Conducted in partnership with the UK Government’s Sustainable Development Education Panel, the survey has revealed a difficulties in spreading understanding of sustainable development in the wider business community.

This comes despite the fact that UK Government Departments and many high profile businesses have made sustainable development an integral feature of long term policy.

Forum for the Future’s call for all UK business schools/ university departments to make a higher priority of sustainable development has been supported by David Blunkett, Secretary of State for Education and Employment: “The findings of the survey show that business educators can do more to prepare the business leaders of the future to meet the challenge of sustainable development. Future business success will depend increasingly on how well companies meet this challenge. I hope that all involved in the education of today’s business students will act on the survey’s findings to develop and implement sustainable development education strategies.”

An extended statement of support has been signed by 34 companies with which Forum for the Future is connected, including BAA, ICI, J. Sainsbury, Jaguar Cars, London Transport, National Power, the Post Office, Tarmac, Volvo Cars, and Northumbrian, Thames, Wessex and Yorkshire Water Companies.

“Most UK business schools are way behind on this,” said Jonathon Porritt, Programme Director of Forum for the Future. “When pressed to explain why sustainable development has such a low profile on their course, the usual comment is that there is ‘no demand’ for it. Thirty-four leading UK companies, plus the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, would like them to know that they’re wrong about this. The demand is there: it’s the supply side that is weak.”

In partnership with the Government’s Sustainable Development Education Panel, Forum for the Future has produced a detailed specification for promoting sustainable development education in UK business schools/ university departments. This is now being circulated to those who previously received the findings of the survey, with a view to encouraging them to think creatively about the content of the courses offered from September 1999 onwards.

Jonathon Porritt pointed out that: “If future business leaders don’t understand the broad context, let alone the specific issues behind sustainable development, and are not aware of the contribution that business is now making in this area, then they will be finishing their courses inadequately prepared to cope with the new commercial environment in which they will be operating.”

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