Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Corporates join for Sustainable Development

The Minister of State, Ministry of Environment and Forests Government of India, Jayanthi Natarajan  inaugurated on 21 March, the Global Compact Network National Convention in New Delhi.

Inaugurating the event, the Minister said “Economic growth, social development and environment protection are the three pillars of Sustainable development. Sustainability has different meanings in different contexts. For example, while developed countries are grappling with lifestyle sustainability, the developing countries are tackling issues of livelihood sustainability. For example, one cannot lecture a starved man on the virtues of Aitkens diet, or a villager with no electricity on wood conservation.”

The minister complimented the leading PSUs like SAIL and ONGC, which have come together to further the cause of sustainable development. Global efforts for sustainable development need to be fast-tracked and India has to contribute as a responsible member of world community, she added. Natarajan launched the GCNI website and released a policy paper by GCNI.

The welcome address and introduction of the theme was given by Mr. C S Verma, Chairman, SAIL & Chairman, Convention Committee, GCNI. He said “The convention will facilitate deliberations on the roadmap, targets, timelines and role of participating institutions. For manufacturing companies in India, reduction in green house gas emissions is the primary focus area.” He shared with the audience that the Department of Public Enterprises has released guidelines for sustainable development, which make it a part of the MOUs that the PSUs sign with the government.

Mr. Verma said that SAIL is taking the lead in minimizing its foot-print on environment. Significant investments on technology and processes are being made to bring down energy consumption, emissions load, effluent discharge, water and raw material usage. SAIL has also adopted a long term strategy to invest into renewable energy technologies in steel-making processes.
Mr. S Vasudeva, Chairman and Managing Director, ONGC and President, GCNI highlighted that “There are two thrust areas that need more focused approach for sustainable development to happen fast. One is creating an equitable and enabling framework and its diligent implementation. The second is to also act fast on not only push factors but also pull factors, that incentivize volunteerism.”
Mr Patrice Coeur- Bizot, Resident Coordinator, UNDP India expressed happiness over the enthusiastic participation in the convention which brings together United nation bodies, business community and the government. Due emphasis on sustainable development in India’s 12th five-year plan signifies the importance being given by India to the cause. The Rio +20 and beyond will go a long way in balancing and resetting of the global development agenda, he added.
The theme for this year’s convention was ‘Corporate Perspective on Sustainable Development: Rio+20 and Beyond’. This Convention strived to deliberate on 3 issues which are:
  • Green economy in context of sustainable development,

  • Equity and human wellbeing

  • Enabling framework for action through innovation, partnerships and best practices.

The findings of this convention shall be discussed at Mumbai Sustainability Summit in April and also presented at the Rio +20 sustainability forum to be hosted by United Nations Global Compact prior to the Rio+20 or the ‘Earth Summit 2012’ in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012. Some key representatives from various sectors shared their opinion on corporate sustainability during this high profile convention.
The event assumes significance in view of the fact that the heads of governments will converge in Rio in June to discuss sustainability agenda and take subsequent actions to deepen their engagement with various stakeholders to take lead from the front to align their business leadership with sustainability.

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