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  • India Inc discusses its ‘Vision for a Sustainable Tomorrow: Business as a Game Changer’ at the World CEO Forum hosted by TERI- BCSD India

    4 February 2010

    This year's World CEO Forum-curtain raiser to DSDS 2010 discussed the overarching theme: "Vision for a Sustainable Tomorrow: business as a game changer" with three pillars of discussions focusing on Vision 2050: the new agenda for business, Green Economy: a transformation to address climate change and multiple crises, and Water: the new challenge for the 21st century. The World CEO Forum, organised by TERI Business Council for Sustainable development (BCSD India), a partner of the WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development), Geneva and a member of its regional network. Present at the inaugural session were, Dr R K Pachauri, President, TERI-BCSD India & Director General, TERI, Mr Bjoern Stigson, President, WBCSD, Mr Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC, Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General, Bureau of Energy Efficiency among other dignitaries.

    Adressing top corporate CEO's from across the globe, Dr R K Pachauri said, "I am delighted that this session, seventh of the series, is especially significant as TERI-BCSD now has 102 companies as its members who are committed to establish a link between business and industry with sustainable development. Business now has to focus on the objective of sustainability while taking business decision. We greatly cherish our relationship with WBCSD. For India, there aren't too many choices and we can't continue with business as usual. The focus has to shift from productivity, profitability and sales from the next quarter to a quarter century. I think that time has come to set the business pace. This is a trendsetting curtain-raiser. This World CEO Forum is important because we have to tell the government and the civil society that business is going to lead."

    Talking about the need to move towards 'green' business, Mr Bjoern Stigson, said, "World is now all about implementation and innovative solution. More Indian companies should be a part of WBCSD as the voice of the Indian business community is important to the global forum. In a short period of time, i.e. by 2050, we would have more than 3 billion people on planet by 2050, out of which the majority would live in the developing nations. Nations like India will focus at increasing the quality of life-reducing poverty, improving education, health services, etc. The urbanisation would increase from 50% to 70% by 2050. Thus, we need to build as much urbanized infrastructure in 40 years that we have done till now. In the business, we need to focus on non-polluting, resource-efficient business - the 'green' race is on. China wants to be the largest green exporter. Japan is the most resource efficient country. The 'green' race is also between companies. Thus, India has to decide where it is in the 'green' race and if you wish to be a part of it, you need to move fast."

    The forum discussed three essential pillars. The Vision 2050: the new agenda for business is a detailed Pathway for bridging the gap and reaching the goal, with feasible milestones for energy, mobility, human development and other key elements. This Pathway is based on some big assumptions, including a sea of change in the way business, government and society work together. It depends on the presence of a long list of 'must have' conditions for success, and it includes risks and questions that are not yet answered. It demonstrates that behavior change and social innovation are as crucial as better solutions and technological innovation.

    At the session on Green Economy: a transformation to address climate change and multiple crises, it was clear that the current financial crisis suggests that sustainability thinking is more important than ever before. Green recovery is high on the agenda, which has a core task of stabilizing the global financial system and coordinating efforts to rescue the global economy. In fact, many in business and government have suggested that a 'green solution' can be found to both economic and ecological challenges, creating new jobs and markets by investing in clean technology, new forms of energy, retrofitting buildings and equipment and managing forests and other ecosystems. Further, to be efficient and coherent, an integrated approach should be adopted when pursuing a green economy. The session examined the role that business will play in promoting this scenario and particularly in addressing the needs of the poor and the vulnerable.

    Water scarcity is potentially a big threat to industrial sector that already faces fierce competition amongst different users. Thus, the forum also focused on Water - the new challenge for the 21st century due increasing complexities of peaking demand, unscrupulous use and added risks due to climate change, the prospective water availability scenario is set to be the greatest challenge of the 21st century amongst all the natural resources. Given the challenges of water scarcity and pollution, the conscience for efficient water management needs to take a centre stage in business planning by corporate sector. The contemporary approach of typical 'end-of-pipe' treatment of industrial wastewater need to shift towards decentralized, process integrated, water management with efforts towards 'zero discharge' or 'positive water balance', thus reducing the fresh water consumption as well as pollution. Hence, the companies need to give attention to their water use efficiencies and the vulnerabilities they could face as issues of water scarcity come to a head and force changes in pricing and regulatory structures. Scarcity usually encourages better management of resources.

    Present on the occasion were prominent figures from the corporate world like Ms. Meera H Sanyal, Executive Vice President & Country- ABN AMRO Bank India, Mr. Atul Singh- Coca-Cola India & South-West Asia, Mr Arun Seth, Chairman, BT (India) Pvt Ltd, Mr Axel Hilgers- Director, South Asia- Lufthansa, Prof Jeffrey D Sachs, Director & Earth Institute & Special Adviser to the Secretary General of the United Nations and Mr Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC among others.

    The CEO forum precedes the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2010, organised by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). Around 200 CEO’s from organizations like ABN Ambro , Accenture, ArcelorMittal India Ltd, Bharti Airtel, Schneider Electric, BPCL, ACC Ltd, Philips, Deutsche Bank, Dassault Systems, BASF India Ltd, Coca-Cola, Infosys Technologies Limited, Nokia, and heads of multi/bi-lateral organizations and senior government representatives from across the globe participated in the forum.

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