New Delhi, December 16, 2014: Centre for Responsible Business (CRB), has partnered with ISEAL Alliance, UK to organize a day-long seminar on the topic ‘CSR Mandate & Voluntary Sustainability Standards: Contribution to Business, Economy, Society and Environment in India’. The event was organized in Leela Ambience, Gurgaon and included speakers from the Government of India, United Nations, World Wildlife Fund, International Labor Organization and Quality Council of India. The entire day was dedicated to discussing various aspects of engaging with CSR and sustainability through voluntary standards, in both the public and private sector businesses and was attended by over 120 representatives from government, businesses and civil society organizations.
India is currently ranked 142nd in World Bank’s ‘ease of doing business’ index, and the Government of India, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is committed to reversing this situation through the ‘Make in India’ initiative. An important step being taken by the Government in this direction is the effort to ease the regulatory landscape by reducing government interference and promoting self-regulation. Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) can play an extremely important role in providing businesses with frameworks for self-regulation, and making them more competitive in the sustainability conscious global markets.
Mr. Ashok Kumar Pavadia, Joint Secretary, Department of Public Enterprises, Government of India, mentioned in his keynote speech how CSR in India has evolved over a period of 6 years. He said, “India is a happening place as far as CSR is concerned because of the number of changes going on here. We have formulated our own perspective since different stakeholders in different countries have different perspectives on CSR and sustainability.”
Ms. Karin Kreider, Executive Director, Iseal Alliance, said, ”In the coming years, India will face tremendous challenges in terms of sustainability issues like population growth, climate change, water pressures and sustainability standards offer a roadmap for both sustainable production and consumption to help producers to improve their sustainability impact.”
While roll out and implementation of CSR Mandate, enabled through the Companies Act, is gradually shaping up in India, Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) as a framework and tools for businesses/industry self-regulation, are increasing in use and scope, and standard setting, as a trend, is gaining momentum in India. While use of VSS in the domain of sustainable development is much higher in the developed economies, awareness and understanding of impacts of VSS in India is relatively low.
Dr. Bimal Arora, CEO for CRB, said “We try to achieve 8 percent growth target with balanced growth in all sectors. While this is commendable, it also has negative impacts on environment and biodiversity. Correspondingly, there has been increase in number of institutions working on CSR, and CRB is one such institution working towards sustainability in a trading context”.
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