Kerala Government is working on the first of its kind policy to promote Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) investments as the State focuses to attract more investors, Industries Minister P. Rajeeve has said.

Inaugurating a seminar on ‘CSR and ESG: Formulating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Activities Within the ESG Framework’ organised by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) Kerala State Development Council, Rajeeve said a three-member committee chaired by Akshai Mangla of Said Business School, University of Oxford, C.J. George of Geojit Financial Services and Dinesh Nirmal of IBM Software has been formed to formulate the policy.

The Minister said Kerala had already made much headway in promoting ESG by launching an investment campaign under the banner ‘Responsible Investment and Responsible Industry’. The draft Industrial Policy 2022-2028, which is currently in the public domain for discussion, focused greatly on incentivising ESG-compliant industrial development.

The State has a severe crunch in land availability for setting up industries. The Government is trying to overcome this by aggressively promoting Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). Within 9 months, the State could facilitate setting up of 1,08,382 MSME units with a combined investment of ₹ 8,110 crore and potential for providing 2,88,049 new job opportunities. The scheme has been selected as the Best Practice in the MSME Sector by the Union Government, he pointed out.

The Industries Minister regretted the negative propaganda about the industrial scene in Kerala. Contrary to the public perception, several industries in Kerala were blazing new trails. The Kochi-based Carborundum Universal Limited (CUMI) is the first company in the country to manufacture Graphene and Penpol in Thiruvananthapuram. The country’s largest manufacturer of blood bags being situated in Thiruvananthapuram and Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) in Kochi has already logged three crores in carbon credits. Despite these and many other achievements, Kerala is branded as industry-unfriendly, which was quite sad, the Minister said.

The Industries Department had identified Artificial Intelligence, Ayurveda, biotechnology, design, electronics, EVs, engineering and R&D, food tech, graphene, hi-tech farming, high value added rubber products, logistics, medical equipment manufacture, nanotechnology, renewable energy, retail, robotics, tourism and hospitality, 3D printing and sports sector as potential areas for ESG goals-based investment.

Chief Secretary V.P. Joy said the State is poised to achieve all the major Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ahead of the deadline set for the whole of India. The State has already set several examples for the rest of the country to follow in health care, education, sustainability and solid waste management.