Here’s how companies can integrate United Nations SDGs in their corporate strategies

January 14, 2019 5:18 AM

Policymakers in the manufacturing sector need to align their ‘Make in India’ goals with green technologies to stay competitive in global markets

The Montreal Protocol aimed towards ending the use of ozone-depleting substances.

By Sanjeev Seth

Climate change has taken centre stage, with scientific reports pointing to serious effects of climate change and global warming. The urgency for global climate action cannot be overemphasised. To India’s credit, it has never denied climate change and is taking actions against it as mandated in the UNFCCC. It is well on its way to achieve the target for emission intensity of the economy and share of non-fossil-fuel-based power capacity. India enhanced its climate goals in 2015, outlining eight goals for 2021-30, including reduction of emission intensity of its GDP by 33-35% from the 2005 levels, by 2030.

The Montreal Protocol aimed towards ending the use of ozone-depleting substances. Globally, the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry is working on an agreement to phase down and phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in HVAC equipment. India has launched a phase-out plan of the harmful hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFCs) and HFC refrigerants in a gradual manner. The ministry of environment, forest & climate change has released the draft India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) aimed at providing sustainable cooling while protecting the ozone layer.

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Converting national climate plans into reality is a complex process that requires contribution from everyone—it needs a public-private partnership. Governments and industries must work together to ensure successful implementation of Paris Agreement commitments.

Corporate India has been steadily contributing towards sustainable growth, including through mandatory CSR. There are early movers—companies that are proactive and wish to remain relevant in the longer term. Then there are others whose actions are primarily reactive in nature to government policies, CSR, self-regulation by industry bodies and evolving customer preferences.

Sustainability is no longer a buzzword; it’s a core component of business strategy. It’s an approach to creating long-term value by taking into consideration how a given organisation operates in ecological, social and economic environments. Sustainability is built on the assumption that developing such strategies foster company longevity. As expectations on corporate responsibility increase, and as transparency becomes more prevalent, companies are recognising the need to act on sustainability—this cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach, though there are some strategies that underpin most efforts to build a sustainable future.

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Integrating sustainability within a company’s business vision is a long-term goal. Some strategies include driving sustainability through operations and value chain. This requires making operations more environmentally-responsible—whether through reducing GHG emissions from buildings and manufacturing facilities, or in testing and designing products. By focusing on the “sustaining” part of sustainability, businesses can build long-term relationships, innovate enduring designs and invest in long-lasting infrastructure. Not only will this help firms survive over the long term, it will also help them thrive.

With India poised to become a major manufacturing hub, all players and policymakers in this sector need to align their “Make in India” goals with green technologies to still be competitive in global markets. Corporates can lead their respective industries towards a more sustainable world through their choices, improving their global operating footprint, and continuing to develop lower GHG emission options for the benefit of customers and the environment. Investing in energy-efficient processes and energy-saving measures can also bring about considerable savings.

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Businesses need to commit themselves to the future by investing in the next generation of climate-friendly solutions. Working with standard-setting bodies will provide the framework to ensure the solutions reach the market and benefit customers. As we move closer to our environmental deadline, the way forward is by integrating Sustainable Development Goals into corporate strategies. Those who adopt sustainability into their business will be better placed. Sustainable companies are more successful companies.

-The author is country leader, Climate Solutions, Trane & Thermo King, India & SAARC, Ingersoll Rand

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