more if I need to buy one. I noticed that many young people at the conference today do not want to drink from plastic-coated coffee cups that cannot be recycled. During my year in Maastricht, I want to try to stop using plastic, or at least to reduce my use of plastic as much as possible."

Sofia Neria Gonzalez: “I arrived from Mexico one and a half week ago to study in the Master of Management program. Back home, like in many developing countries, we are not used to taking care of the environment. But I think that sustainability is a matter that concerns us all. I see myself as a global citizen and I take action on my own, such as separating rubbish and taking shorter showers. I have always felt empathy with the less privileged and a responsibility to create a better world with a better distribution of resources for all. The conference today is even better than I had imagined. The organizers, the Mayor, the speakers, everyone here feels the importance of standing for the SDGs. I wish Mexico would organize this type of event.”

The Act4GlobalGoals conference offered nearly 20 interactive workshops and lectures, all designed to increase awareness, develop understanding and build local leadership for the Global Goals in Maastricht and its region. Dr. Nora Stel, Assistant Professor in Governance, Migration and Human Rights at MSM, hosted one of the sessions.

In her talk, she examined to what extent current international and European migration policies are in tune with the promise of the SDGs. More specifically, she explored what the SDGs say about migration, mobility, and forced displacement and critically compared the theory on paper with the current reality of the European refugee regime.

Dr. Nora Stel: “The SDGs offer a lot of potential but there is still a lot to be done. The SDGs are aspirations, functioning as non-legally binding commitments and agreements among nation states. Although in principle they are universal and apply to everyone, in reality, this universality does not seem to encompass vulnerable groups such as migrants who have an ambiguous status and relation to states and governments.”

Dr. Stel invited the participants to reflect on how to better leverage the promise of the SDGs for refugees: “In your opinion, is it helpful to insist on making legally binding commitments? Should we prioritize the regional perspective or look closer to home? What are the most likely agents of change? Governments, civil society actors or businesses? On what level can these commitments best be realized (international, national, local/urban) and how do these levels relate?” Finally, she asked what could be the role of a Global Goals city like Maastricht in providing answers to these questions and concluded on a challenging note: “Maybe that’s what the SDGs can help us to question, whether they are really benefitting everyone. We can all be refugees.”

MBA student Alpha Ousmane Aw, described the day as a success: “It gave a chance to the citizens of Maastricht to improve and share their knowledge about the SDGs. This is important because achieving the SDGs cannot be a top down effort. All 193 countries adopted the SDGs to reduce inequality and achieve more peace and prosperity, and have less hunger, less war. The 17 goals are important for every single person in this world. As a graduate of MSM, which is one of the partners of this event, it is my role to be here and to guide the participants and participate in the workshop and in the discussions.

“It felt good to #act4Maastricht together.”

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