Making an Impact (MAI)

OR62 Global Grand Challenge

12:30 - 14:00 | Thursday 17 September 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has turned the world upside down. It has exposed flaws in our economic model and shown systemic inequalities that have hit the most vulnerable the hardest.  As we begin to recover and emerge post-COVID, there is growing momentum in seeking to “build back better”.  

Accelerating and placing increased focus on the achievement of the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals: a blueprint for a better world by 2030.  COVID has left us in a different place, accelerating the urge for action. What we do now will lead to lasting change.


How you can Make an Impact at OR62

Participants will be invited to structure, analyse and respond to the challenge(s) posed. The feasibility of each action will be considered as potential Pro Bono projects, research funding bids, consultancy projects and/or student projects. 

In 2012, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “Our Struggle for Global Sustainability Will Be Won or Lost in Cities”.  The United Nations also recognises systems thinking as one of the four behaviours that international leaders need to adopt in their leadership practice. To this end, the session will ask:

1. How can OR help bring ‘meaningful’ cross-sectoral partnerships to co-create collective action plans with concerned citizens in cities towards the goals?

2. How can the OR community help to support new approaches and build competencies to help achieve the goals, following the call to shift from linear thinking to non-linear systems thinking?

The “Grand Challenges” will be offered by three guest speakers:

Leonardo Maldonado

CEO of Gulliver (a private innovation agency) & Former Executive Director of Sistema B Chile and

Ana Paula Fonseca of Edinburgh Napier University Business School

Leonardo is a founder of the “Cities CAN B” global movement that seeks to engage all the actors of the city to participate collaboratively in its sustainable development. He has published his ideas and experience on getting business and citizens involved in the main issues of Mendoza (Chile) and empowering them in mass collective action – what Leonardo calls “extreme collaboration”.  He is keen to use this approach to envision a new economy that measures success not only in terms of financial profit but in terms of the well-being of people, society, and the environment.  Leonardo will be joined by Ana who is involved in a knowledge transfer project to draw on the experience of Leonardo and other collaborators to establish Edinburgh as the first UK city to be selected to participate in the global Cities CAN B movement. 

Jessica Lobo

Global Goals Programme Manager, UN Global Compact Network UK

Jess is Programme Manager for the UN Global Compact Network in the UK. Providing a unique platform for collaboration across business sectors, civil society and Government to achieve the SDGs.  This year the UN Global Compact (with B-lab UK) has launched the SDG Action Manager to provide all types of businesses with an opportunity to learn about, manage, and directly improve their sustainability performance. This is one way that organisations can act.  This requires more holistic thinking and collaborative approaches to meaningfully engage multi-stakeholders across sectors, including the co-creation of solutions with concerned citizens.  

Paola Scaparra

Professor & Head of Management Science, Kent University Business School

Professor Scaparra is the Head of the Management Science Group and a member of the Centre for Logistics and Heuristic Optimisation (CLHO). 

Paola is currently exploring how OR can contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and help solve intractable challenges in developing countries. Over the past year, she has been leading the GCRF project ‘Optimal investment strategies to minimise flood impact on road infrastructure systems in Vietnam’, funded by the British Academy’s Global Challenges Research Fund: Cities and Infrastructure programme.

Making an Impact Chair

John Medhurst, Larrainzar Consulting Solutions Ltd

Grand Challenges Organiser

Miles Weaver, Edinburgh Napier University Business School