Sustainable Development Goal 15 (SDG 15) focuses on preserving and restoring terrestrial ecosystems and ensuring their sustainable use. The goal aims to halt biodiversity loss, protect endangered species, and promote sustainable forest management, among other things. In India, SDG 15 is particularly relevant, given the country’s rich biodiversity and the dependence of millions of people on its natural resources. Achieving SDG 15 is a critical step towards creating a sustainable future for India and the world.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and corporate philanthropy can play a significant role in achieving SDG 15. Companies have a responsibility to contribute to sustainable development, and their resources and expertise can be harnessed to support the goal.
Supporting Biodiversity Conservation
India is home to several unique and endangered species of flora and fauna, making it one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. However, habitat destruction, poaching, and other human activities have put many of these species at risk. Companies can support biodiversity conservation by investing in conservation programs, supporting research, and promoting sustainable tourism. For example, the Tata Chemicals Society for Rural Development (TCSRD) has implemented a biodiversity conservation program in Gujarat, which aims to protect the Great Indian Bustard, an endangered bird species. The program involves habitat restoration, community awareness, and monitoring of the bird’s population.
Promoting Sustainable Agriculture
Agriculture is a significant contributor to India’s economy, and millions of people depend on it for their livelihoods. However, conventional agricultural practices can harm the environment and lead to soil degradation, water depletion, and biodiversity loss. CSR and corporate philanthropy can support sustainable agriculture by investing in research and development of sustainable farming practices, promoting organic farming, and providing training and resources to farmers. For example, the Mahindra group has launched the ‘Prerna’ program, which provides training and resources to farmers in sustainable agriculture practices, including agroforestry, water conservation, and soil health management.
Supporting Sustainable Forest Management
Forests are a vital component of India’s natural resources, providing timber, non-timber forest products, and ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, water regulation, and biodiversity conservation. However, deforestation, illegal logging, and forest degradation pose significant threats to India’s forests. Companies can support sustainable forest management by investing in forest restoration and conservation programs, promoting responsible forestry practices, and supporting forest-dependent communities. For example, the ITC paperboards and specialty papers division has implemented a sustainable forestry program in the state of Uttarakhand, which involves afforestation, soil conservation, and community participation.
Supporting Waste Management
India generates a vast amount of waste every day, and improper waste management poses a significant threat to the environment and human health. CSR and corporate philanthropy can support waste management initiatives by investing in research and development of sustainable waste management practices, promoting waste reduction and recycling, and supporting community-based waste management programs. For example, the Tata group has launched the ‘Mission Garima’ program, which aims to improve waste management in 24 cities across India by providing infrastructure and training to waste pickers and promoting segregation at source.
Supporting Climate Action
Climate change is one of the most significant challenges facing the world today, and India is particularly vulnerable to its impacts. Companies can support climate action by investing in renewable energy, promoting energy efficiency, and reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. For example, Infosys has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2022 and has invested in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.
Supporting Community Engagement
Communities play a crucial role in the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources. Companies can support community engagement by investing in community development programs, promoting local ownership of natural resources, and involving communities in decision-making processes. For example, the Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL) has implemented a community-based natural resource management program in Rajasthan, which involves community-led planning and implementation of natural resource management activities, including afforestation, water harvesting, and livestock management.
Supporting Environmental Education
Environmental education is essential for creating awareness and building capacity for sustainable development. Companies can support environmental education by investing in educational programs, promoting environmental awareness among employees, and supporting community-based education initiatives. For example, the Coca-Cola India Foundation has implemented an environmental education program in several states across India, which involves training teachers and students on environmental issues and promoting environmental stewardship.
Achieving SDG 15 is critical for creating a sustainable future for India and the world. CSR and corporate philanthropy can play a significant role in supporting the goal by investing in biodiversity conservation, promoting sustainable agriculture and forestry, supporting waste management and climate action, engaging with communities, and promoting environmental education. By aligning their business operations with sustainable development, companies can create shared value for themselves and society, contributing to a sustainable future for all.