With its aim to be the first European city to achieve zero CO2 emissions by 2050 and an overwhelming number of the population concerned about the climate crisis, Amsterdam is devoted to the UN's Sustainability Goals.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a call for all countries to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. The SDGs can be seen as a blueprint for a sustainable future and to achieve their goals they need to be localized, to which cities play a vital role.
Amsterdam is working to contribute to the implementation of SDGs through their many sustainable developments as well as a Voluntary Local Review (VLR) which maps out what is being done in the city using SDGs as a common language.
This commitment to the SDGs show Amsterdam is an ideal city to develop a career in the sustainability field, and boasts a top MBA that emphasizes sustainability and career development.
Here are four ways you could launch a career in sustainable development, contributing to UN sustainability goals, with an Amsterdam MBA.
1. You will study a contemporary curriculum that prioritizes sustainable development.
The MBA from the UvA Amsterdam Business School is built on the ethos that business schools should be a force for good in society. UvA teaches students about corporate governance, competitive yet responsible renumeration, and ethical management of the workplace and the world.
The SDGs are key strategic pillars in UvA's programs. Its MBA exemplifies this by offering three ‘Leaders in Business and Society’ scholarships worth €10,000 each. Scholarships are awarded to applicants who have written an essay illustrating how they have contributed to the SDGs in their careers so far.
UvA is committed to modernizing its curriculum to teach its students how to become sustainable leaders.
"Most people are already convinced that sustainability is important and a cornerstone of good business. What people are looking for right now is ways to implement it," says Dr. Gijs van Houwelingen who teaches Ethics, Responsibility, and Sustainability.
Gijs's class is one example of this contemporary curriculum, but UvA has also added classes such as Conscious Marketing and Purpose Driven Strategy.
Gijs starts Ethics, Responsibility, and Sustainability with what he calls a slightly depressing class on the state of the world and the IPCC report, which details the severe impacts of climate change before moving on to some more action-oriented classes on designing sustainable strategies and implementing sustainable business models.
"Sustainability can be very overwhelming and abstract, and we take it to the ground and talk about what companies can do regarding their business model. And what can you do within that organization to bring about required changes?"
To do that, Gijs uses case studies and concrete examples of topics such as circularity in supply chains and how companies such as Patagonia and Lego are helping to close the loop, by facilitating the resale of their products.
2. Learn through practical experience with a diverse cohort of classmates
UvA emphasizes experiential learning. In Ethics, Responsibility, and Sustainability, students work with the Dutch offshoot of the phone company Vodafone on a project to improve their sustainability considerations.
This year Gijs's class worked on projects including packaging, where they came up with ideas such as bamboo packaging and returning packaging for a discount. One group every year is selected to present their idea to the Vodafone board, some of which Vodafone has implemented.
The practical application was a highlight of Teresa Brose's time at UvA. Teresa, a German native, was in the MBA class of 2020 and now works as a corporate consultant at Empact, an ESG consultancy.
Teresa's interest in ESG was sparked when she traveled around India and realized she wanted to contribute more to the world and not simply earn to pay the bills. The MBA's mix between technical skills and sustainability allowed her to realize her dream of contributing while having a steady job.
Teresa took Ethics, Responsibility, and Sustainability with Professor Arno Kourula, whom she loved for his laidback approach and insight into the corporate world, where he still works as a consultant.
"It was a good approach to mixing theory and practical application. The assignments were often practical, but we still needed to connect them with research," Teresa says.
UvA boasts a reputable MBA program with small, interactive classes, and a diverse student body, with almost 80% coming from outside the Netherlands, and more women than men. Teresa found the diversity of her classmates' backgrounds beneficial as she learned to work effectively in a team of varying voices and opinions.
"The group's diversity is challenging, and we have various ages, professional backgrounds, and nationalities. With the group work, people have opinions that you don't share at all, and you need to deal with it politely and constructively," Teresa explains.
3. You are immersed in a city intimately connected with SDGs
Students at the UvA MBA live in a city and a country where sustainability goals and climate preservation are a priority.
Cities adopting SDGs is essential to their success. A total of 68% of the world’s population is projected to live in urban areas by 2050, according to the UN, and cities are estimated to generate 80% of global economic growth.
Amsterdam was ranked 10th most sustainable city in the world by the latest report from the engineering organization Arcadis. The country has pledged to double wind energy production, and the City of Amsterdam also has plans to become climate neutral and a circular city by 2050.
As part of its broader green recovery, the City of Amsterdam has become the first municipality in the world to adopt the doughnut economic mode, meaning it reuses raw and other materials repeatedly to avoid waste and close production cycles, a symbol of commitment to SDGs.
4. You will be given top career opportunities
The Amsterdam MBA gives students ample opportunity to network and gain top careers, particularly in areas such as ESG. From the class of 2022, almost all (97%) of alumni found a job within three months of graduation.
Amsterdam has personalized one-to-one career guidance where students explore their skills, talents, and interests and set on achieving their career ambitions. UVA maintains contacts with all alumni, allowing you to network with influential companies.
Teresa received her role at Empact from the connection she made with Martin de Jong, the company's founder, when he was a guest speaker in her Purpose Driven Strategy course.
When Teresa started her thesis on the consulting approach framework for ESG she connected with Martin who supported her work and, later asked her to join Empact.
“Now, no matter what business-related topic you throw at me, I have the methodologies to acquire the necessary knowledge to understand it at a certain level."