While the regulators, governments and NGOs have been talking about sustainability over the past several years, it is industries that will drive the future of sustainability, said Kamal Bali, President and Managing Director, Volvo Group, India.

He was delivering a special address at a conference on ESG for industrial transformation titled, ‘Environmental - Social - Governance for Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here on Monday. 

Holistic sustainability

Bali, who is also Deputy Chairman CII Southern Region, said: “While ESG will define industry standards to measure and report the environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices, it is the actual approach to holistic sustainability that will decide its future.”

“In 2015, 115 companies across the world committed to net zero and science-based targets to reduce emissions. Seven years down the line, it has increased to more than 3,000 companies,” said Bali. 

He noted that ESG should not be seen as a peripheral thing done outside the business, but should be embedded with all business processes. “Whatever you do, it has to be environmentally friendly, socially inclusive, economically viable and morally ethical. If you tick these four boxes, that will be the sum and substance of ESG or sustainability,” said Bali. 

In her keynote address, Pooja Kulkarni, MD and CEO, Guidance Tamil Nadu, said the State is not just promoting ESG-focussed companies, but is also at the forefront of ESG practices.

“Textile industries in Tamil Nadu contribute more than 50 per cent of exports. The garment industry sustains itself on two pillars: wind energy and the banking (of power generated) facilities provided by the State government, which has made it globally competitive,” she added. 

Kulkarni said while the textile industry was initially not comfortable with the zero liquid discharge (ZLD), the State government’s push and co-operation from the industry has made it possible to implement ZLD practices in the textile units. She highlighted that the textile units in the State are of global standards when it comes to environmental sustainability. “This is an example that industry and government can come together to create a successful, cost competitive and environmentally sustainable model.” 

In his special address, Sriramulu Balakrishnan, MD, KG Denim Ltd, said the textile industry in Tamil Nadu is at the forefront of sustainability. “In our own company, we have been measuring the greenhouse gas certification and emission protocols for more than ten years now. We focus on areas such as energy and water conservation, minimising air emissions, reducing waste generation and protection of biodiversity across our locations.”

 “India now stands committed to reducing its emissions intensity of its GDP by 45 per cent before 2030, about 50 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources in the same period and also reduce its total projected carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes,” said Dr Rajeev Ranjan, IAS (Retd), Director, ICRO, NPC, New Delhi, at the Conference on ESG for Industry Transformation  (Environmental – Social – Governance for Aatmanirbhar Bharat), organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Southern Region.