Sustainability is no longer optional; the rights of the vulnerable people have to be respected while allowing markets to function.
This is the voice of several Indian leaders, who are currently attending the 6th edition of Centre for Responsible Business (CRB) Annual Conference – ‘India and Sustainability Standards’, 2019 at New Delhi.
The theme of the conference is ‘Market Dynamics and Social Dilemmas of Promoting Sustainable Business’.
Inaugurating the 3-day-long conference, former Indian Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu underscored the importance of voluntary sustainability standards for ‘codification’ of sustainability.
Suresh Prabhu and Dr. Amit Mitra, Finance Minister of West Bengal stressed that markets cannot function on its own to achieve sustainability – the role of the Government in creating the right checks and balances is critical.
Dr. Amit Mitra emphasised that each stakeholder has an important role to play in driving sustainability. “While private sector and NGOs bring quality, Governments are crucial in bringing substantial volume and scale to sustainability initiatives, by illustrating a few examples from the Government of West Bengal’s efforts in facilitating sustainable enterprises and livelihoods,” he added.
The inaugural day featured many other eminent speakers including Ambassador of Holland H E Marten van den Berg; Reema Nanavaty, ED, SEWA; Paul Schuilwerve, Head of Rabobank India; Bishow Parajuli, India Head, UN World Food Programme; P.S. Narayan, Sustainability Head, WIPRO.
Dr. Bimal Arora, Chairperson, CRB highlighted the importance of the platform developed through this conference and related processes/activities to bring sustainability standard setters and professionals to better appreciate ground realities in India so that the standards become enabling and not disenabling as Suresh Prabhu had cautioned.
Second and third days of the conference will have various sessions covering many industries including textiles and apparels, and burning topics. Experts from many industries will be addressing these parallel sessions.
Experts insisted the need for partnerships with the private sector and to explore beyond the business-as-usual models, and stated that behaviour change is critical for sustainability.
They urged that misconceptions on sustainability costs must be addressed to ensure greater uptake by businesses.
The message was loud and clear that sustainability can no longer be ignored. The time to act is now. All stakeholders need to collaborate if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.