The 2021 edition of the forum was attended by industry leaders including Acciona, Hemper, Creas, Symbeeosis and other key sustainability stakeholders from both the public and private sectors.

The Fourth Sector, food system sustainability and the concept of a regenerative economy were the main focus of the 2021 Social Responsibility Forum (SRF), which returned to its face-to-face format on November 23, 2021. This exciting one-day event, brought together faculty members, IE University alumni, current students and environmental and social impact professionals from across the globe.

“This student-led initiative provides an opportunity for students to interact with business leaders, industrialists, scientists and policy makers in order to address pressing issues,” says Jaya Surya Sakthivel, co-president of Net Impact Club. Now over a decade old, the forum primarily serves as a platform to help both students and graduates become more socially responsible members of the international business community.

The 2021 edition was inspired in part by the book Green Swans: The Coming Boom in Regenerative Capitalism by John Elkington, inventor of the triple bottom line concept. His latest work explains the importance of building resistance into companies, supply chains and economies by shifting our focus from sustainability to regeneration in order to achieve a net positive future. 

“Green swans are dynamics, trajectories or pathways that take us exponentially toward things that we do want to see,” explains Elkington. He advocates for a politics of recognition both in terms of the harm that has already been done to the planet and the inequalities that exist in society, in order for significant breakthroughs to be achieved moving forward.

The forum itself consisted of two main panel discussions, with attendees also invited to engage in interactive Q&A sessions. The first of the two centered around the emergence of the so-called fourth sector, and specifically how for-profit organizations are working to become gradually more regenerative. The fourth sector refers to those businesses that aim to restore or nurture the balance between society, nature and economic activity.

Meanwhile, the second panel focused on unlocking the potential of food systems, which are all too often characterized by unsustainable patterns and dysfunctionalities. The discussion specifically addressed several gaps that could be filled from a sustainability and social impact perspective, and the potential impact of urban policies and land use planning on food security.

“We had a great lineup of companies this year, including Acciona, Creas; start-ups like Symbeeosis and Hemper; and representatives from the City Council of Madrid,” explains Jaya Surya Sakthivel. 

IE University’s Social Responsibility Forum is an annual event organized by the IE Net Impact Club. Now part of the recently established IE Sustainability Committee, the club strives to foster a professional network for future leaders in social impact areas, and serves as an intermediary for communication and collaboration between IE University students, the school, its alumni and professionals interested and active in responsible business.

Yoko Kojima, co-president of Net Impact Club, took advantage of the occasion to thank IE Campus Life, IE Foundation and the university’s various faculties for their help and support in putting together this year’s forum, and for all the great work they do year round.