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TERI’s CEO Summit to debate resource efficiency

Jan 30, 2013

Businesses from across the world have gathered at TERI’s 10th CEO Summit in Delhi to create new paradigms of business’ responsibility, to debate issues over water and hold discussions over the post Rio 20+ scenario.

TERI’s 10th CEO Summit is a part of the prestigious three-day Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2013, that will delve into what businesses can do to make a difference. Chief guest at the inaugural session, Dr Farooq Abdullah, Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, launched the report, Electric Vehicles: Challenges and Opportunities in India prepared by YES Bank and TERI-BCSD.

The theme for this CEO Summit is ‘Resource Revolution: A global imperative and how business can shape it.’ Peter Bakker, President, WBCSD, said that the need of the hour for businesses is to integrate sustainability in their work and this is an area where businesses are getting serious. He highlighted that there were no CEOs at the first Rio conference in 1992, while there were more than 1,300 business leaders and 400 CEOs at Rio 20+ in 2012.

Interestingly, everyone agreed that Corporate Social Responsibility as a concept needed change. Member of Planning Commission of India, Arun Maira said, “CSR, like now, needs to be killed. And a new paradigm of responsibility of business should enter.” Bakker agreed to this too, saying “CSR is nice- but it isn’t going to change the world.” For Bakker, for CSR to be effective, the urgency of sustainability issues needs to be the realised. Farooq Abdullah too, called for action to all the business leaders on the need for businesses to look beyond profit, getting together to make a better future.

The minister’s emphasis was on the need for India to have a concrete renewable energy plan. He applauded the government’s National Solar Mission by enumerating its success. By 2022, India looks at having 20 thousand megawatts of solar energy compared to 1300 megawatts of solar energy produced at present. Giving poignant examples of the adverse effects of climate change from his native state he made a mention of those hills where he played around in childhood but which are now melting due to climate change.

Talked about issue of water as a resource and the need for businesses to look out for this as their biggest challenge, Pachauri said that 500 million people in South Asia would be affected by the melting of glaciers, making it a bigger problem for developing countries. Bakker called water ‘the language in which the planet talks to us through ice, floods, etc.’

A moot point on which many seemed to agree is the failure of R90 20+ in terms of it translating into action. Bakker said Rio failed to deliver, and Maira put such inertia to policy log jam. Maira took the lack of policy action, as the result of a lack of trust between people and businesses even as he impressed upon the need for businesses to become more human by trying to usher more trust between them and the people.

If the inaugural session of the CEO Summit was anything to go by, the Summit promises to be a charged session, with the business community determined to rack their brains, get together and discuss ways of sustainable development.

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