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At the India Sustainability Leadership Summit 2017, circular economies and sustainable development goals were stressed upon.

Story by: Ashish Bhatia

Organised by Frost & Sullivan and TERI – The Energy and Resources Institute, the Indian Sustainability Leadership Summit 2017, held at Mumbai recently, delved upon Circular Economies and Sustainable Development goals (SDGs). Drawing attention to business models, tools, technologies, solutions and approaches, a part of the summit were the ‘Sustainability 4.0 Awards’, which acknowledged the agents of change. Aimed at encouraging the adoption of sustainable development practices in organisations, and to recognise the efforts of front runners, 19 awards, under the three heads of leaders, challengers and believers, were presented to deserving companies. Reliance Industries won the Sustainable Corporate of the Year Award. Tata Motors won the Safety Excellence Award, and Mahindra won the Sustainable Factory of the Year award for their engine manufacturing plant at Igatpuri, near Nashik . Henkel Adhesive Technologies India won the (Large Business) Leaders Award.

Circular economies and newer business models

Encompassing circular economies and new business models, the first session looked at how businesses are achieving SDGs. Defining circular economy as an alternative to a traditional linear-economy (make, use, dispose) where resources are used for as long as possible, and maximum value is extracted from them, the panelists touched upon recovering, and regenerating products and materials, at the end of their service life. With SDGs at the core, the session looked at how SDGs, spearheaded by the United Nations, have come to build upon the principles agreed under Resolution A/RES/66/288, known popularly as ‘The Future We Want’. It is a non-binding document released as a result of Rio+20 Conference held in 2012 at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The 17 SDGs, covering economic, social development and environmental protection, provide an opportunity for engagement. They also provide for a new type of partnership to address global challenges. With the inaugural session touching upon how business leadership transforms the future of business, and designs future development pathways apart from measuring business values and sharing the imperatives to achieve SDGs, the session saw panelists point at the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is a set of 17 global goals with 169 targets between them.

Chairing the session, G S Gill, Distinguished Advisor, TERI, touched upon the various aspects considered while embedding SDGs into an organisation. Expressed Dr. Jaco Cilliers, Country Director, UNDP in India, that the mistrust between the private sector, public sector and the think tanks has lead to sustainability that is hardly effective. Mentioned Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Managing Director – India, CLP Power India, “The Government should help by pricing resources correctly.” Averred Randal Newton, Vice President – Enterprise Engineering, Ingersoll Rand, “The need is to achieve a few goals over the short to medium term as the key to achieve SDGs. There is a need to achieve 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse effect by 2020.” “An investment in the region of USD five million is required to make the products efficient,” he mentioned. Newton referred to a market study by China Energy Service Company (ESCO), which mentions the need to generate new business models which are sustainable. He also touched upon the world’s largest manufacturer of small-wheel, zero-emission electric vehicles – Club Car. It is a Ingersoll Rand brand, and is claimed to offer a cleaner, quieter alternative to fossil-fuel propelled vehicles. Namita Vikas, Group President and Global Head – Climate Strategy and Responsible Banking, Yes Bank Ltd., spoke about the need to invest USD seven-to-eight million to mitigate climate change. “There is a need for green bonds to invest in circular economies. There is also a need to leverage the funds, to bring about an interesting subvention for environmental projects and advocate climate literacy,” she said. Rajiv Ranjan Mishra mentioned that there is a need to price resources at their true price. “There is a dire need to stay away from excessive government interference or subsidiaries,” he quipped.

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Commercial ‘normal’ and competitiveness

The plenary session looked at sustainability to dial a commercial ‘normal’ and competitiveness. Touching upon sustainable leadership through aspects like responsible financing, manufacturing, green infrastructure and development, the session saw panelists delve upon aspects like demand aggregation for greener products as well. Ajay Shankar, Former Secretary, Department of Industrial Promotion and Policy, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, and Distinguished Fellow – TERI, reiterated the need for ESCO model. He termed the model as a profitable investment, and stressed upon the frugal use of resources during manufacture. Shankar stated that the stakeholders ought to look at sun-rise sectors like hydrogen fuel production. Echoing Shankar’s sentiment about ESCO, Aalok A Deshmukh, Head – Energy Efficiency, Global Operations, Schneider Electric, called for it to be made a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) at leading organisations across industry verticals. Dilip N. Kulkarni, President Agri-Food Division at Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd., stressed upon nurturing energy as a third crop. “The nexus between energy, water and food will help to mitigate climate change,” he opined.

Drawing attention to Indian Railways, Shivendra Mohan, Executive Director, Environment Directorate, Railways Board, Ministry of Railways, stated that railways has achieved 10 to 12 per cent gain in traction energy. “There is a scope for additional 20 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency with the help of optimised driving assistance and a better payload to tare ratio,” he said. A further 15 to 20 per cent can be saved over a five year period by setting up a 1 kMW solar plant and a 170 MW wind plant, averred Mohan. Advocating the need to use alternative fuels in railways, Mohan drew attention to bio-fuels posing a limitation. Highlighting the fact that 20 per cent of freight running has been substituted by alternative fuels like CNG, Mohan explained, “In furnaces, LNG is being used. Apart from initiatives like water recycling, at Indian Railways, we are developing water bodies, and adopting green certification (ISO 14001/1SO 15001) across our manufacturing facilities and workshops.”

Smart sustainable businesses

The first of the two practitioner sessions delved upon technology and solutions for a smart, sustainable business. Touching upon risk management at three levels – oversight and governance, business and strategic risk management, and day-to-day risk management, Rakesh Agarwal, Vice President, at Reliance Industries, spoke on the subject of integrated risk management framework. He called upon the need for businesses to meet legislative requirements and implement, manage and foster voluntary initiatives at the corporate level. Terms like lean structure, internal crowd sourcing, use of shared resources and Industry Revolution 4.0 also found a mention in his speech. During the waste water treatment and recycling at manufacturing plants session, Dr. Mrityunjay Chaubey, Global Vice President – Environment and Sustainability, UPL, mentioned the need to adapt new ways to treat waste. He stressed on to primary, secondary, and tertiary sludge treatment.

Drawing immense interest, the second session touched upon high efficiency solar heating and power technologies against the backdrop of NITI Aayog’s statement about encouraging electric vehicles. Siddharth Malik, Managing Director, Megawatt Solutions, expressed that the future lay in efficient energy solutions. He drew attention to the MWS Smart Tree developed by his company. In comparison to a conventional solar panel, the MWS Smart Tree is an aesthetic alternative said Malik. Each tree, he explained, contains a trunk, and configurable branches of various capacities. S.N Rao, Chief Technology Officer, OMC Power, spoke about micro-grid technology. Ashok Chawla, Chairman, TERI, stressed upon the need to think in the forward direction. Stressing upon a bright future, he expressed optimism. Stating that the challenge is in building a sustainable model, Chawla said, the need is to mainstream it.

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