Indian Chamber of Commerce organises 17th Environment Partnership Summit

Kolkata, 12th January 2024: The Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) organised its 17th Environment Partnership Summit to discuss Driving Responsible Business with ESG at the core along with sessions on Building Meaningful ESG Strategies for a Sustainable Business and Environmental Dimensions of Sustainability. The session witnessed valuable insights from Md Ghulam Rabbani, Hon’ble Minister in Charge, Dept. of Environment, Government of West Bengal; Dr. Rajesh Kumar, IPS, Member Secretary, WBPCB; Dr. Krishna Nirmalya Sen, Chairman, ICC OHSE Committee & Head- EHS, L&T MMH; Mr. Aloke Mookherjea, Chairman Jury Board, ICC Environment Excellence Award; and Mr. Sudipta Mukherjee, ED (Generation), CESC Limited.

Md Ghulam Rabbani, Hon’ble Minister in Charge, Dept. of Environment, Government of West Bengal, emphasised the evolving possibilities in the current era, stating, “We are entering an era where carbon emissions pose a significant concern. In response, businesses are increasingly acknowledging the imperative of sustainability, encompassed under the umbrella term ESG. Under the leadership of our Chief Minister, Mamta Banerjee, the West Bengal government envisions an economy that not only thrives in profitability but also actively contributes to building a sustainable environment.” Highlighting West Bengal’s commitment to environmental sustainability, Rabbani noted, “West Bengal currently ranks 11th nationally in environmental sustainability. The global landscape of ESG is swiftly changing, presenting challenges that demand urgent attention. Worldwide, there is a universal demand for sustainability, and leadership bears the key responsibility in addressing this issue.” Referring to Kolkata as a business city, Rabbani pointed out, “West Bengal is home to numerous organisations dedicated to ESG goals. Leaders in the state are well-informed and actively implement strategies to effect positive change. Measures are being taken to reduce carbon footprints, with many colleges adopting solar panels. As global warming and climate change become increasingly pressing concerns, our Hon’ble Chief Minister has taken proactive steps through robust environmental policies.” Highlighting the state’s commitment to renewable energy, he stated, “The Government of West Bengal has implemented effective policies, offering financial subsidies and promoting the adoption of solar energies. These initiatives aim to transform the state’s economy into a green one. Additionally, efforts are directed toward providing organic fertilizers for landscaping, clay pack formation, and roadside beautification. The construction of Net Zero buildings is on the rise, reflecting the state’s proactive stance on environmental issues.” Expressing optimism for the future, he concluded, “Business, as the backbone of the nation, plays a crucial role. We firmly believe that West Bengal will emerge as a leader in terms of environmental, safety, and security standards.”

Dr. Rajesh Kumar, IPS, Member Secretary, WBPCB, emphasised the importance of corporate responsibility and environmental compliance, stating, “Every company is striving to contribute positively. The Government of India has mandated BRSR submissions, evaluating adherence to ESG norms. We aim to create a system that yields meaningful reports, assessing companies’ waste management and water affluence compliance. Our goal is a collaborative effort toward achieving the mission of a developed nation. Companies must address environmental concerns and by working together, we can make a significant impact. The four principles of ecology guide us: Nature knows best, everything is connected, everything must go somewhere and we must question our actions today. The alarming rise in cancer cases is linked to industries discharging untreated water into rivers, impacting public health. Our focus is on ensuring that only treated water is released. All generated waste should find a purpose. Some industries produce excess heat, now repurposed effectively. Initiatives may face criticism or seem challenging but persistence leads to success. “

Dr. Krishna Nirmalya Sen, Chairman of the ICC OHSE Committee and head of EHS at L&T MMH, emphasised the significance of the G20 agenda and its profound impact on climate change and livelihood. In his welcome address, he highlighted the Indian economy’s commitment to establishing a green and sustainable environment, placing Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles at its core. Dr. Sen stated, “Businesses today are actively implementing strategies aligned with eco-friendly practices, recognising the pivotal role of ESG in addressing economic and social challenges. The holistic approach of ESG principles acknowledges environmental concerns and has become an indispensable component in the corporate realm. Organisations are now striving to integrate sustainability into ESG factors, fostering a larger commitment to environmental responsibility. This environmental event stands as a flagship initiative for promoting sustainability, with a focus on carbon footprint reduction, community development, and the promotion of greenery.”

Mr. Aloke Mookherjea, Chairman Jury Board, ICC Environment Excellence Award, emphasised the importance of fostering a culture of ethical responsibility at the core of organisations driving ESG initiatives. He stated, “At the core of ESG, there must be a culture ingrained with ethical responsibility, transparency, and proper recording. Without transparency, it becomes challenging to drive responsible business and recording is paramount. It’s essential to be aware of others’ efforts towards a greener, sustainable environment. Active involvement and engagement with people, stakeholders, and local communities are key. Leadership plays a pivotal role in monitoring environmental performance indices, tracking raw material usage, water consumption, electricity consumption, and addressing carbon footprints. Philanthropy, encouragement of diversity and equity, and alignment of individuals with corporate objectives are integral aspects.” Highlighting the importance of the supply chain, he remarked, “We must assess whether those supplying to us align with ESG principles. The supply chain’s consideration of environmental concerns is pivotal. Cultivating a culture of adaptation is essential for sustainability. The most profitable and sustainable approach is responsibility, emphasising the need to stay well-informed. Resilience, longevity, and adaptation are crucial factors. Investing in green financing and embracing a circular economy is essential for a single planet. It is imperative to make money in business while catering to environmental needs. A good company produces high-quality items and great companies actively seek positive changes.”

Mr. Sudipta Mukherjee, Chief Advisor (Generation), CESC Limited, emphasised during his vote of thanks, “ESG considerations are integral in maintaining a positive corporate image, aligning with the objectives of a conscious market and attracting responsible investors. India, as the fifth-largest growing economy, has the opportunity to embrace ESG reductions that have transformed advanced economies. SEBI has introduced a BRSR framework for 100 listed companies. According to a recent survey, 75% of Indian companies are now reporting on the sustainability factors and ESG performance of their organizations. We need to elevate awareness about ESG and waste management for a sustainable green environment.”