IEU Experience

05/02/2024

Students at IE University continuously benefit from our world-class reputation and contacts with leading professionals and notable public figures.

Recently, we held a one-of-a-kind masterclass geared toward undergraduate students of our international relations and economics programs. The “Strategy and Reality of Achieving the SDGs: The Case of Columbia” masterclass was delivered by Iván Duque Márquez, where he shared unique insights on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, environmental sustainability and the keys to development. 

Iván Duque Márquez comes to IE University

Iván Duque Márquez is the former President of the Republic of Colombia who served from 2018 to 2022. He is also a celebrated lawyer, politician and writer. 

His government programs were based on the principles of Legality, Entrepreneurship and Egality; they have been commended for their role in expanding environmental protection, combating deforestation, protecting the Amazon Basin and Biome and boosting energy production from renewable sources. Iván Duque Márquez’s fight against climate change has inspired many, including students at IE University.

Through his week-long visit to IE University, Mr. Duque engaged with the wider IE Community through various events, talks and discussions. He was also inducted as the first-ever Fellow of the Distinguished Fellowship Program, just launched at IE University’s School of Politics, Economics and Global Affairs.

Students gain valuable insights

In his masterclass, Mr. Duque explored the importance of the SDGs and how international relations professionals can advance them through their work. María Isabel Merino Sarmiento, who studies the Dual Degree in Economics & International Relations, was in attendance and she highlights her learnings about sustainability. “While the SDGs may seem like an unachievable utopian concept—especially after the global pandemic—they are highly important in today’s world as they act as guidelines for governments,” she explains. 

From Mr. Duque, she also discovered that, for the SDGs to be achieved, it’s essential for governments to include them in their national development strategies. They must be prioritized, well-defined with clear targets and assigned to specific government officials to ensure accountability. Mr. Duque gave real examples of how this approach proved successful under his leadership in Colombia. 

The masterclass also incorporated insights from Mr. Duque’s new book “Nuestro Futuro,” or “Our Future.” It is a worthwhile read, but what piqued Maria’s interest most was Mr. Duque’s approach to environmental sustainability. “The combination of politics, insights into the private sector and his experience as a former president has allowed him to write a manifesto in which he invites leaders around the world to start caring about natural preservation. There is no planet B.” 

Small steps toward progress

Alvaro Santiago Rocha Duarte studies the Dual Degree in Business Administration & International Relations and had some other takeaways from the event. What really spoke to him was just how essential collaboration is to making any headway toward sustainability and climate action. 

“The Sustainable Development Goals unite countries and international organizations through a shared vision of progress. Bilateral partnerships between neighboring countries have enabled policies to protect shared environments, like the Amazon Rainforest,” Alvaro states. 

He also learned the importance of public-private sector collaboration to truly effect change. Naturally, any decisions taken by relevant stakeholders should be based on scientific evidence to have the greatest impact in preserving the natural world and minimizing disruption to local communities.

A beneficial discussion

Through the masterclass, Alvaro and his fellow students gained a new perspective on sustainability, as well as the role that effective leadership plays in effecting positive change. “Perseverance, discipline and resilience in the face of adversity are hallmarks of principled leadership,” he says. “Leading by example motivates teams and fosters a culture of excellence within organizations.” 

Iván Duque Márquez’s visit to IE University was a rousing success. His sustainability masterclass opened students’ eyes to the potential of international relations to move society toward a sustainable future. In the end, students were inspired to immerse themselves even more in their academic program—all in the quest to help create a better tomorrow.