Home to one-sixth of the world’s population, India is transitioning fast. By 2030, the middle class is expected to grow to be the largest in the world representing an estimated USD$ 6 trillion growth opportunity for businesses. Additionally, India is rapidly urbanizing and the country is gearing to transform both its built environment and how waste is managed.

India’s size makes its sustainability challenges globally significant. While there have been marked improvements in various socio-economic indicators over the past 15 years, India faces major challenges such as being vulnerable to climate change, poor air quality, water scarcity, and socio-economic inequality across states. Along with the government, the private sector can provide the solutions to solve social and environmental challenges and drive inclusive growth. Additionally, companies can unlock enormous economic opportunities worth an estimated USD $1 trillion in India if they pursue sustainable growth models.
Businesses have a critical role and opportunity in shaping India’s growth trajectory in ways that build the country’s competitiveness and inclusivity, and to secure sustainable profits and growth.

WBCSD organized its India Day on 27 August 2019 to facilitate discussions with our member companies on these issues, to accelerate the move towards a more equitable, inclusive and sustainable India.

We discussed the launch of an India chapter of WBCSD’s Farm of the Future initiative with a workshop bringing together our members and stakeholders involved in India’s food and agriculture sector. Diane Holdorf, Managing Director, Food & Nature, WBCSD began the session with an introduction on WBCSD’s Climate Smart Agriculture project. This was followed by a brief introduction by Tony Siantonas, Director- Sustainable Landscapes and Climate Smart Agriculture on the Farm of the Future where he shared insights and observations from other geographies. Subsequently, the participants were divided into groups to discuss key issues in farming in India from climate resilience, market linkages and access to finance. 

The key concerns highlighted in the session were: water scarcity and the need to find solutions, the importance of taking a farmer-centric approach in our work in India and the importance of collaboration with government, technology start-ups and financial institutions. WBCSD will be forming the India Working Group for Farm of the Future over the next six months.

Parallel to this session, WBCSD’s REmobility team conducted a policy roundtable on “Accelerating business EV adoption”, bringing together India’s electric vehicle (EV) value chain to assess the current policy landscape and EV adoption through use cases of employee transport, ride-hailing and urban freight. The recommendations made by the participants at the workshop will be collated, along with similar workshops and webinars to be held throughout this year, for a policy paper to be launched in December 2019.

WBCSD launched a refresh of Vision 2050 and over the course of the next year, over 30 companies will work together to review and refresh the 2010 landmark publication, bringing it up to date for the decade to come. A key area of focus for this refresh, will be understanding how to unlock and accelerate transformation and what business’ role is in supporting the wide-reaching change that needs to be catalyzed. The Vision 2050 Refresh project team visited India this week, joining WBCSD’s India Day for discussions with our members and partners. The aim was to gather local insights about the challenges and opportunities that will influence India’s direction over the next 10 years, ensuring that India’s priorities are reflected in the refresh.
WBCSD presented Indian members and partners with an overview of the project and provided an update on work done so far to update Vision 2050’s original “Pathways” which we then discussed from an Indian perspective. Key themes emerged that dominated the discussion, including competitiveness, the role of the unorganized sector, waste, jobs and trust between government and business. We will be bringing the responses from the workshop into the first Vision 2050 Refresh member workshop taking place in Geneva on 11-12 September.

WBCSD India day will be held again in 2020.

CII Sustainability Summit 2019, 28-29 August

In its 14th year, the Confederation of Indian Industry’s flagship Sustainability Summit highlighted a science-based approach to policy making and sustainability issues. The event covered topics from urban space management, environment justice, data analytics in policy making and circular economy. Held over two days, over 250 executives and senior leaders interacted with stakeholders in the government and civil society on the above issues.

Diane Holdorf, who was a speaker on the session “Environment justice: a human rights-based approach” discussed WBCSD’s CEO Guide to Human Rights and the crucial concerns over access to food and water in India. Rodney Irwin, Managing Director, Redefining Value & Education, WBCSD was a panelist on the session “Maximizing social capital through CSR” and discussed how companies need to maximize their social capital by understanding and measuring their social and human capital impacts and dependencies across all stages of their business and adapt their business models accordingly.

The CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development is the Indian partner of WBCSD’s Global Network, an alliance of more than 60 CEO-led business organizations worldwide. The Network, encompassing some 5,000 companies, is united by a shared commitment to provide business leadership for sustainable development in their respective countries and regions.

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