Feb 03, 2012
Leading business houses debated the best strategies and opportunities that would deliver profits and also protect global commons at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) 2012.
New Delhi: It is a known fact that 55 of the top economies are not nations but corporations. They are larger than economies of countries such as New Zealand and Philippines.
What is the accountability of these corporations towards protecting global commons? How are they redefining their strategies in order to protect global commons in their own areas? Some of these questions were thrown up at a panel discussion at the 12th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit in New Delhi today.
The session Corporate Dialogue on Global Commons brought together worldwide leading corporate executives, ranging from agro business, power and telecommunication based companies to share their understanding of business responsibility towards community and environment.
Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi, Founder and Managing Director of Karuturi Global Limited India is a celebrated CEO in Africa for his poverty reduction strategies through agricultural business in Kenya and Ethopia.
Karuturi's business is in contact with nature as they are the largest rose producers. They utilise rainwater harvesting structures for irrigation purposes and not river water. They take responsibility towards existing habitations in project areas and are committed to protecting their culture and traditional practices.
He added that across Africa, it is common to see people, especially girl children, travelling five to ten kilometres away from their homestead in search of food and water. To address this challenge, the Karuturi business has built bore well structures close to their homes for easy water access, better health and sanitation.
The 100-years old company CLP is one of the largest power businesses in Asia-Pacific region. Mahesh Makhija, Director of Renewable Business Development spoke of reduction of emissions - an ambitious target for a power-based company. "Human thought of being able to destroy the earth is extremely arrogant; it is only the planet which will choose to destroy us if we don't do enough, " he cautioned.
An interesting part of the dialogue was dedicated to bio-refining technology as a green solution, introduced by Passi Rousu, President and Co-founder of Finland-based Chempolis. This corporation converts agricultural residues into paper fibres, and produces advanced bio-fuels and bio-chemicals to reduce harmful effects on the ecosystems.
Hilde M Tonne, Executive Vice President and Head of Group Industrial Development, Telenor, spoke of mobile telephony and its contribution towards protecting global commons. Telenor's corporate social responsibility projects support women entrepreneurs in offering communication services in Bangladesh and practice re-charging batteries to save high level of energy consumption.
One of the challenges faced is the lack of investors and companies who find huge risks in planning and financing. Partnerships between companies will add to the growth of such green technologies, was the general view.
Chairman and President of of Ingersoll-Rand India, Venkatesh Valluria highlighted the importance of changing present business models. "Corporates need to pool their activities for the bigger cause of society," he said.
To achieve sustainability, he stressed on a three-fold "convergence" strategy in business, technology and social. For instance, a business collaboration with the automotive sector to transfer food from farm to folks can avoid delay and food insecurity; or a social convergence strategy with local organisations to address low groundwater level in Bangalore.
Bhaskar Chatterjee of Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs provided the government's perspective on corporate social responsibility. He commented that business companies must not wait and depend on government or any other legal provisions; rather it should do for its community and environment wherever and whenever they can.
"Do what you can do and the essence of business responsibility lies there," he said. That should be the approach of corporate strategies towards protecting global commons.