Integrating Sustainability In Business Strategies

By Shaina Ganapathy November 11, 2023

COP 28: In alignment with other developing nations, India is advocating for a fresh global climate finance target

Integrating Sustainability In Business Strategies
As natural resources become increasingly depleted, we find ourselves at a critical juncture with a 2-degree rise in average temperature.

COP28, the 28th Conference of Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), will highlight participating countries' progress in meeting their voluntary emissions reduction pledges. The summit will also explore approaches to address any remaining disparities and provide a chance to concentrate on corporate environmental responsibility (CER). 

At COP28, in alignment with other developing nations, India is advocating for a fresh global climate finance target. The Indian government has also initiated various measures domestically to improve awareness and understanding of climate change. In November 2022, it submitted its long-term low-carbon development plan to the UNFCCC after an evaluation of the climate impact within India resulting from the worldwide temperature increase.

While these ambitious global and national-level targets are essential to enabling innovations and efforts towards achieving climate mitigation goals, the private sector can play a significant role in realising progress on the ground. 

In recent years, sustainability has emerged as a prominent subject of conversation. Sustainability is not just about environmental preservation; it also involves establishing enduring value for a broad spectrum of stakeholders, encompassing customers, employees, supply-chain vendors, and the wider community. A sustainable business model takes into account the consequences of its activities on the environment, society, and the economy. It aims to mitigate adverse impacts while optimising beneficial outcomes to meet the needs of present and future target markets. 

Today’s smart businesses recognise that, beyond forward-thinking strategies, a vision centred on sustainability can profoundly impact the entire life cycle of their operations. The onset of the pandemic highlighted underlying social inequalities, prompting many organisations to go beyond traditional philanthropy. They aimed to not only increase their efforts but also enhance their commitment to issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), sustainability, and poverty alleviation.

However, a recent report by cKinetics reveals that only a small number of companies have fully aligned their climate commitments with the goals set by the Paris Agreement for 2030. 

The implementation of specific methodologies and strategies has the potential to catalyse significant developments, ushering in pivotal trends that promise to reshape the current landscape for a more promising future. These forward-looking approaches, when put into action, not only address current challenges but also lay the groundwork for a brighter and more prosperous tomorrow. Some of the key movements that can revolutionise the present for good are: 

A Collaborative Approach 

We are currently confronted with a magnitude of challenges that demand a united response from businesses, government entities, and the non-profit sector. Corporates need to recognise that sustainable success cannot be achieved in isolation. To optimise our limited resources, organisations with shared visions, objectives, and priorities should collaborate, aiming to create economic and social advantages while minimising our environmental footprint and progressing towards achieving net-zero goals.

Moreover, corporates are beginning to transform their approach to community engagement. Instead of imposing solutions based solely on their expertise, they are reaching out to local leaders and government bodies to effectively leverage their knowledge. 

The government, in turn, can play a crucial role in fostering a corporate network aligned with a common purpose that embraces the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Offering support in aligning organisational objectives and providing an ethical framework can encourage increased cooperation and more considerate philanthropic efforts. 

Green Technology 

As natural resources become increasingly depleted and we find ourselves at a critical juncture with a 2-degree rise in average temperature, businesses are actively reassessing how they can leverage their technological capabilities and resources to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change and reduce their dependence on non-renewable resources.

Technology is a pivotal tool in enabling companies to adopt a more comprehensive framework, one that includes thorough reporting on their supply chains, regional operations, and more. This, in turn, provides companies with a more holistic perspective of their sustainability commitments and where they currently stand. 

Furthermore, the realm of green technology extends to exploring fresh sources of renewable or clean energy, developing eco-friendly materials, and pioneering more efficient methods to tackle our growing waste crisis. This multifaceted approach not only bolsters businesses' environmental responsibility but also fosters innovation in areas critical to a more sustainable and eco-conscious future. 

Expertise and Innovation: Pioneering Sustainable Solutions 

Private sector enterprises frequently demonstrate exceptional prowess in innovation and creative problem-solving. When they join forces with governmental bodies, they can leverage their expertise to craft enduring solutions for critical social and environmental dilemmas. Take, for example, technology firms partnering with governments to enhance digital connectivity in marginalised areas, thus narrowing the digital divide and equipping individuals with vital competencies for the contemporary world.

This collaboration between innovation and governance nurtures an atmosphere where ingenuity is applied to tackle our current predicaments. Together, they can concoct pioneering remedies that not only ameliorate immediate challenges but also establish a sturdy groundwork for sustained sustainability. 

Regulatory Framework: Encouraging Responsible Practises

An effectively organised regulatory framework establishes transparent standards and directives for corporate social responsibility (CSR) endeavours. It motivates businesses to embed responsible practises into their fundamental operations, nurturing a sustainable ethos within the organisation. Making reporting and indicators mandatory, as well as setting aside a percentage of CSR funds towards CER, will ensure that we are better able to address existing gaps. 

To sum up,  by prioritising sustainability at the forefront of their operations, businesses can gain a competitive edge, draw in customers, adhere to governmental regulations, and simultaneously contribute to a more sustainable future for everyone.

Those businesses that make sustainability a top priority will not only be better prepared to confront the challenges of tomorrow but will also generate lasting value for all stakeholders. Above all, it will place India in a better position to address the alarming trajectory of climate change.

(Shaina Ganapathy is the Head of Community Outreach, Embassy Group.)