Striving Towards Sustainable Development

Social enterprises operate as independent businesses with the goal of generating profits. However, these enterprises have a clear and explicit mission to create a positive societal impact.

Striving Towards Sustainable Development

This cogent definition was provided by Mr. Richard Weingarten, Managing Director of Intellecap, speaking at the International Conference on Sustainable Development and Governance recently organized at Amrita’s Coimbatore campus.

The conference was organized in partnership with Deakin University, Australia.

Intellecap provides consulting services to social enterprises that operate in the space between profit-making shareholder-value-maximizing corporate entities and not-for-profit concerns.

“In India, social enterprises are relatively young, but ambitious. Finding and retaining good talent, raising capital and building the value chain are some of the challenges they face,” the MD elaborated.

He enumerated examples of social enterprises that operate in the agriculture, education, energy, healthcare, livelihood development and water/sanitation sectors in India.

Striving Towards Sustainable Development

Also presented were examples from the non-profit world through representatives of the M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Shanti Ashram and other NGOs, that worked in different ways to solve societal problems.

Delegates heard from corporate titans as well. “Industry is generally viewed as the destroyer of the planet; however, our own example shows that we can do good for people and society, and make money,” remarked Mr. Bhaskar Bhat, MD of Tata’s Titan Industries.

A workshop led by professors from Deakin University helped delegates from industry learn about worldwide business developments in sustainability, including the Global Reporting Initiative and Principles for Responsible Investments.

The United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) monitors and regulates activities of corporations with a view to sustainability, and its representatives shared important insights with the delegates.

Striving Towards Sustainable Development

Mr. Pooran Pandey Executive Director of UNGC India elaborated on Role of Indian Corporate Sector in Achieving Millennium Development Goals: 2015 and Beyond. His Australian counterpart, Mr. Mathew Thukaki, offered examples where corporations had played key roles in solving natural resource based sustainability problems.

The closing day saw presentations from leading Indian companies, TCS and Infosys.

While the TCS representative detailed energy audits, onsite renewable energy generation, renewable energy procurement from third parties, server consolidation and virtualization to save energy, rain water harvesting, drip irrigation system and sewage treatment plants on its campuses, printer log tracking, e-offer letters and a green procurement policy, the Infosys representative also supplemented his presentation with actual numbers.

“We have reduced our air conditioning load by selecting efficient technologies such as radiant cooling and including the insulation of double brick walls. We ensure the maximum usage of natural light. Our biogas plant handles 2000 kg of organic waste daily. We estimate that our sustainability related initiatives have resulted in annual company savings of 300 million units of electricity and 1.5 billion litres of water. We estimate a yearly reduction of 333,000 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions,” he emphasized.

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