Environmental issues and business management based on European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) principles are key elements for the development of the Balearic Islands. Considering this, the UNESCO/Sa Nostra Chair in business and environmental management was created in November, the 24th 1998 under the collaboration agreement between the Universitat de les Illes Balears (UIB) and the Savings Bank "Sa Nostra", Caixa de Balears. The creation of this first UIB external Chair was considered a pioneer project by both institutions aimed at identifying the opportunities for social, economic and cultural development of the region. Three years later, the education and training activities undertaken by the Chair received recognition by the UNESCO, thus becoming the first and only UNESCO Chair at the UIB. This recognition also motivated research on the relationships between the economic and natural systems.
Since then, the UNESCO/Sa Nostra Chair has developed a wide range of training courses which have allowed more than 500 students to follow the ‘Master in Business Management: Quality and Environment’, the ‘Graduate Specialist Program in Business Management: Quality and Environment’, ‘Graduate Expert Program in Environment Protection’ and ‘Graduate Expert Program on Management Systems Certification’. Through this training, students have acquired knowledge and skills necessary, on one hand, to plan and put into practice the existing alternative economic tools dealing with environmental impacts and, on the other one, to implement the techniques developed under the EFQM. This strategy has pursued improving firms’ competitiveness through transferring knowledge related to the integration of both environmental management systems certified to ISO 14000 and quality management systems certified to ISO 9000.
The UNESCO Chair has also supported the Quality Award Official Postgraduate Studies in Tourism and Environmental Economics in an attempt to go into depth into tourism-environment coupling issues, with special emphasis on the existing relationships between both fields. The international character of these Postgraduate Studies is shown by a majority of students coming from European countries and, especially, from developing ones through ERASMUS MUNDUS exchange programs.
To the purpose of knowledge dissemination, the UNESCO Chair has organized diverse conferences. Among those outstanding is the organization of the III Conference of the Spanish-Portuguese Association of Natural Resources and Environmental Economics (AERNA), which brought together researchers working on environmental economics issues presenting research papers focusing on water, energy and natural resource management.