Prof. Robert Gateru, Vice Chancellor, Riara University gave the opening and welcome remarks. He introduced the university founders, Prof. E. Gachukia and Mr. D. Gachukia and thanked them for their support. He welcomed all in attendance and invited them to the conference discussions.
Prof. Abel Kinoti, Dean, School of Business set the tone for the conference deliberations by introducing the conference theme and the key discussants. He explained the Sustainable Development Goals blue print as moving from decisions to action. Under the SDGs, it was highlighted that Africa must be for Africa so that we all move together. He pointed out that the outcome of the Riara Conference will be discussed at the AIB conference in 2017 to be held in Dubai. He reiterated the need for Universities to come together to advance discussions around the SDGs and sustainable investment. The role of AIB in advancing this agenda was critical and the AIB SSA chapter was proposed as a vehicle through which institutions and individuals can support the ongoing initiatives. Sustainable investment is about people, planet and profits. The conference outputs would form one agenda of the World Investment Forum under the Trade and Development theme.
Prof. A. Gonzalez- Perez, Vice President AIB was the first speaker on the conference theme. She made a presentation on UN Universal Sustainable Development Goals. It was noted that there are 17 goals, 169 targets and 230 indicators in the SDGs framework that makes it twice as broad as the Millennium Development Goals that were concluded in 2015. The SDGs are generally wider, deeper and well originated. It is hoped that SDGs will be more successful than the MDGs due to their perceived greater acceptance.
On Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Prof. Gonzalez noted the need to move from public relations driven CSR to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) framework that is more progressive, broader and sustainable. The Global Reporting Initiative was also discussed and the GRI compass on performance measurement briefly explained. She gave examples of socially responsible companies in Columbia.
Prof. Tomas Hult, Executive Director, AIB spoke about Global business and emphasized the new trends in international business. He projected the future trends in international business given the adoption of SDGs.
Dr. Sekai Nzenza, MD, Amatheon Agri gave a case analysis of sustainable development drawn from Amatheon Agri Zimbabwe Ltd. She brought out the key themes of sustainability as inclusivity and poverty reduction. She also emphasized the impact that investment has on people’s wellbeing must also be measurable. She summed up her presentation by noting that there is need to improve agricultural value chain to substitute food imports.
Dr. J. Otieno, from Management University of Africa gave remarks on the UNCTAD conference proceedings and observed the need to move together as the critical success factor for SDGs. She lauded efforts to bring universities and academicians under one progressive forum to support SDGs. She noted that the universities should advice the government on what to do to realize the SDGs.
Prof. B. Ndemo Former PS, Ministry of Information and Communication & Prof. University of Nairobi highlighted the potential that African has in the global arena. He emphasized the need for research and standardization and important aspects that will lead to development in Africa. The need for greater access to credit was highlighted as important for local businesses. He noted that due to failure to follow standards, Africa has nothing to sell to the world. He challenged the delegates to identify the blind spots in research in Africa by going to the market and learning from customers and disseminating that knowledge.
Mr John Wali-Junior Achievers wrapped up the discussions by showing a captivating and challenging video on the potential that African youth have. He asked how many young people know the SDGs and for sure most of them did not know them. He challenged the young people to view problems as opportunities and to accept to begin small and carefully plan their growth and expansion. He briefly explained the role of young people in SDGs.
A plenary session was moderated by Dr. M. Kinoti and Dr. D. Rwehumbiza where a wide range of conference theme focused comments and questions were raised. Some of the recommendations include: Active role of universities in realization of SDGs through research on real issues in the society; bringing solutions to policy makers; engaging in writing to communicate to the world; individualism as the enemy to peace, justice and strong institutions; avoidance of operating in silos was viewed as the sole fiber of sustainability; Moving from decision to action.
The conference ended with a vote of thanks from Moses Oyoo- President Riara University students Association andProf. Faith Nguru- DVC-Academics Riara University
Below are a few photos of the conference: