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Acting Head of the Department of Risk Management and Insurance C.E. Tourbina spoke about the new MGIMO Master’s program “Sustainable Development Management”.

— The Program “Sustainable Development Management is new for MGIMO. Why did our university decide to take a course on staff training in the area of the ESG agenda?

The decision to open a specialized new master’s program “Management of Sustainable Development” was made by the Academic Council of MGIMO on March 30th of this year, alongside the decision to establish the MGIMO Center for Sustainable Development (MCUR).

Over the past year, the theme of sustainable development within the framework of the implementation of the targets of the UN General Assembly Resolution of September 25, 2015 “Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” has acquired a completely different importance and dynamics of decision-making in Europe and in the world. This encouraged both the Russian authorities and market participants, especially those involved in international trade, to take practical actions and solutions on reducing the carbon footprint of their commercial activities, take into account the climate risks in medium and long-term strategies, and change the management paradigm considering the achievement of sustainable development goals.

It is clear that corporate ESG strategies and practices should be prepared and implemented by specialists who understand the concept of sustainable development, the goals of adopting strategies and the balance between the resources, opportunities, transition speed, and are able to assess the benefits that the transition to a new economic mindset provides to the companies. This area is the main focus of training master’s degree students in the new program.

— To develop such a program, you need a serious expertise and a highly qualified teaching staff. Tell us who will be giving lectures to master’s degree students? Do you plan to invite foreign professors?

Over the years, MGIMO has accumulated professional and pedagogical experience in various areas of sustainable development. These programs will form the basis for the professional training of a sustainable development manager.

Just this year, at MGIMO, the ESG agenda has already been raised at several events of the highest level. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, his Special Adviser on Climate Action Selwin Hart, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for Relations with International Organisations to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals Anatoly Chubais and Adviser to the President of Russia, Special Representative of the President on Climate Issues Ruslan Edelgeriev spoke about sustainable development.

Furthermore, since March, seven meetings have been held in different areas of ESG within the framework of the MCUR Debate Club (recording sessions are available on the MGIMO YouTube channel). We have formed a first-class team of experts in the main areas of the current ESG agenda: green finance, rating principles, non-financial reporting, climate and environmental risks, alternative energy economics, social risks management.

Many companies are leaders in the green transition, such as Russian Railways, Danon, Coca-Cola, IKEA, Novolipetsk Steel, SIBUR, Sberbank, Zurich Reliable Insurance, Moscow Exchange, Russian and foreign rating agencies and many others, and are ready to act as tutors for our master’s degree students in the preparation of ESG strategies in specific industries and business segments.

Cooperation with foreign business schools is a very important topic for the professional training of students. However, it should be noted that there are only a few established foreign programs with a stable profile of training sustainable development managers. We are negotiating with the Utrecht Business School, we have developed interesting contacts within the framework of the Trianon Dialogue, and I think the format of such interaction will be clear in the near future.

In any case, the MGIMO platform is one of the most professional for the dialogue on sustainable development with the involvement of specialists of any level and countries. Climate risks and problems of the green transition are becoming the most important pragmatic topic that affects the interests of all countries and the business community.

— The main issue that worries all graduate students is job prospects and practical skills, and hard skills that they will acquire during their studies. What can you say to potential applicants who are just selecting this program for themselves?

Specialists are required now in a wide variety of industries, I would say, in all: from the financial sector to building companies. As for the professional competencies that a master’s student program should form, briefly: to know what is “ESG” as a concept, its physical manifestation and ultimate goals for different sectors of the economy; be able to conduct due diligence of the current state of compliance with ESG metrics of a particular company, city, and region; develop a green pivot roadmap, balanced in terms of resources, timing and goals; defend this work on the board of directors, and be able to achieve the set goals; have, for these purposes, the knowledge of risk management and project finance, non-financial reporting, rating best practices, exchange and bank disclosure requirements, supplier evaluation in chains of contract partners, environmental and climate risk management, etc.

— Who is this program suitable for? Describe the profile of your potential applicant.

We have not seen yet such a systematic approach to the problems, as we have managed to form among Russian universities. The opportunity for a MGIMO master’s student to receive a logically structured, systematic and consistent program of knowledge and competencies in the field of sustainable development, ESG planning and implementation skills gives him fantastic career advantages.

Our potential student is a young man who understands that the future of our planet depends on him, his active life position will allow us to raise issues of green perception of the world and its values with the management of his company, region, public, world community, professionals in this environment. At the same time, he understands that he has got an incredible chance as in the next five years, the demand for specialists of this profile will only increase. He wants to learn programmatic business planning, be able to manage ESG risks, build models and scenarios for the restructuring of companies, enter the formed community of professionals and strive for the correct perception of sustainable development by the next generations of citizens of our country.

— What can future graduates of the Master’s program “Sustainable Development Management” do in this context?

They should do all of the above-mentioned, and this will be the best way of self-realization and career growth.

To apply