Revamped National Voluntary Guidelines for corporate sustainability in public domain soon: Dr. Bhaskar Chatterjee

India CSR News Network

NEW DELHI: Dr. Bhaskar Chatterjee, Director General & CEO, Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, said here on Thursday that the National Voluntary Guidelines (NVGs) for India Inc., which constitute the standard benchmark for corporate sustainability, are in the process of being revamped in light of India’s growth and environment imperatives. The revised guidelines will be in the public domain in about 45 days.

Addressing the fourth edition of FICCI’s ‘India Sustainability Conclave’ on the theme ‘Balancing business goals in a sustainability paradigm’, Dr. Chatterjee underlined the need for developing Indian standards on sustainability and stated that the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has set up a Committee to look into this aspect. On the issue of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Dr Chatterjee said the 17 SDGs need to be prioritized and action plans need to be developed.

Dr Bhaskar ChatterjeeDr. Prodipto Ghosh, Chairman, FICCI Climate Change Task Force and Former Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Government of India, in his welcome address, recognized that this year’s India Sustainability Conclave has been organized at an opportune moment considering the rising momentum in terms of operationalizing India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), post 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris, and the SDGs adopted last year.

He said that India’s ambitious INDC target of reducing carbon emissions iDr Bhaskar Chatterjee at India Sustainibility Summitntensity relative to its GDP by 33-35% of GDP by 2030 from 2005 levels will be particularly daunting given the country’s mission of industrialization through the ‘Make in India’ program.

India has also pledged that 40% of its electricity needs would be met from non-fossil based fuels by 2030. Dr. Ghosh lauded national programmes such as the Swachha Bharat Abhiyan, Smart Cities as well as government’s initiative to look at a Draft National Forest Policy for channelizing private sector investment in enhancing country’s forest cover for CO2 sequestration.

India Sustainability ConferenceDr. Mukund Rajan, Chairman, FICCI Environment Committee and Brand Custodian and Member – Group Executive Council, Tata Sons, in his theme address, emphasized that a platform like India Sustainability Conclave is an excellent forum to drive collaboration within private sector and contribute towards multilevel learning process on sustainability issues. He listed out four key areas of private sector collaboration to sustainability.

First, pooling of CSR funds to achieve significant scale up in sustainability initiatives; second, in the area of skill development wherein he highlighted Tata Group’s Skill development initiative which brings together Tata companies, not-for-profit organizations and industrial training institutes (ITIs) on a single platform to train youth; third, innovation and technology, where he alluded to the example of India’s auto manufacturers coming together to develop components to ensure quality and drive down costs; and fourth, advocacy, where corporates could converge to build awareness and consumer education.

Dr. Rajan emphasized that the India Sustainability Conclave 2016 has also introduced the concept of “sustainable investment” for the first time as investors have started looking at environmental, social and governance factors to make their investment decisions.

In her vote of thanks, Rita Roy Choudhury, Senior Director & Head, Environment, Climate Change, Renewable Energy & Water, FICCI, said that sustainability is becoming an issue of business conscience, and therefore, of business strategy. It is becoming a momentum for deliberation and strategic direction among different players in the economy, be it industry, investors, policymakers and regulators and stock exchanges.

Choudhury said that sustainability is becoming synonyms with ‘responsibility’, responsibility towards environment and society.

With the Sustainable Development Goals, the role of business is expected to be transformative not just for its own competitiveness, but for the country’s development priorities as well. She added that there are trailblazers and trendsetters in the corporate world who have taken the lead in embracing sustainability.

The real momentum will be felt only of these are replicate widely through learning and innovation across sectors. She said that this edition of India Sustainability Conclave aims at discovering the momentum that sustainability related initiatives have gained in the corporate sector, in light of the magnitude of financial, corporate and environmental regulations focused on sustainability, and responsibility disclosures that have been mandated by the Indian Government in recent times.

The first session on Corporate Sustainability: Growing Imperatives for India, focussed on the growing imperatives for corporate sustainability in India and the factors that are driving corporates towards integrating sustainability within their operations.

The session was chaired by Dr. Mukund Rajan who re-emphasized the need for corporate collaboration to address sustainability issues.

Speaking on the panel Tony Henshaw, Chief Sustainability Officer, Aditya Birla Group, highlighted that businesses that are unable to transform themselves according to the sustainability paradigm would not be viable in the long run. He mentioned that businesses create externalities which may not directly impact them. However in the long term this could certainly make businesses unprofitable in a scenario devoid of sustainability.

Joe Phelan, Director, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), India remarked that climate change is one of the biggest challenges for Indian sustainability and it becomes important to see how national priorities can translate into good business cases.

Emphasizing the importance of standards he remarked that Indian businesses should align to the global standards and not be restricted to local standards. Highlighting the experience of his company, P S Malik, Head – Corporate Sustainability, Larsen & Toubro Ltd. stressed on the need for sensitization and awareness towards sustainability imperative at a micro level.

Varghese Bose, Head-Green Initiatives, Infosys Ltd. listed the imperatives for sustainable development like environmental issues, social imperatives, poverty, clean energy, etc. and mentioned that corporate sustainability is a reflection of these realities. Elucidating the genesis of sustainability indices, Mr Utkarsh Agrawal, Associate Director, Research and Design, S&P Dow Jones Indices said that these indices are critical to incorporate sustainability in investor decisions.