Thomas Dyllick — a pioneer of sustainability management In the laudatio to his longtime collegue, Rolf Wüstenhagen honors Thomas Dyllick's lifework and career at the University of St. Gallen. The year is 1992. Rio de Janeiro brings together 172 countries, many of which are represented by their Head of State or Government, who are gathered to agree on the principle of sustainable development — a development that meets the needs of the present generation without depriving future generations of fulfilling their needs. Amongst other things, the Rio Declaration marks the beginning of international climate policy and still is considered a milestone in the history of the United Nations. At that time, sustainable development was an unusual topic for most business universities. But in a small Gallic city in the east of Switzerland, a group of forward-thinking leaders, of which the then 38-year-old Thomas Dyllick was a part of, recognized the gravity of the topic before anyone else. Dyllick, a talented junior researcher, had completed his habilitation in environmental management at Harvard Business School and the University of St. Gallen five years earlier. In his field of analysis, he examined the close interrelation between companies and their natural and social environments. In 1990, he was awarded the prestigious Latsis Prize of the University of St. Gallen for his influential work. During the course of this study a close co-operation was forged with the newly formed student initiative and the foundation of the same name, oikos, in which several well-known Swiss companies had then committed themselves to sustainability. Realizing the momentum of the movement, Dyllick convinced the various university committees to establish the Institute for Economy and the Environment (IWÖ-HSG). In October 1992, he and his colleague, Hans-Christoph Binswanger, assumed the task of leading the Institute. Less than half a year after the crucial Earth Summit in Rio, the HSG had taken the lead in a scientific movement that wanted to explore the conditions for a successful implementation of the UN resolutions, and to prepare future decision-makers in business and society for this task. The external recognition of this pioneering work was swift: the freshly appointed professor successfully acquired a major research project within the framework of the newly created Priority Program Environment (SPPU) of the Swiss National Science Foundation — a forerunner of the later national research priorities. Under his leadership, a dynamic group of doctoral students examined how natural resources driven by social factors become a force for competitiveness in a variety of sectors. From the very beginning the junior researchers became successful groundbreakers, and are today among the pioneers of sustainability management within the German university community. Work continued in the second phase of the SPPU, with a new generation of PhD students set to work on the research of how organic products could be channelled successfully from niche to mass market. Another focus of research was on the newly emerging environmental management systems, which in turn should make a contribution in anchoring the topic of ecology in daily business life. In addition to research, Thomas Dyllick was concerned even back then with the concrete implementation of scientific findings — in the spirit of today's HSG mantra "From insight to impact". Amongst other things, he was involved in the design and implementation of ISO 14001 and was co-founder of the Swiss Association for Ecologically Conscious Corporate Management (öbu). His involvement with the HSG was not limited to the Institute — from 2001 to 2003 he was Dean of the Business Department (now School of Management), and from 2003 to 2011 he served as Vice Rector for Teaching and Quality Development at the University level. Since 2011, he has also been the Delegate of the Rectorate for Responsibility and Sustainability, thus providing an interface to international bodies such as the United Nations Global Compact and the UN Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME). In teaching, he has been breaking new ground for several years with interactive collaboratories, in which students together with practitioners tackle concrete sustainability challenges in the region. This type of initiative leads to comprehensive learning experiences because it allows students to work with their heads, hearts and hands identifying solutions relating to societal problems. In 2007, Thomas Dyllick was awarded the mentorship prize of the HSG student body. Sitting on the advisory board to oikos, the student initiative for sustainability at the HSG, as well as in the company of his scientific protégés, he has made a name for himself as a promoter of the next generation. His understanding of sustainable development takes a holistic approach as well. For him, respect for the basics of economics has always been intertwined with a careful use of social resources and ethical integrity. Twenty-six years after Rio, an era ends in the small Gallic city, with Thomas Dyllick leaving, after one of the hottest summers of the last 150 years. This reminds us that the task that Thomas Dyllick took on at the HSG in 1992 has become more relevent than ever, despite his extraordinary commitment. He leaves his successor an inspirational think tank that is well connected in the scientific community as well as in business and society. With the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have meanwhile been adopted by many companies, sustainability management has gained new momentum. This marks a good time to usher in another quarter century of sustainable development at the University of St. Gallen. - written by Rolf Wüstenhagen - The public farewell lecture will take place on 13.11.2018, 18 - 20 hrs, in the Auditorium Maximum of the HSG (09-010) (followed by an aperitif). Please register with Vreny Knöpfler-Mousa (email@example.com; +41 71 224 2584). Parking spots at the university are limited. Therefore, we recommend using public transportation.