India CSR launches the inaugural ‘ESG for All: Sustainability First’ Summit

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MUMBAI: India CSR – a leading organisation on sustainable development and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) on May 31 organised its maiden India ESG Summit 2022 ‘ESG for All: Sustainability First’ in Mumbai.

The Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) integration landscape is evolving more quickly than ever. The Summit provided the platform for bringing together industry stalwarts to discuss critical aspects concerning ESG. Essar supported the event as its principal sponsor. ESG considerations are now being adopted in decision making processes to mitigate risk and identify opportunities. India ESG Summit 2022 had been envisioned to focus on ESG issues and to discover new avenues and ideas in the sustainability space.

The global forum was inaugurated by lighting the lamp by Chief Guest Hon’ble Narhari Zirwal Deputy Speaker, Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, Special Guest Dr. Rajiv Sharma, IAS (Retd.), Chief Advisor to Government of Telangana and Sunil Jain, Operating Partner – Energy Transition, Essar Capital and Rusen Kumar, Founder, India CSR Network. 

Rusen Kumar, during his opening remarks, highlighted the need of an ESG platform to bring together all stakeholders across industries and future business leaders to explore, learn and engage in constructive dialogue on creating more awareness about ESG.

Delivering the keynote address Sunil Jain, Operating Partner – Energy Transition, Essar Capital enlightened the audience on ESG and its importance at an individual and corporate level. He emphasised on the importance of the concept of ESG i.e., Environment, Social and Governance and the need for it to be integrated and inter-related. Jain, with his views and recommendations, urged the government to emphasise on ESG being a part of the balance sheet of companies, social metrics being linked to the balance sheet, and separation of ownership and management to improve governance.

Also Read: Sunil Jain from Essar Capital sets context at the India ESG Summit 2022 – India CSR Network

He also said that even though it is ESG, the more important factor is ‘G’ and it ranks first and all starts with Governance. Talking about transformation, he touched upon how Essar is transforming all its carbon intensive businesses through three investment themes – Decarbonisation, Decentralisation and Digitisation. He also highlighted the diligent work done by Essar in uplifting the social fabric in the areas of its business operations.

This was followed by a thought-provoking speech by Chief Guest Hon’ble Narhari Zirwal, Deputy Speaker, Maharashtra Legislative Assembly who appreciated the efforts of India CSR for organising the event to address the issues of ESG. He remarked that the government is taking efforts in making policies towards ESG, but policies will be successful only when passionate people take the onus for better implementation. Zirwal emphasised that it is already late to curtail environmental damage, but asserted that “Better late than never”, and further added that the ecological imbalance done over past 40 years cannot be undone in just five-six years. It will take sustained efforts to mitigate the perils of climate change.

The inaugural session was followed by a leadership talk session on the ESG Vision for India where leaders initiated thought-provoking discussions on the ESG mission, vision, roadmap, strategy, policy evolution, challenges and limitations, evolving business models, solutions and much more.

The panel included Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas, Academic, Author, Campaigner, Conference Speaker, Corporate Adviser & Chairman, UK; Ashish Agarwal, Managing Director & CEO, Seros Logistics Group; Rajesh Dahiya, Founder & CEO, Good Govern; and Chirag Balyan, Head, Centre for Arbitration and Research Editor-in-Chief, Indian Review of International Arbitration Maharashtra National Law University Mumbai. The session was moderated by Dr. Rana Singh, Director, Chandragupt Institute of Management Patna (CIMP).

This was then followed by an interesting panel discussion on “ESG in Action” with dialog on defining Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in the India market; What global sustainability disclosure standards mean in the India market. The panel deliberated upon identifying challenges and opportunities and adding value through ESG and DEI. The key speakers in the panel included Parul Soni, Founder and Global Managing Partner, Think Through Consulting; Deepika Mogilishetty, Chief, Policy and Partnerships at Ekstep Foundation & Others; Rohit Arora, Founder & CEO, Biz2Credit; Ms Gayatri Divecha, Head – CSR and Sustainability, Godrej Industries Limited, and the session was moderated by Angela Chitkara, Founder & CEO, US-India Corridor.

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The panel discussion next in line shed light on enabling ESG at grassroots to fight against climate change and secure Net Zero by 2070. Here the panellist shared their plans, experiences, case studies and key learnings on how to meet India’s COP26 goals. The panel included Mukundan Iyer, CEO, Ultra Gas & Energy Limited; Kiran Sarkar – Head Sustainability, Mahindra & Mahindra (Automotive & Farm Business); Rishi Pathania, Corporate Head CSR, UPL Limited and Naved Ahmad, Co-Founder, Carbon Negative Company. The session was moderated by Arun Arora, Director, Chetak Foundation.

Another intriguing panel discussion moderated by Abhishek Ranjan, Director & Global Head – Sustainability, Brillio, sparked conversations on the integration of CSR, Sustainability and ESG, explaining the difference between the overlapping concepts of CSR and ESG and Sustainability, and how each can be incorporated, measured, and refined. The panellist included Mitesh Pandya, Chief Sustainability Officer, Vedanta Ltd.- Aluminium Business and Vivek Prakash, VP & Head, CSR, Jubilant Ingrevia Limited, Jubilant Bhartia Group.

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The last panel discussion gathered valuable inputs and suggestions by experts including Satish Ramchandani, Co-Founder & Chief Business Officer Updapt and Abhirup Das, COO & Co-founder, Oren, on deploying ESG digital and technology solutions to comply with regulations. The panel touched upon how using innovative thinking, tech-enabled ESG recordkeeping and data analysis can provide transparency, build trust, and help go deeper and act faster.

The sessions at the event helped recognise corporate sustainability best practices, and learn from change makers and champions in the field of ESG, sustainability and CSR. India ESG Summit triggered a key global concern for governments, corporates and individuals, and has initiated a dialogue that must continue between leaders and policymakers to build a sustainable future.

India Sustainability awards also given for the ESG and Sustainability good practices. India Sustainability Award jury was chaired by Brand and communication veteran Roma Balwani and Valerie Pinto – CEO, Weber Shandwick, India.