Senior representatives from across the industry, government, civil society and academia from NER states come together to share experiences and learnings
Given that creating awareness on leveraging Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) advantages for industry transformation in NER states was its important objective, the just concluded conclave in Guwahati organised by the National Productivity Council (NPC) was a success.
Talking about NPC’s work in the realm of environment, energy, water conservation, Sundeep Kumar Nayak, Director General, NPC, said, “ESG is not our destination, but a part of our commitment to mother earth.”
NPC is an autonomous entity under the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The ‘Conclave on ESG for Industry Transformation in NER States - Environmental Social Governance (ESG) for Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ was organised in partnership with the Government of Assam on January 30.
In the inaugural session, Syedain Abbasi, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Assam, said that the ESG initiative would encourage organisations across the country in general and from NER states in particular to be responsible in doing business in a sustainable manner. He also highlighted the commitment of the Government of Assam in taking up various initiatives on sustainability. Earlier, Sanjay Pratap Singh, Vice- Chancellor, Assam Royal Global University drew attention on how sustainability as a business strategy can be a magnet for garnering profits.
Giving the industry perspective, Dr. Ranjit Rath, Chairman and Managing Director, Oil India Limited (OIL), said that ESG has an important role in this era particularly for businesses focusing on net zero commitments. He discussed the steps undertaken by OIL and Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) in the realm of environmental sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and governance.
Rath also referred to what Bhaskar Jyoti Phukan, Managing Director, NRL, said before him. Phukan said embracing renewable energy and transfer of technology are the ways for achieving net zero and sustainability objectives. Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (BRSR) guidelines also hold importance as well.
Giving the Assam state perspective, M. P. Singh, Managing Director, Assam Industrial Development Corporation Limited, said that the government of Assam is serious in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in accordance with the Assam 2030 Initiative. The SDGs are embedded in the policies right from the formulation stage. He also drew attention towards to the fact that benefits of the implementation of BRSR are not limited to corporates only, but also extend to MSMEs.
B.P. Bakshi, Chairman, Assam Productivity Council, added, “Senior management of PSU and private sectors may be aware of ESG, but it has to percolate below to make it a way of life. Such conclaves will definitely promote ESG awareness.”
The following two technical sessions were interesting as speakers shared their experiences. The focus of the first session was on how companies can achieve competitive advantage through guided sustainability initiatives. NPC offered to be a partner of choice in navigating the world of ESG frameworks and standards that have resulted in numerous metrics in the ecosystem, including those of Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).
Dr. Rajeev Ranjan, Director, ICRO, NPC, Delhi said, “As the regulatory requirements under ESG in the more evolved form of CSR are taking root, the companies need to integrate the ESG framework in their decision-making process so as to contribute better to triple bottomline – people, profits as well as the planet.’ He added, “This requires understanding the importance of sustainability and transparency as being central to their core beliefs and long-term growth of the company and proper alignment with the larger ecosystems of stakeholders. In this context, more awareness and application of the ESG framework should form integral part of the growth plans of the company.”
The second technical session focused on how industries can reframe their ESG initiatives as a competitive advantage to deliver value and draws investment. With ESG considerations also becoming the threshold for investing, companies are needed to dedicate more time scrutinizing and strengthening ESG metrics and reporting them appropriately to sustain relevance with institutional investors, asset managers and other investors
While talking in the closing session on Integrating ESG into Business, Sonali Ghosh, Chief Conservator of Forests, Research and Working Plan, Assam, said, “ESG has become even more relevant post India's reiteration on Mission LiFE and the target of net zero emissions by 2070.” Going further and referring to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, she added, “Similarly, the CBD goal to achieve 30x 30 target also needs integration of ESG norms in all walks of life.”
More than 100 senior professionals from across the industry, government, civil society and academia from NER states took part in the day-long conclave. These included officials from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, SEBI, Assam Pollution Control Board, Assam Power Distribution Corporation, Andrew Yule Group, Brahmaputra Valley Fertiliser Corporation, Emami and Rashtriya Mantri Sahakar Bharti.