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Thomas Dyllick is a pioneer of sustainability management. Throughout his life as a researcher, he has focused on how sustainable economic activities work. He was already dealing with issues of climate policy as a student and doctoral student at the HSG as early as the 1970s.
"We must respect the limits of this world and integrate them into the economy."
It was with the Declaration of Rio in 1992 that a new era of international climate policy started. For most business universities, sustainable development was still an exotic issue at that time. Not so in St.Gallen: Thomas Dyllick and a group of researchers working on environmental economics set up the Institute for Economy and the Environment. In his capacity as a professor, he laid the cornerstone for ecological business ideas in many students. He preferred to work in collaboratories, a form of teaching that is based on cooperation. Between 2003 and 2011, he held the office of an HSG Vice-President. He pushed ecological topics and enshrined sustainability issues in research and teaching. Thomas Dyllick championed an environmentally friendly campus infrastructure, cut energy consumption with the help of a working group, and was actively committed to a better ecological footprint of campus operations. Together with his team, he developed a mission statement for sustainability and responsibility, which the HSG implemented and is still pursuing in keeping with the PRME principles (UN Principles of Responsible Management Education). With the adoption of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) by many companies, the issue that is closest to his heart − sustainability management − increased in significance once more. A travelling exhibition by the photographer Dario Lanfranconi illustrated the SDGs in the foyer of the Main Building in October 2018.
When the St.Galler Tagblatt daily newspaper asked him whether progressive climate change after 40 years of sustainability management did not frustrate him, he answered: “I’m a realist, but primarily an optimist. When I do something, then I do it with enthusiasm and commitment. Even when some of the signs are negative, I’m still sure: there’s no getting away from sustainability. We’re more and more people and we consume more and more, but the world remains the same size. Therefore we must respect the limits of this world and integrate it into the economy. We must become smarter. I think we’ll manage.”
Thomas Dyllick’s successor Judith Walls inherits an inspiring place of thought leadership with strong roots in business, academia and society. Since his farewell lecture in November 2018, he has been working with doctoral students, has headed the Diploma in Advanced Sustainability together with Katrin Muff and has fulfilled the interim function of President’s Delegate for Sustainability and Responsibility.