Published On: Wed, Feb 4th, 2015

Top corporate leaders chart roadmap for sustainable solutions

terisustainReport by Rashmi r Parida, New Delhi: More than 100 top business leaders today struck a common chord to solve some of the biggest problems of the century. At the High Level Corporate Dialogue (HLCD), held a day prior to the landmark 15th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2015 (DSDS), to be held in New Delhi from February 5 to 7, they provided significant contribution on the specific role of the business community towards tackling climate change. They brainstormed on ‘Delhi to Paris: Corporate Vision on Climate Change’, the theme this year. The HLCD was organized by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

Speaking on the occasion, Dr R K Pachauri, Director-General, TERI: “The corporate sector is the vanguard for change. If the corporate sector leads, then the government and civil society cannot be far behind. Energy economists need to focus on the issue of climate change. In the 5th Assessment report of the IPCC, we have said that if we do not take immediate measures, global temperate may increase by 4.80C. Climate change is not merely an issue of mounting economic costs, but loss of precious lives, loss of cultural heritage and the fear that people have to live under. If the world moves towards a low carbon economy, the corporate sector has a great deal of opportunity to gain.”

Said Mr Jayant Sinha, Hon’ble Minister of State for Finance, the Government of India: “If we want to put India on the growth path, we need to find employment for the millions. Innovation is the need of the hour. We need to build on our productivity, supply side management and sustainable growth. We must agree that the challenge of the environment is a significant challenge every country is facing. Technology and sustainable growth must go hand in hand. We need to work towards energy efficiency. The clock is ticking, we must act now. ”

Said Mr Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever PLC and Chairman, WBCSD: “The Indian perspective is refreshing, where sustainable development has been seen as an opportunity for investment. India is rising to meet the ambitious targets the world has set. Not just CEOs and companies, but financial institutions are also waking up to the challenge of climate change, which is stifling our growth. We need clear signals from the government to catalyze financing for business and move towards a low carbon economy. We need to take subsidies out of the fuel sector.”

Said Mr R Mukundan, Managing Director, Tata Chemicals & Chairman, Executive Council, TERI BCSD India: ““The economic prosperity of a country is intertwined with its natural resources and biodiversity, making it imperative to conserve our resources. With climate change reaching an alarming situation, it is critical that we take action and include it in our development planning. Over the last decade, a significant number of corporates have made strong commitments towards environmental protection and biodiversity conservation. This shift to the green highway continues to grow, and can be further reinforced if stakeholders and government bodies support and reward companies that operate in the spirit of sustainability.”

Said Dr Henrik O Madsen, Group President and CEO, DNV-GL: “We know the effects of climate change and we know the effects of loss of biodiversity, but need to understand the risks we will face in the future if we do not take immediate action to reduce greenhouse gases. Today, many companies are embracing the concept of sustainable development because sustainability has manifold benefits and integral to growth.”

Said Mr Rana Kapoor, Managing Director & CEO, YES Bank Ltd.: “The High Level Dialogue is a unique platform to bring forth critical issues. From a banking standpoint we need to recalibrate risk management to factor climate change. We also need to bring in more transparency in reporting.”

Dr Annapurna Vancheswaran, Director, Sustainable Development Outreach Division, TERI, said “The HLCD represents the fraternity of conscious corporate working together towards realizing the common goal of sustainable development. Business can no longer remain mute to the overwhelming impacts of climate change. It is great to see corporate willingness to alleviate the current situation.”

YES Bank-BCSD Knowledge Papers

Among the highlights at the Summit were the release of two knowledge papers – ‘Enabling Finance for Scaling up Energy Efficiency in MSMEs’ and ‘Ganga: An Inclusive Multi-Stakeholder Approach’ – by YES Bank and TERI BCSD. ‘Enabling Finance for Scaling up Energy Efficiency in MSMEs’ seeks to highlight the key challenges faced by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and provides possible financing solutions for them. The paper looks into the current technological ability of MSMEs and bottlenecks preventing them from gaining energy efficiency in operations. It also provides a critique on the uptake of various government schemes for financing energy efficiency.

‘Ganga: An Inclusive Multi-Stakeholder Approach’ provides insights pertaining to river basin management from the perspective of financial institutions. The first part of the paper prepares the ground by identifying the areas of improvement through a detailed analysis of the current situation in the Ganga basin. The second part of the paper comprises recommendations which address the identified need areas, both at the broad basin level and at a granular level, touching upon specific areas like agriculture, irrigation, river transport, tourism, industry and urban development among others.

Corporate Action on Climate Change

As nations unveil their own climate targets, India Inc is a step ahead to move towards a low carbon economy. At the High Level Corporate Dialogue (HLCD), over 100 leading business leaders brainstormed on ‘Delhi to Paris: Corporate Vision on Climate Change’, the theme this year. They began developing a Vision Document, which is by the corporate and for the corporate. The business leaders reinforced the fact that businesses can no longer remain mute to the overwhelming impacts of climate change. The document offers an overview of key issues, while outlininga roadmap to provide sustainable solutions on a range of critical issues that affect our global planet. TERI-Business Council for Sustainable Development (TERI-BCSD) and YES Bank have taken the lead in this exercise.

Between February and November 2015, 21 meetings and consultations will be held to further brainstorm and finalize the document. With an underlining message of ‘Talk to Action’, these theme-wise plans will be complied as a Comprehensive Corporate Action Plan towards Tackling Climate Change to promote favorable action on the part of the corporate community. This will be shared with the participants at the United Nations Conference of Parties (CoP-21) to be held in Nov-Dec, 2015, in Paris. The document will form the basis for evolving a roadmap, highlighting the distinct challenges and opportunities for each issue/sector, and to concretize a corporate plan for the post-2015 Development Agenda. This will serve as a guideline/pledge for corporates to design their businesses and CSR initiatives in a manner that contributes towards lowering our carbon footprint and tackling climate change. There would be short-term as well as long-term targets.

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