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Sustainability needs to be part of companies` DNA: Experts

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - 21:22

Ashok Kumar and Isha Qureshi/OneWorld South Asia

New Delhi: Senior representatives of international organisations like the USAID, The World Bank and Brookings India said that businesses need to be given incentives to make them work towards sustainable development. Experts were of the view that businesses traditionally have not been designed to ‘change’ the world.

Brainstorming at the 14th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) in New Delhi on the theme ‘How can Businesses help attain energy, water and food security?’ experts from various organisations urged corporate entities to incorporate the idea of sustainability as an inseparable part of their business goals.

Exploring the increasing role of private sector in sustainable development, Assaad Razzouk, a Lebanese-British investor and clean energy entrepreneur, clarified that businesses were not designed to change the world. For the sake of future generations, Razzouk urged the corporate world to incorporate sustainability in its DNA.

Assad lamented that the topdown policies had failed to work for sustainability. Criticizing the government policies, Assaad said, “National policies fundamentally have got us nothing.” In next five years climate change would be a human right issue, he stated.
Vikram Singh Mehta, Chairman, Brookings India, called on businesses houses to do some introspection regarding their duties towards a sustainable world. “Businesses have a lot of questions to ask themselves,” he said. Mehta went a step ahead by categorically saying, “Businesses do not deserve profits if they do not contribute to sustainability.”

John A Beed, Mission Director, USAID-India, and others spoke in favour of pursuing a public private partnership (PPP) model to work towards sustainability. Beed also mentioned positive examples of successful PPPs including those in the field of polio eradication, green revolution and AIDS in India. He also highlighted the need for more of such projects.

Assaad, too, emphasised on PPP models added that private players could be drivers for sustainable development. “Public sectors can enable but cannot finish the job. Hence, the need for private help is necessary,” he said.

On the contrary, Tomoya Nonako, Chairperson, NPO, Gaia Initiative, won an applause for shifting the discussion from ‘How can businesses help attain energy, water and food security?’ to ‘How energy, water and food security help attain businesses?’ Nonaka also played down the role of CSR calling it a ‘twentieth century’ model. “We cannot waste time on CSR’s waiting to make profits,” she elaborated.
Another crucial suggestion was made by Onno Ruhl, Country Director, India, The World Bank, on how the consumers should pressurize the companies to make them contribute more in realising the goal of sustainable development. Emphasising on media’s role in creating general awareness on several social issues, Ruhl said, “Consumers should put positive pressures on companies.”

Ruhl also highlighted the significance of influencing businesses for getting the right kind of technology which could further the efforts towards sustainable development.

Zubin Varghese, Senior Director, Innovation and CoE, Ingersoll Rand, presented some shocking facts saying that 40% of the fruits and vegetable produce go waste. He also emphasised on the need of inclusive measures by both public and private sector to produce desirable results in the development sector.

First Published: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - 21:20

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