Be Catalysts In Addressing Global Challenges, AfDB President Urges Oxford MBA Graduates

AfDB Oxford University
The president, African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina (right) addressing the graduands during their graduation ceremony at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, England.

President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has called on young people to be catalysts and collaborate with global leaders in tackling the multifaceted challenges confronting the world today.

Adesina, who delivered an inspiring commencement address to the 2023 graduating full-time MBA students at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, emphasised the pressing global challenges, particularly climate change and the imperative of eradicating hunger. He underscored the importance of limiting global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius and the need for innovative solutions to power the world with renewable energy.

Adesina stated, “We must do all to feed the world. It is not acceptable that over 2.3 billion people in the world go hungry every day. God did not create stomachs to go empty. He created them to be filled. There must be a hunger-free world”.

He commended the graduates as builders and shapers of hope, well-prepared to effect positive change in the world. Adesina emphasised that their world-class education had equipped them with the skills and knowledge needed to make a difference.

Encouraging innovative thinking and solutions, he pointed to various global challenges, such as the lack of access to electricity for 940 million people, three billion people without clean cooking energy, two billion without clean water, and 4.5 billion lacking sanitation. Adesina urged the graduates to learn from the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure global pandemic preparedness while ensuring equitable access to affordable healthcare.

He emphasised the importance of creating equal opportunities for all, regardless of economic, social, or racial background, to establish a level playing field. Adesina urged the graduates to become change-makers with a heart, encouraging them to live purposefully, inspire others, support their peers and contribute to unleashing the potential of those around them.

Adesina also drew attention to the 1.7 billion people lacking access to basic financial services, as well as the 244 million children who are out of school, including 129 million girls. He highlighted the dreams of these children to attain a world-class education like the graduates, emphasising that their aspirations could only be achieved through prioritizing financing for developing countries to accelerate development.

Addressing the new MBA graduates, Adesina called for selflessness, dedication to justice, equity and fairness, and the promotion of transparency, inclusion, honesty and integrity. He cautioned against the allure of corporate greed and urged them to remain ethical and principled in their business endeavours.

Furthermore, the president of the AfDB encouraged the graduates to foster alliances and collective partnerships rather than pursuing individual success. He invoked the image of the African baobab tree, emphasising that only by linking arms together could individuals encircle its enormous girth. He encouraged them to “adopt the Baobab approach and work collaboratively”, emphasising the effectiveness of collective success.

In conclusion, Adesina addressed the need for a reformed global financial architecture to address the world’s myriad challenges more effectively and accelerate the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. He called on the graduates to use their acquired skills and tools to redirect vast global resources toward the common good and make the world a better place for all.

Omowumi Semudara
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