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International Assembly On Business Sustainability

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How Green Was My Valley: FORE School
How green was my valley? And, how sustainable is ‘Business Sustainability'?

The International Conference on Business Sustainability organized by FORE School of Management, Delhi, in association with PHD Chamber of Commerce, from 28th to 30th November in New Delhi, witnessed thought-provoking discussions on a wide range of topics related to the theme of business sustainability. Delegates and speakers included academicians, researchers, consultants, NGO activists, corporate managers and bureaucrats from various countries.

The conference deliberated upon the challenges and issues before business houses, in moving on from a few sustainability initiatives to more sustainable business models and best practices; the triple bottom line including people, planet and profit; the market for trading carbon credits and related ethical issues.

"We produce, so we pollute, approach has to be stopped. Any by-product of a production system if not used by another production system, is a pollutant. Innovative models should actively integrate sustainability principles into the businesses. Business houses need to take a long-term strategic view by identifying sustainability opportunities that hold the highest value potential and goes far beyond reputation management or PR stunt. Only then, the future generations will hold respect for the past generations," said, Dr. Jitendra K. Das, Director of FORE School of Management, Delhi.

As per reports this year, 78 per cent reporting to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) were integrating climate change into their business strategies, which is up by 10 per cent from 2011. While lot many organizations now are seriously concerned about saving energy, developing green products, capturing value through growth and return on capital, the bigger question is whether companies can make a sufficient reduction in carbon footprint to meet what scientists say will be needed to avoid more rises in global temperatures. Prof. Kirk Davidson, The Morrison Professor of International Studies, Mount St. Mary's University, Maryland, emphasized on Moral Sustainability which goes beyond just respecting the environment and stipulates conservation in ethically & socially responsible ways.

Prof. Biswanath Bhattacharya, Advisor, Asian Development Bank, Manila, expressed the concern that greater economic activity in Asian countries would lead to larger consumption of resources. India alone would require some 1200 million metric tonnes of energy by 2030. Larger consumptions will have bigger impacts. He suggested that Asia should create its own carbon market that could be shared by the countries within the continent.

While presenting the legal aspects of Corporate Social Responsibility, Mr. Shashank Mehta of Climate Connect, said, "Corporate Social Responsibility should be just termed ‘Corporate responsibility' because it has become so inevitable. Organizations should set aside 2 percent of profit for CSR activities". Mr. Vikas Kumar, CEO of Online CarbonFinance.com, added, "The only way to encourage skeptical decision makers is to link profits with sustainability so that they are able to strategize CSR for the economic viability of the business along with the social obligations being met."

The conference debated upon the ethical issues of buying Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) or Carbon Credits, issued by the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) executive board for emission reductions achieved by CDM projects and verified by DOE under the rules of the Kyoto Protocol.

Mr. Niranjan Khatri, General Manager, ITC Welcomgroup while giving an account of some of the initiatives and best practices followed by ITC in recycling of water, solar power generation, green-design houses, tree plantation and innovative ways of handling waste, said, "The belief, that sustainable development would lead to erosion of profits, is a myth".

Cutting-edge research papers, based on both theoretical and empirical research, were presented in the conference in technical sessions. Relevance of regulation for business sustainability was discussed by a paper that examined the reasons why environmental regulation fails to deliver. Sustainability issue was also examined in the context of specific industrial segments. A paper analyzed the role of mobile banking for sustainable growth of the banking sector. Another paper studied the level of social responsibility of sugar manufacturers. An empirical study examined the sustainability of Indian apparel export sector.

The unprecedented economic growth over the last few decades ensured growing environmental pollution and increase in the economic disparity across population.

Conditions across the globe are getting worse, and thus, posing a major threat to global prosperity, security, and stability. Pacific Island countries, Maldives, Bangladesh and many more regions, despite leaving the smallest carbon footprints in the world, are likely to suffer the most severe consequences including the threat of non-existence of their islands, if the world community does not accomplish to manage sustainability. "It's one planet. And, we as a global community therefore need to make choices today, that will affect our own lives and the lives of future generations", said, Dr. P. P Bhojvaid, Director FRI, Dehradun.

The conference was graced by many other international and national dignitaries like Mr. J.K Mehta, Regional Manager, World Energy Council; Mr. Lars Chirstiansen, Commercial Counselor; Danish Embassy; Mr. Suman Jyoti Khaitan, Senior Vice President, PHD Chamber of Commerce; Ms. Valerie Issumo, CEO, Prana Sustainable Water, Geneva; Ms. Maria Paatero Karnakari, Senior Vice President, Fortum Asia.

Source: nitin|talent creation|DebriN Synergy.

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