Bernardo M. Villegas
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Sustainable Development at All Levels

           In teaching beginning students enrolled in the Introduction to Economics course in the different universities I have taught, which include Harvard College, De La Salle University, University of the Philippines and the University of Asia and the Pacific, I make it a point to distinguish among economic growth, economic development and integral human development.  Economic growth has to do with the increase in the amount of goods and services produced in any given economy from one year to another.  Economic development ensures that economic growth is being shared equitably among the entire population and that growth today does not prejudice the welfare of future generations.  In short economic development includes growth, equity and sustainability.  The young people have a special appreciation for sustainability because it is their future that is at stake.  Integral human development which should be the concern of both government and private sector officials is addressed to the good of the whole person who is not only an economic animal:  he has political, social, cultural, moral and spiritual rights as well as responsibilities.

          Sustainability can also, of course, refer to politics, culture, as well as social, moral and spiritual values.  It is for this reason that the University where I now teach, UA&P, has been very active in a private initiative based in Amsterdam.  It is called the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) which aims to make sustainability reporting a standard practice worldwide, thereby helping ensure a sustainable global economy where organizations manage their economic, environmental, social and governance performance.  UA&P has been actively involved in the development of GRI guidelines through one of the university's unit, the Center for Social Responsibility (CSR), one of whose officials, Mr. Colin Legarde Hubo, was elected member of GRI Stakeholder Council from 2007 to 2012. Since academics are usually the most vocal about protecting the environment and making development sustainable, universities should show the way by making their own organizations toe the sustainable line.  They must practice what they preach.

          I am proud of the fact that UA&P is the first university in Southeast Asia to be granted a sustainability disclosure level check.  There are 38 other universities with GRI-checked sustainability reports:  twenty two in Europe, four in the U.S. and Canada, six in Latin America, three in Australia, and three in the rest of Asia.  The "Level Check" received recently by UA&P for its report is the highest entry-level rating awarded to applicant universities worldwide, attesting to (a) a valid representation of the required disclosure items in the five areas of economic, social, environment, governance, and academic performance of the University; and (b) the report's external audit and assurance by competent professionals in the field.  UA&P is the only one among the GRI universities to submit standards and measures for academic performance in the areas of curriculum, level of student performance, faculty development, and alumni.

          UA&P's     Center for Social Responsibility is also currently guiding major Philippine corporations in preparing a continuing GRI sustainability report through the years.  The Center has also conducted two national GRI conferences involving CEOs and other business executives.  It will continue to organize GRI conferences involving business, media, and university youth and educators.  Universities and other educational institutions who would like to be part of the GRI initiative may obtain a copy of UA&P's report entitled "Sustainability in the Academe:  Blazing a Trail," crafted by an ad hoc university committee under the guidance of the CSR of UA&P.  The person to contact is Mr. Colin Hubo at email colin.hubo@uap.asia.   For comments, my email address is bernardo.villegas@uap.asia