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Let's go green

Jun 06, 2012

The FE-EVI Green Business Survey 2011-12 proved to be an exhaustive and informative study about sustainable development practices among Indian corporates. Later, the Green Business Leaders awards reinforced that 'going green' was being taken seriously by corporates than just being another term in vogue.

Everyone has jumped on the environment bandwagon. From governments who are preoccupied with the effects their policies have on the world, to corporates who are more and more looking at incorporating environment-friendly practices; everyone wants to be associated with the word 'green'.

The Green Business Leaders awards, tried to find out exactly this: Who is actually going green through their practices than just tagging it under empty CSR initiatives. The awards were a result of the survey undertaken by Emergent Ventures India and the Financial Express. The FE-EVI Green Business Survey was started four years ago to assess how Indian companies are negotiating the issue of climate change. The survey and awards are a collaboration between Financial Express and Emergent Ventures India.

This year the awardees were judged on four basic parameters: Climate change and Environment, Natural Resources management, Stakeholder Engagement and CSR, Corporate Governance and Disclosure. Organisations from across the board participated in these awards ranging from the Cement sector to the Manufacturing sector to the FMCG sector.

The winner were; Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. in the Automobile category, Shree Cement Ltd. in the Cement category, Tata Chemicals Ltd. in Chemicals & Fertilizers, Cognizant Technology Solutions in Information Technology, Tata Coffee Ltd. in the FMCG category, Essar Steel in Metals category, Larsen & Toubro Ltd. in the Other Manufacturing category and Jain Irrigation System Ltd. in Other Services.

This year’s survey looked at how companies are putting in place sustainable business practices and implementing decisions that contribute to sustainable development. The survey threw up many interesting facts and some encouraging signs. For instance, overall GHG intensities have decreased at the annual rate of 10 per cent, and interestingly companies that cited CSR as the main driver to reduce GHG emissions showed most decline. 42 per cent of the companies were now seriously measuring and managing their water use. But on the other hand, waste management has not yet figured in the top list of concerns for many companies. Even though, the survey showed that there has been a twelve per cent decrease in hazardous waste levels; the bigger concern was the cumulative amount of waste produced, even if it was non-hazardous.

Numbers and statistics aside, what the survey shed light on was an increased understanding on the part of the companies that the economic survival and growth of their organisations is closely intertwined with climate change. Resources are seen as a major cause of concern by many. This year saw 88 per cent of the companies having concerns over water as a critical resource, while 67 per cent were concerned with fluctuating petrol prices. The realisation that resources are limited, propels many companies into increased vigilance. Though ironically there was no need felt to understand better interactions with surrounding communities by Indian companies. In view of the recent friction between local communities and corporates, Singur and POSCO for instance; such altercations should perhaps be taken seriously.

Even though the economic slowdown has translated into a policy limbo of sorts, it remains important to still focus on equity and sustainable development as a priority. As Dr Veerappa Moily, Minister of Corporate Affairs, pointed out it, 'It’s important to remember the big picture, GDP is a healthy indicator but is not the end and be all’. While such awards boost the morale of companies with good practices, such surveys keep climate change in the lime light.

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