CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development kicked off its tenth year in sustainability with its annual Sustainability Summit at the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi.
Prakash Javadekar, Minister of State, Environment, Forests and Climate Change, reflecting on the last one year said he is “convinced that protection of environment and development is possible simultaneously, they go hand-in-hand, they are not against each other and that is what sustainable development means.” According to the Minister, the key to sustainability is employment. Giving the example of wood, he said that what happens when we import it is that we export jobs. This is something that needs to change. He announced at the Summit that the government is initiating, “public-private partnership, where land will remain with the government, but the private industries who are importing wood can do commercial harvesting.” This according to him will not only create a new carbon sink but will also create competition for the Forest Department. Mr Javadekar appealed to the industry to not take shortcuts to growth, but find alternative routes even if it takes a little longer keeping in mind the life cycle costs.
Y C Deveshwar, Past President, CII, Chairman, CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development Advisory Council and Chairman, ITC Limited, opened the Summit by saying that a decade back sustainability was a diffused thought when CESD began operations but with every passing year now sustainability has become a priority. Sustainability, he said, has three dimensions, “the competitiveness dimension, the job creating and social asset forming dimension, and the environmental asset creating dimension.” He added that climate change is one of the biggest sustainability issues we face and that the work to reverse that should have begun yesterday. Given the growing challenges businesses are facing, Mr Deveshwar emphasized on the importance of business taking a unified approach to arrive at sustainability solutions. He commended CESD on preparing businesses to manage sustainability in a unified manner through its various services like capacity building, awareness creation, consulting, etc.
Setting macro-level context to the two-day discussions for the Sustainability Summit, Dr Subir Gokarn, Former Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India & Director-Research, Brookings India, highlighted the fact that trade-off between growth, development, and environmental protection is a false dilemma. This is not an either/or choice but both can be achieved together. “That requires behavioural changes, requires strategic changes, and organisational changes”, said he. The last one decade, he said, has concretised pillars of sustainability and the emergence of CESD reflects a process of making business sustainable. For the next decade Dr Gokarn sees the emergence of a variety of technologies, and products and services which are economically viable and sustainable. He believes there is enormous space for business to expand its commitment and make sustainability a business.
Seema Arora, Executive Director, CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development, concluded the inaugural session by bringing home the point that what we are “confronting is nothing less than an existential crisis.” What we need according to her is “to develop abilities to exist. This is called ExistAbility.” Her call for action to business and government both was that “keep talking but start acting, now. It’s not walk-the-talk; it’s gallop-the-talk.’
For further information on the Summit agenda and key speakers, please visit:
About CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development
A pioneering effort by CII, the Centre works to create and sustain an environment conducive to the growth of business, partnering business and government alike through training, advisory and consultative services. It is the fountainhead of transformative and inclusive solutions to promote sustainability, which nurtures clients to compete, expand opportunity and excel in today’s dynamic business environments. The Centre enables businesses to become sustainable, and channels the potential of Indian industry to power the country’s agenda for inclusive growth and sustainable development