Indian wisdom has shaped the world for centuries through ethics, philosophy, literature, culture and religion. Many European languages can trace their roots there. Now eyes are turning again to India to see what sustainable practices are being put in place by its leadership. 

Coal provides much of the fuel for its industry. India, alongside China, garnered global criticism for its intervention in last year’s COP26 climate deal. They opposed the original wording to “phase out” coal and so the text was switched to “phase down”. However, many business leaders know the importance of climate change and environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities.

Deepak Parekh, chair of Housing Finance Development Corporation, noted in an interview with The Times of India that change was coming quickly to Indian boardrooms. “ESG and a purpose-driven strategy is an expectation by all investors today,” Parekh said. “This entails a range of issues from diversity, inclusion, climate risk, emissions, supply chains, labour rights, anti-corruption among several others. There is a sea change in terms of non-financial disclosures by companies and greater board oversight on these parameters is being called for.” 

Our CEO, Helle Bank Jorgensen, also has her finger on the pulse of what is happening in the Indian business world. Her latest article in Director Today addresses the issues that India and the world now faces: 

“A fast-growing number of people now realize that there are limits to how much we can use nature’s free resources without putting in place any regenerative measures. A warmer planet will change how we live, work and do business. Mother earth is starting to send us invoices in the form of severe changes to weather patterns. 

We are already cashing cheques, but the price just keeps getting higher. We are having to spend more money making businesses and supply chains more resilient to this climate onslaught. Lives and livelihoods are being lost due to these climate-change events. Biodiversity is shrinking like a puddle in a heatwave, while more and more people are experiencing a sharp drop in quality of life and their health. 

In short, the world needs a miracle, probably several. However, there is one that a board of directors can deliver when they start to learn about and understand the risks and opportunities that they face. And that must start with them learning the ABCs of ESG (environmental, social and governance) and climate issues. These issues, which have traditionally been excluded from financial analyses, now need to be addressed by companies in India and all over the world.” 

As Helle concludes, there is a lot of work to be done for all of us. And not much time to do it. 

Read the article in full from the January 2022 edition of Director Today

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