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In Davos, students share their ideas on a BNP Paribas case study to direct financial investment to the achievement of the UN SDGs within the Corporate Knights-Schulich annual competition

Today, in collaboration with BNP Paribas, MBA students from the University of Laval, the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey competed in the final round of the Business for a Better World Case Competition. Middlebury Institute took the top spot. The annual competition is hosted by Corporate Knights and the Schulich School of Business and takes place in Davos, Switzerland each year, coinciding with the World Economic Forum.

BNP Paribas is one of the first global companies having placed the UN SDGs at the heart of their corporate mission. To achieve these SDGs, the Group is developing the positive impact business, which combines economic activity and positive impact related to environment, social inclusion, education, diversity, geographical development, etc. BNP Paribas partnered with the competition and submitted to students an accurate and detailed business challenge. The students were challenged to develop a new business idea for the BNP Paribas’ Corporate & Institutional activity, in line with the strategy of the Group to develop financially viable products and services that direct meaningful investment towards the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. 

These students represent the future generation of economic leaders. The way they see their mission is critical for society. They will have to design a fairer economy that is more ecological and more respectful of human rights. The projects presented today by the students are beneficial for people and communities. As a bank, we need to engage with this generation in our ambition to build the financial solutions of tomorrow. All companies have a role to play in contributing to an economic model which encompasses both financial performance and a positive impact on society.” said Antoine Sire, Director of the Company Engagement department, BNP Paribas, and member of the BNP Paribas Group Executive Committee.

“Middlebury won over the judges with their idea for financing smart roads with a comprehensive approach to address sustainable infrastructure which has spill over benefits for a plethora of sustainable development goals.said Dirk Matten, Professor of Strategy; Hewlett-Packard Chair in Corporate Social Responsibility at Schulich School of Business, York University.The idea is a stunning one as they combine solar technology, wireless technology and complex financial engineering.”

McGill came a close second with their idea for HER (Higher Education Right) Bonds to provide low cost loans to make it possible for low and middle income young women in India to access higher education. The HER Bond includes two features that reduce risk for investors as well as interest rates for students, with a partial guarantee provided by the state, and first loss provision taken on by impact investors on 30% of each bond issue.

Laval proposed a blockchain based investment model for sustainable development goal impact investing.

28 teams from 17 business schools worldwide participated in the competition, and a wide variety of ideas were proposed for BNP Paribas ranging from the issuance of specialised social impact bonds to an idea to creating new operational business units. Through 2 rounds over the last few months, an internal panel from BNP Paribas and Corporate Knights selected the top 3 teams to present their ideas at the final event in Davos.

The final round judges included:

  • Antoine Sire, Director of the Company Engagement department, BNP Paribas, and member of the BNP Paribas Group Executive Committee

  • Michael O. Okoroafor, Ph.D., Vice President, Global Sustainability & Packaging Innovation, McCormick & Company, Inc.

  • Steve Waygood, Chief Responsible Investment Officer, Aviva

  • Pauliina Murphy, Head of International Government Engagement, Aviva

  • Dirk Matten, Professor of Strategy; Hewlett-Packard Chair in Corporate Social Responsibility; Associate Dean, Research, Schulich School of Busines

  • Sean Flannery, Former CIO, SSgA

  • Charmiane Love, Co-chair, B Lab UK

The competition, now in its fifth year, tasks MBA students with solving a timely sustainability-related business problem. Past topics have included improving Suncor’s sustainability performance and decarbonizing the Norwegian Oil Fund.

“The path to the sustainable development goals will only be built if it is financed. The student teams who presented today inspire hope that the next generation of business leaders is well poised to restore the noble role of finance in service of society’s needs,” said Toby Heaps, CEO of Corporate Knights.

On January 22nd 2018, Corporate Knights published the results of its Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World Index. Published every year, this ranking distinguishes the 100 companies that are doing the most to promote sustainable development worldwide and are succeeding in balancing financial performance with corporate social responsibility.

In 2018, BNP Paribas was ranked 36th by Corporate Knights, up by 6 places compared to 2017 and 1st European Bank of the index. This achievement is a recognition of the efforts made by all of the Bank’s businesses to attain the environmental, social and governance targets we have set for ourselves.

Corporate Knights

Corporate Knights Inc. includes the business and society magazine Corporate Knights and a research division that produces rankings and financial product ratings based on corporate sustainability performance. In 2013, Corporate Knights was named "Magazine of the Year" by Canada's National Magazine Awards Foundation.

About Schulich

Known as Canada’s Global Business School™, the Schulich School of Business in Toronto is ranked among the world’s leading business schools by a number of global surveys. Schulich’s MBA program is ranked #2 in the world by Corporate Knights, the world’s largest circulation magazine with an explicit focus on Corporate Social Responsibility, in a global survey that identifies which schools are doing the best job of preparing future business leaders for the environmental, social and ethical complexities of modern-day business. Schulich’s MBA program is also ranked #1 in Canada and among the world’s leading schools by The Economist, Forbes, CNN Expansión and América Economía. Schulich is also ranked among the world’s top 35 business schools for a career in investment banking in a global survey by The Kellogg-Schulich EMBA program is ranked #5 in the world by The Economist and #1 in Canada by the Financial Times of London.

About BNP Paribas

BNP Paribas is a leading bank in Europe with an international reach. It has a presence in 74 countries, with more than 192,000 employees, including more than 146,000 in Europe. The Group has key positions in its three main activities: Domestic Markets and International Financial Services (whose retail-banking networks and financial services are covered by Retail Banking & Services) and Corporate & Institutional Banking, which serves two client franchises: corporate clients and institutional investors. The Group helps all its clients (individuals, community associations, entrepreneurs, SMEs, corporates and institutional clients) to realise their projects through solutions spanning financing, investment, savings and protection insurance. In Europe, the Group has four domestic markets (Belgium, France, Italy and Luxembourg) and BNP Paribas Personal Finance is the European leader in consumer lending.

BNP Paribas is rolling out its integrated retail-banking model in Mediterranean countries, in Turkey, in Eastern Europe and a large network in the western part of the United States. In its Corporate & Institutional Banking and International Financial Services activities, BNP Paribas also enjoys top positions in Europe, a strong presence in the Americas as well as a solid and fast-growing business in Asia-Pacific.