Companies need to invest not only resources, but also create a culture of ESG within organisations
Given the fragile nature of the Himalayan range in Uttarakhand, the just concluded Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) conference in Dehradun imparted urgency and importance to the need to act now on these issues in the region.
The Conclave on ESG for Industry Transformation: Environmental – Social- Governance (ESG) for Aatmanirbhar Bharat was organised by the National Productivity Council (NPC) in partnership with Department of Industries, Uttarakhand. NPC is an autonomous entity under the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Minister of Commerce and Industry. Indian Potash was the industry partner.
Talking about the need of the hour for industry transformation in the backdrop of global landscape shaped by the issue of climate change, Sundeep Kumar Nayak, Director General of NPC, says that NPC is “ready to walk the extra mile” with industries to fast-track their ESG journey.
Dr. S. S. Sandhu, Chief Secretary, Government of Uttarakhand, says, “Overall, the level of ESG readiness of Indian PSUs and private sector firms is rapidly improving, but there is still significant room for growth and improvement. To become more ESG ready, both PSUs and private sector firms need to invest in and prioritise ESG considerations, embed them into their operations and regularly measure and report their ESG performance.”
He adds, “There are several ways for PSUs to adopt better ESG practices. PSUs should establish ESG metrics and targets and monitor their progress against these targets. This will help PSUs to measure their ESG performance and make improvements where necessary.”
Pankaj Kumar Pandey, Industry Secretary, Government of Uttarakhand, adds, “ESG preparedness will continue to be a significant driver of stakeholder satisfaction – whether it is investors, regulators, customers, or employees.”
Talking about the big picture, Parveen Garg, Senior Advisor, NPC, Delhi, says, “Many corporates are well prepared for ESG reporting, especially large corporate houses, which are also listed on stock exchanges and export houses who have do compliances of international standards. But other businesses have to do lot of catching up on ESG.” To become ESG ready, he points out, “The businesses, which are yet to follow ESG norms, have to invest not only resources but have to also create a culture of ESG within the organisation.”
Bringing in the academic perspective in the field, Dr. Kusum Arunachalam, Head of Department, Department of Environment, Doon University, says, “Comparison between PSUs and private firms in India is lop-sided. The latter are ahead in this aspect. However, the lack of a well-defined and globally ratified protocol for ESG favours all firms in India to be delivering on certain aspects of ESG.”
She adds, “In order to get any firm ready, there needs to be a coordinated discussion and effort towards defining the ESG agenda from India’s perspective. A coordinated discussion should be conducted to evaluate the current situation and commitments by the firms by organising teams cutting across PSUs and private sectors. This creates an opportunity to find gaps in ESG parameters that could be acted upon jointly by firms. Furthermore, it could potentially lead to a single, national plan towards implementation, reviewing and sustaining long-term efforts on the ESG front.”
Talking about challenges, Rudra Deo Mishra, President of Uttarakhand Productivity Council, says, “ESG in PSUs and MSME sector is at an embryonic stage and eventually progress will be made in phases.” He adds, “In fact, lack of resources is a great constraint for some industries with the result that even if they are aware of the benefits, they cannot implement.”
Speakers also focused on sensitisation on ESG, integration of ESG agenda into business strategy, reporting and compliance, good practices, challenges faced by industries and the way forward.
While other speakers included senior leaders from ONGC, UJVNL, SIDCUL, Hero Motocorp, Nestle, Bajaj Auto, ITC, Godrej & Boyce and Perfetti, attendees included officials from departments of environment and forests, industries, MSME, water resources, urban development, pollution control, irrigation and flood control, etc.
This was the last of ESG workshops in this series held by NPC. Similar workshops were earlier held in Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and Guwahati.