'No Poverty': The inventive way students are working towards Sustainable Development Goals

A challenging new competition is upending the way UNSW Business School students are thinking about global citizenship and sustainability.

| 27 Jul 2021

How can businesses solve real-world problems and contribute to sustainable communities?

It's a pressing issue and one that UNSW Business School’s finalists explored during the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Challenge, now in its second year. 

This year's competitors were asked to focus on the United Nation's first SDG: No Poverty. The competitors were asked to create guidelines on how governments in partnership with businesses can develop resilient and sustainable communities in a future shaped by climate-induced crises.  

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"The topic of poverty was agreed on between us and the Global Consulting Group (GCG)," explained Dr Natalie Oh, senior lecturer in the School of Banking and Finance, UNSW Business School. 

"COVID-19 has exacerbated the problem of poverty even for a rich country like Australia, with 13.6% or one in eight Australians already living below the poverty line."

"The consequences of poverty – such as domestic violence and mental health – is something that we wanted students to think about."

How does the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Challenge work?

This year, 31 teams from UNSW Business School battled it out for the top prize, working with Business School staff, and the pro-bono, student-run GCG on preparing their consults. 

As well as undertaking the promotion and event organisation, GCG prepared and trained students for the finals with workshops introducing the students to consulting techniques. 

The four finalist teams presented their finalised guidelines on how they would achieve the goal of “No Poverty” to a panel of judges that included experts from Google, the Institute for Global Development, PwC and UNSW Business School.

When asked what made the winning team’s ideas the most impressive, Oh put Evadel Consulting’s success down to two things: clear communication and comprehensive analysis.

"What we mean by clear communication is that the solution to the problem wasn't hypothetical or idealistic, it was realistic," she said. 

"The winning team narrowed their focus of the problem instead of attempting to do too much and came to us with a clear and appealing response that both takes a practical approach and could be implemented today."

See also: How to lead a business with purpose 

When did the SDG Challenge begin?

The SDG Challenge first ran in 2020 as a collaboration between UNSW Business School academics, students, and industry partners Deloitte, BIS Oxford Economics and International Universities Alliances. 

The aim was to engage first-year business school undergraduate students in a challenging case competition: where they could learn about the SDGs by constructively exploring the role of businesses in solving real-world problems and contributing to sustainable communities. 

"The UNSW motto is not just hand and mind – it includes heart as well," says Oh when asked about the motivation behind initiating the competition for students. 

Student Bao Qi Deng (BCom/Infs) was one of the members of the winning team, Evedal Consulting
Student Bao Qi Deng (BCom/Infs) was one of the members of the winning team, Evedal Consulting

"We would like UNSW students to be global citizens. Not just caring about themselves but looking to the world and being part of the solution for others and the environment."

The SDG Challenge has now been integrated to the new BCom program and students earn points for participating which can contribute to their BCom Portfolio.

Where to next for the SDG Challenge?

Founders Oh and Dr Louise Fitzgerald, UNSW Business School, hope that the competition will be run between UNSW and other domestic and international universities in the future.

 

Congratulations and thanks

Congratulations to winning team Evedal Consulting for the quality of presentations and their creative solutions proposed to tackle poverty in Australia:
•    Alan Ji (BCom/Engo)
•    Bao Qi Deng (BCom/Infs)
•    Kelly Liu (BCom/Law)
•    Vivi Mi (BCom)

All four team members will receive a Swag Pack from Google and are fast-tracked to a final-stage interview to join GCG UNSW for T2-T3 2021. 

Many thanks go out to the SDG industry judges:
•    Jonathan O'Kane: Talent & Outreach program specialist – Google
•    Professor David Sanderson: Lead, Institute for Global Development
•    Brian Wong: Senior Associate – PwC 
•    Dr Natalie Oh: Senior lecturer UNSW Business School

The Global Consulting Group (GCG) is a pro-bono, student-run and student-led consulting organisation. 

 

To find out more about GCG, head to the Global Consulting Group (GCG) page.

To learn more about the event and the UN SDG Goals check out our event landing page.