Why is ESG becoming a big deal?

ESG is the blanket term for sustainable and responsible business practices. It is a framework that considers environmental, social and governance aspects alongside financial aspects in the investment decision-making process. ESG is an assessment of a company’s collective conscientiousness for social and environmental factors.

Importance of ESG

The pandemic has fuelled a growing awareness of the interconnected nature of the world we live in. Owing to this many companies have responded by announcing net-zero or carbon-neutral commitments by pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and investing in climate action.

As awareness spreads, adopting Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) measures is now more valuable than ever before. It has become the need of the hour for businesses of all sizes to thrive in the present and future proof themselves.

Furthermore, firms that have successfully implemented sustainability and ESG strategies into their core operations and business activities tend to do better than other companies. Investors are increasingly considering ESG performance to [KH2] mitigate risks and generate sustainable long-term financial returns.

Government’s facilitation

ESG has gained currency in the past decade. A lot of that can be credited to The United Nation putting forth a list of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are comprehensive and adopted by the UN as the basis for sustainable development—and are increasingly being used by governments, businesses and investors too as benchmarks for their sustainability initiatives.

In India, the country’s top think tank NITI Aayog has aligned the 17 SDGs suitable to the Indian context and inked a Sustainable Development Framework (SDF) for 2018 till 2022 with the UNO.

The Government of India has earmarked a budget of INR 110 trillion to action the same. The main focus areas are poverty and urbanisation; health, water, and sanitation; education; nutrition and food security; climate change, clean energy and disaster resilience; skilling, entrepreneurship and job creation; and gender equality and youth development.

Furthermore, this year the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) implemented a new sustainability-related norm for the top 1,000 listed companies, bringing India’s sustainability reporting to global reporting standards. The new BRSR format is built on the nine principles of the government of India’s “National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct”, which were created to define responsible business conduct for Indian firms.

With this backdrop, some of the biggest corporates in India are dedicating more time and taking serious efforts to seek growth not only at the organisational level, but also for the industry and economy to grow.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Neha Phale
Neha Phale, Head of Public Affairs and member of the Flexible Packaging India Leadership Team at Huhtamaki India, is responsible for stakeholder communications and developing partnerships with key stakeholders working towards delivering sustainable packaging solutions and managing public affairs issues. Neha spearheads the Public Affairs agenda to support the organization's larger purpose and also support the delivery of Huhtamaki’s 2030 Growth Strategy and the positioning of Huhtamaki as a leading manufacturer of sustainable packaging solutions in India.

Neha has over 15 years of experience in communications and public affairs. She joins us from Welspun India Limited where she was responsible for shaping the company’s overall communication strategy as well as creating and managing relationships between internal and external stakeholders. Prior to this, Neha held senior communications and public affairs roles at Huntsman International and Dow Chemical.

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