Smart connections for addressing sustainability challenges
Delhi, June 19, 2017
In India leading a trade mission, Martin Van Den Berg, Dutch Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade stressed how international trade can both create opportunities as well as risks for businesses along the value chain, especially in today’s interconnected world characterized by global production networks. He also asserted that a strong emphasis on sustainability along global value chains can reduce the negative impacts for businesses and societies from such risks. He firmly believes that corporate responsibility should be an integral part of business and therefore have a strong ‘business case’, which can help a business to balance higher productivity on one hand with good societal relationship on the other. He felt that Netherlands and India can work together hand-in-hand to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries, with sustainable business being at the heart of this relation.
He was speaking at a seminar entitled, ‘The Road towards an Inclusive and Sustainable Business Case’ being organized under the auspices of the Indo-Dutch CSR & Sustainability Forum (INDUS-Forum). This event was being jointly organized by the Centre for Responsible Business (CRB), Embassy of Netherlands in India and MVO Netherlands here on Monday, 19th June at the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi. The INDUS-Forum was initiated by CRB and the Embassy of Netherlands in India a year ago, and has been able to mobilise considerable interest and support from over 500 Indian and Dutch businesses and stakeholders ever since. MVO Netherlands engagement with INDUS-Forum would add further filip and ensure that the project enables ‘smart collaborative projects’ moving from the current phase of dialogue and thought leadership on Sustainable Business between India and The Netherlands. The slogan of INDUS-Forum is ‘let’s make all trade and investment between India and the Netherlands sustainable’, which is really aligned with the growth of industry, society and economy of both the countries. The forum aims to turn sustainability related challenges into business opportunities and make trade and investment between India and the Netherlands sustainable. It endeavors to achieve this vision by inspiring, informing, advising and connecting businesses, experts, CSOs and other stakeholders- especially through concrete interventions in three key sectors Apparel & Textiles, Agriculture/Agro-Business and IT and IT enable Services.
Based on discussions involving stakeholders from the above three sectors facilitated by CRB, The Dutch Embassy and MVO Netherlands, it was clear that INDUS-forum can link practitioners and ‘good practices’ on sustainable business from India and the Netherlands, co-creating solutions to sustainability challenges on both sides. MVO Netherlands will bring its rich experience of creating an online community on sustainability challenges and solutions, which will be supported by offline activities and engagements for taking the INDUS-forum initiative forward.
The event today was successful with over 60 participants from from business, brands, knowledge organisations, enterprises, NGOs and experts – who have considerable interest on sustainability.
In today’s event four different organisations discussed some of their key ‘sustainability challenges’ with the audiences through intensive group work and formulated action agenda based on the suggestions received. From the discussions in these groups, it was evident that INDUS-Forum is expected to provide different set of support services and information to help address the varying nature of sustainability challenges on the table. While for a small Indian agro-business exporting to Netherlands, INDUS can serve as a platform to connect with a variety of food distributors. For a Dutch SME endeavoring to help electrify rural India, INDUS-Forum could help leverage financial schemes by linking with MFIs. For a domestic textile supplier, INDUS-Forum could help access ‘good practices’ to help address the problem of prices for the marginalized cotton farmers. Whereas, for component manufacturers in the textile sector, INDUS can help benchmark ‘good practices’ to help build better appreciation not only about sustainable processes but also sustainable products.
INDUS-Forum will strive to offer such sustainability solutions to businesses from both India and the Netherlands, and thereby integrate sustainability at the core of the expanding bilateral trade and investment relations between the two countries.
Forum Launched To Promote Sustainable Trade Between India & Netherlands
New Delhi (March 22, 2017):
A forum to address sustainability issues at the trade and Investment between India and Netherlands was launched today in the capital. The Forum aims to help Indian businesses as growing demands and regulations of sustainable practices in international trade aligned with SDGs, are affecting many Indian businesses having trade ties with the European markets. To facilitate this forum, the Dutch embassy in India and Ministry of Foreign affairs of Netherlands have joined hands with the Centre for Responsible business (CRB).
At the launch of the forum, addressing the gathering of more than 50 companies, the Ambassador of Netherlands to India, Alphonsus Stoelinga emphasized the need of such forums for the the implementation of clean and responsible business practices in India as the global value chain of many businesses ends up here and provides huge revenues to Indian businesses and employment to millions of Indian people and this should grow further. He added that Netherlands has a clear responsibility for achieving inclusive and sustainable supply chains and also cited the potential of Indian market which is huge and growing at an unprecedented pace – as another reason to promote sustainable business between India and Netherlands. He said that businesses should look at the sustainable practices as the driver and not the obstacle to their businesses as it helps businesses grow in the long run.
Arun Asthana, the Executive Director of CRB, while elaborating upon the objectives and agenda of the INDUS FORUM, mentioned it as a very meaningful and much required journey and said that a cleaner business is not only good for the environment and community but for the businesses itself as well since the way of doing business and consumers awareness is changing these days and consumers are getting more aware of the global concerns of environment and social wellbeing. Being a responsible brand will help businesses grow more in such a world.
Netherlands is among the five largest trading partners of India. More than 225 Dutch companies have operations in India while close to 200 Indian companies are operating in Netherlands. Representatives of more than 50 companies and organisations from Netherlands and India attended this conclave. This includes Wipro, Tata Steels, Shell, Rabobank International, Genpact, Philips, Mars Food, Quavac, Novozymes, Godrej, Jindal Steels, Rural Spark Energy, Arcadis, Green insights, Solidaridad, ICCO, Quality Council of India, Fairwear Foundation, WWF, UNICEF, EU Delegtion to India, Belgian and Spanish Embassies.
During the discussions on the way forward, Arindom Dutta, Asia Head of Rabobankmentioned the compliances and regulatory needs of sustainable businesses in India and warned that in near future the businesses could find it difficult to get funds as financial institutions and investors have started looking closely at the sustainability elements of the ventures and borrowers. Amit Ganguly from Genpact emphasized the need of knowledge repository and data bank for businesses to implement sustainable practices. CRB plans to launch a digital platform to address such issues. This platform aims to de-jargonise the whole subject of sustainability and provide access to knowledge, tools and updates from all over the world using its knowledge network spread across the continents. For a wider uptake and facilitate Indian MSME sector, CRB also plans to pool and provide in a syndicated manner, inaccessible or expensive tools and processes to make businesses sustainable.