India – CII

What is your country’s government doing with respect to the SDGs and how have they engaged business around this agenda?

Ever since the SDGs were adopted in 2015, India has taken an active role to promote them at various levels. The Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament of India has organized a special briefing session on the SDGs, bringing together Members of Parliament, legislators from South Asia and other BRICS nations to collectively work towards the realization of these goals. Efforts have also been made to align the India’s National Development Agenda to the Sustainable Development framework.  

The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog), a policy ‘Think Tank’ of the Government, is mandated with the task of coordinating work on the SDGs by adopting a synergistic approach involving central ministries, States/Union Territories (UTs), civil society organizations, academia and business. Key actions undertaken so far by NITI Aayog with the support of its stakeholders include:

  • An extensive mapping of the SDG targets with the schemes and programs that the government of India engages in has been developed to record their interlinkages.
  • A series of 22 consultations at national and regional levels have been conducted with the stakeholders focusing on different goals, capacity building, evaluation framework, sharing of new knowledge and best practices, and progress mapping.
  • The first Voluntary National Review Report on the implementation of the SDGs was presented at the United Nations High Level Political Forum 2017.
  • The SDG India Index Baseline report was also launched in 2018 to track the progress of all the States and UTs on a set of 62 Priority Indicators, measuring their progress on the outcomes of the interventions and schemes of the Government of India. The report focuses on 13 out of 17 SDGs (leaving out SDGs 12, 13, 14 and 17).
  • A national dashboard has also been developed to present the SDG India Index 2018 analysis and shows the progress of the states and UTs against the goals and targets.
  • With the assistance of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) a National Indicator Framework (NIF) has been developed in consultation with Ministries and States/UTs. MoSPI has also been leading discussions at the global level on the indicator framework for the SDGs.

NITI Aayog has also entered into a three-year partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry to engage with the private sector. This initiative aims to showcase the efforts of Indian businesses to the Government and the UN, increase awareness amongst industry, share best practices and build a tracking mechanism for further improving industry engagement to achieve SDGs by 2030.

 

What are some of the key trends with regard to how business is engaging with the SDGs in your country?

Business engagement on SDGs varies from scale, ownership and sector. Awareness about the SDGs is high among medium to large enterprises. Understanding is largely limited to listed companies and those that have international operations.

The most common practice of adoption is largely evidenced in mapping exercises of ongoing sustainability activities with the SDGs and disclosing this information through sustainability or CSR reports. There are isolated examples of businesses trying to use the SDGs as a framework to inform business strategy or sustainability strategy. Hence, the SDGs are largely used as an output mechanism driving communications rather than an input framework informing business decision making.

 

What is your organization doing with respect to the SDGs?

Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) through its Centre of Excellence for sustainable development (CESD), works with the Government both at the central and state level and with many industry leaders to encourage the commitment on sustainable initiatives. As an MOU partner of the NITI Aayog, CESD seek to improve and consolidate business engagement on the SDGs. The partnership seeks to achieve the following concrete outcomes:

  • Showcase Indian business action on the SDGs to Indian government and the UN;
  • Improve and consolidate business engagement on the SDGs and proliferate and cross-fertilize ideas and practices on SDGs between business and government.

We have launched a report called Indian Solutions for The World To Achieve SDGs to showcase the Indian companies that have incorporated the SDGs framework as a part of their business strategy and gone about achieving them. The report also provides an opportunity to learn from each other, through case examples, initiatives and measures being taken by businesses to stay ahead of the curve.

We have also entered into a two-year partnership with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in South Asia to start a regional initiative. In this partnership eight high level stakeholder meetings have been planned with an objective to:

  • Align the SDG framework with the non-financial reporting standards in the South Asian context,
  • Demonstrate the interlinkages between the SDG framework and the reporting standards to industries,
  • Assist them to adopt the SDGs into their reporting strategies.

So far six of those meetings have been successfully conducted and there was a positive reception from the private sector on the initiative. The remaining two meetings are scheduled to be completed before the end of 2019.      

In addition to working with the government, we also engage directly with the business to increase their awareness and build capacity to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. Our flagship annual Sustainability Summit brings together key stakeholders from business, government and civil society to discuss and raise awareness of current issues related to business and the SDGs, build partnerships and share best practices. We also provide business with customized solutions or help them align their sustainability strategies with the SDGs through existing standards, frameworks or guidelines like the SDG Compass.

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