2012 Bonn International Summer School on Responsible Business

Having attended the Bonn Summer Program in 2011 & 2012, I was surprised to see the domain was no longer live. This is an excellent organization that helped me understand much of how important the focus on sustainability is to all businesses. I convinced the Archive Group to recreate the original website and preserve the content so that I could use it in my course on international trade. Recognizing the importance of integrating technology into our curriculum, we introduced a FoxPro replacement, as FoxPro is software that is no longer supported and a modern alternative was essential for business management modules. The Bonn Program welcomed us and created a special year-long curriculum tailored to our needs. This level of dedication from the program required significant organization on our part. It was well worth the effort, and we hope to continue to teach what we learned to businesses worldwide. The philosophy and dedication of the original program are inspirational, and we are proud to have committed resources to this effort.

The Bonn International Summer School on Responsible Business is an outstanding high-level forum for decision makers from business whose aim it is to facilitate a practice-oriented and output-driven dialogue on ‘business and sustainability’. Our goal is to identify the strategies, practices and capabilities that are required for businesses to pursue the path of a sustainable form of global enterprise.

This was their website for the Bonn International Summer School 2012.
Content is from the site's 2012 archived pages.

About GIZ

Preparing the ground, fostering new talent

GIZ is a globally aligned, networked enterprise working in the field of international cooperation. Following in the footsteps of its predecessor organisations, it is profoundly committed to implementing sustainability. When GIZ was founded, international cooperation for sustainable development was explicitly placed at the heart of its corporate purpose. In line with its corporate principles, GIZ carries out programmes all over the world that aim to be socially equitable, environmentally sound and climate friendly. Resources are used in such a way that future generations can also benefit from them, and business activities within these programmes are conducted in a manner that combines sustainability and corporate responsibility. The principles of responsible business are at the heart of GIZ’s advisory approach. In the 130 countries in which GIZ is active, an intensive dialogue is taking place with private-sector businesses. GIZ is frequently asked to draw on its many years of experience, its expertise in capacity development and its global networks to develop platforms which qualified young international managers and professionals can use to exchange their views and experiences. These platforms provide users with the opportunity to draw up interactive and inter-disciplinary strategies and solutions in relation to business development case studies. In this work, sustainability forms an integral part of business strategy and is seen as crucial to business success.




The program of the summer school is designed to consist of two segments: one part for young executives who participate in the full week-long program and one part for CEOs who join the group for one day to discuss the business solutions designed by the young executives. In order to allow for “thinking outside of the box”, experts from politics, academia and civil society will be among the participants, as well. After a daily key-note by a high level speaker, the participants are going to work on six key challenges that business leaders face today. Applying innovative study and discussion methods such as scenario techniques, it is intended to instigate a new form of dialogue between business leaders on the one hand and other societal actors on the other. Outcome-orientation and the providence of solutions (in vitro as well as in vivo) is an important aim of the Bonn International Summer School on Responsible Business. At the end of the week, the responsible business solutions designed by the young executives will be presented to and discussed with CEOs and experts from all business sectors.


Target groups

You should consider participating in the Bonn International Summer School on responsible Business if you want to share your experiences and design responsible business solutions together with a group consisting of:

* 60 Young executives from all business sectors and from other societal sectors (politics, international organizations, academia, civil society)

* 20 CEOs from internationally acting large and medium corporations

The key challenges to be discussed in 2012 are:


Sustainability into the core business? From greenwashing, reputational risk management, and CSR to responsible business behavior


Challenges for business reporting and balance sheets: Accounting and pricing of social and environmental costs of firms, factories and products


Responsible global procurement: The strategic advantages of sustainable supply chain design


Leadership behavior, entrepreneurship and talent management: Critical success factors for responsible business worldwide


Responsible product innovation: From sustainable products to a sustainable lifestyle - Changing consumer behavior and creating markets for sustainable products


Inclusive business: Creating capacities for new business models and development opportunities


The summer school does not intend to deal with the ´low hanging fruits´ of the sustainability debate; its aspiration is rather to become an annual meeting for ´front runners´ in the field of responsible business and to present state of the art approaches on how to integrate sustainability and business. The program is embedded in a set of evening activities that give participants enough room to network with each other and with external experts as well as to get to know Bonn and the beautiful Rhine region.



All over the world, companies are increasingly measuring their business success not only in terms of growth figures but also based on whether this success is underpinned by the principles of sustainability. Many businesses have realised that economic success and environmental and social principles are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and that in many cases they can gain a competitive advantage by taking a more responsible approach. Sustainability is now anchored in corporate guidelines and in vision and mission statements, but its importance is also reflected in ‘hard’ facts and figures such as key performance indicators relating to market share and growth rates. A sustainable approach can also be a significant criterion for opening up new markets. Companies, be they small, medium-sized or international enterprises, are increasingly adopting sustainability as a guiding principle and recognising it as an attribute of responsible corporate management.

Despite this, linking business success with long-term sustainable environmental and social standards can still represent a considerable challenge.


In 2012, GIZ held the first Bonn International Summer School on Responsible Business in conjunction with its cooperation partner Ernst & Young, which was very well received by participants. The summer school’s working groups were made up of qualified participants with basic management experience from German and international private-sector companies. This enabled the active promotion of mutual learning; one of the school’s main strengths.

A methodical approach to problem solving
“Design Thinking” offers:

  • The school follows the ‘design thinking’ approach, which is user-focused, allows for multi-disciplinary teams and fosters a unique working culture and an iterative learning process.
  • It also ensures small groups and intensive support by highly trained team coaches.

Participants are supported in their work by experienced coaches from the prestigious Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) in Potsdam. All coaches are experienced in the successful implementation of innovative projects, having worked for industrial partners such as SAP, Mars, Postbank and Siemens.


Currently, Bonn International Summer School on Responsible Business plans to have the following speakers between the workshops:

  • John G. Ruggie, Berthold Beitz Professor, Harvard Kennedy School (Cambridge, USA)
  • Phil Clothier CEO, Barrett Values Centre (Ashville, USA)
  • John Elkington, Founding Partner & Executive Chairman, Volans (London, UK)


Participant Contribution: EUR 3,000 per participant
Applications should be made using the attached application form.




  • work in the private sector
  • are between 25 and 35 years old
  • have basic management experience
  • are fluent in English
  • are deeply interested in reconciling sustainability with business success
  • Female participants are particularly welcome


Tuesday, August 20

18:00 - 18:30 Welcome: Introduction to Bonn International Summer School on Responsible Business
18:30 - 20:00 Keynote Speech: Phil Clothier, CEO, Barrett Values Centre (Ashville, USA), on “The Power of Values Based Leadership”
20:00 Get together


Wednesday, August 21

09:00 - 11:00 Keynote Speech: John Ruggie, Berthold Beitz Professor, Harvard Kennedy School (Cambridge, USA), on “Just Business: The Making of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights”
11:20 - 13:20 Interactive Session: Phil Clothier, CEO, Barrett Values Centre (Ashville, USA), on “The Values-Driven Organization - Unleashing human potential for performance, profit and sustainability”
13:20 - 14:20 Lunch Break
14:20 - 15:00 Introduction to “Design Thinking” and Industry workshops
15:00 - 17:30 Industry workshops Session I
18:00 Walk to the Old Town Hall, Meeting Point: Foyer, Hilton Hotel
18:30 Keynote Speech: John Elkington, Founding Partner & Executive Chairman, Volans (London, UK), on “Breakthrough, Business Leaders, Market Revolutions”
  Panel Discussion:
  • Tanja Gönner, Chair of the Management Board, GIZ
  • John Elkington, Founding Partner & Executive Chairman, Volans (London, UK)
  • Johannes Baratta, CEO, Credit Suisse Deutschland
  • Marga Edens, Corporate Responsibility Director, RWE AG, Germany
20:15 Get together


Thursday, August 22

09:00 - 13:00 Industry workshops Session II
13:00 - 14:00 Lunch Break
14:00 - 17:30 Industry workshops Session III
17:30 - 18:00 Reflection on workshops
19:00 Get together


Friday, August 23

CEO perspectives – Cross-industrial and Cross-cultural Learnings

9:00 Group Photo, Meeting Point: Foyer, Hilton Hotel
09:30 - 10:00 Opening:
  • Dr. Christoph Beier, Vice-Chair of the Management Board, GIZ
  • Roger Amhof, Senior Partner, EY
10:00 - 12:30 Industry workshop presentation and discussion
12:30 - 13:30 Lunch Snack
13:30 - 14:30 Wrap-Up: Cross-industrial and Cross-cultural Learnings
15:00 Event Closing with BBQ




John G. Ruggie

John G. Ruggie is the Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government and Affiliated Professor in International Legal Studies at Harvard Law School.

Surveys in Foreign Policy magazine have identified him as one of the 25 most influential international relations scholars in North America.
From 1997-2001, he was UN Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Planning. His responsibilities included establishing the UN Global Compact and the Millennium Development Goals.

In 2005, Ruggie was appointed UN Special Representative for Business and Human Rights. Six years later, the UN Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” Ruggie developed. Core elements have been adopted by numerous other national and international standard setting bodies and by business enterprises, making them the most authoritative global standard.