Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 goals established by the United Nations to achieve sustainable development across the world by 2030. SDG 9 aims to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation. India, being a rapidly developing country, needs to focus on this goal to ensure sustainable growth in the long run. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and corporate philanthropy can play a significant role in achieving SDG 9 by complementing the efforts of the government and contributing to the social and economic development of the country.
Investment in renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure
India’s economic growth has been rapid in recent years, and it is projected to continue at a steady pace. However, this growth has come at a cost to the environment, as the country has relied heavily on non-renewable sources of energy such as coal and oil. These sources of energy not only contribute significantly to air pollution but also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, which are major drivers of climate change.
To tackle these issues, CSR initiatives can play a crucial role in promoting renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. This can be achieved by investing in renewable energy projects, promoting research and development in clean energy technologies, and supporting policy reforms that incentivise the adoption of renewable energy.
One such example of a corporation that is investing heavily in renewable energy is Tata Power. The company has set an ambitious target of generating 30-40% of its total energy output from renewable sources by 2025. To achieve this, Tata Power has been investing in solar and wind power projects across India. The company has also partnered with government agencies and other corporations to promote renewable energy adoption in the country.
Corporate philanthropy can also help in building sustainable infrastructure that reduces the carbon footprint of the country. One of the most significant contributors to carbon emissions is transportation. By supporting the development of public transport systems, corporations can help reduce carbon emissions significantly. Similarly, green buildings can significantly reduce the energy consumption of buildings, which account for a significant portion of energy consumption in the country.
Godrej Industries is one such corporation that has adopted a sustainability framework that focuses on reducing its carbon footprint, promoting renewable energy, and adopting sustainable business practices. The company has implemented several initiatives, such as promoting the use of electric vehicles for its employees, using renewable energy sources for its manufacturing processes, and adopting sustainable packaging practices.
Promotion of local industries and technology transfer
SDG 9 aims to promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, which is essential for creating jobs, boosting economic growth, and reducing poverty. In India, promoting local industries and transferring technology to these industries is critical for achieving this goal. However, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) often face significant challenges such as limited access to funding, lack of technological know-how, and inadequate training, which hinder their growth and competitiveness.
CSR initiatives can play a crucial role in promoting SMEs by providing them with the necessary funding, training, and technological know-how. This can be achieved by partnering with non-profit organisations and government agencies to identify and support SMEs that have the potential for growth and innovation. Additionally, corporations can also promote inclusive supply chains by sourcing raw materials from local farmers and small businesses, thereby contributing to the development of local communities and promoting sustainable growth.
One such example of a corporation that has been promoting local industries and inclusive supply chains is Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL). The company has been sourcing raw materials such as tea, coffee, and spices from small farmers in India, thereby promoting local agriculture and contributing to the development of rural communities. Additionally, HUL has been providing training and support to these farmers to improve their farming practices and increase their yield, which has led to a significant improvement in their livelihoods.
Corporate philanthropy can also play a crucial role in transferring technology to SMEs by collaborating with research institutions and universities. This can be achieved by providing funding for research in emerging technologies, promoting innovation, and supporting start-ups and SMEs in these sectors. By doing so, corporations can help SMEs to overcome the technological barriers that hinder their growth and competitiveness.
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is an example of a corporation that has been promoting research in emerging technologies and supporting start-ups and SMEs in these sectors. TCS has been collaborating with Indian universities to promote research in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. Additionally, TCS has been providing funding and technological support to start-ups and SMEs in these sectors, thereby contributing to the growth of the Indian technology industry.
Promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship
The promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship is crucial for achieving sustainable development, especially in developing countries like India. SDG 9 recognises the need to foster innovation and promote entrepreneurship as key drivers of economic growth and job creation. This is particularly relevant for India, which is home to a vast pool of young and talented entrepreneurs with innovative ideas.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can play a critical role in promoting innovation and entrepreneurship by providing support to start-ups and entrepreneurs. CSR initiatives can provide seed funding, mentorship, and networking opportunities to start-ups, which can help them grow and thrive. These initiatives can also help entrepreneurs overcome some of the challenges they face in the early stages of their businesses.
Corporate philanthropy can also play a crucial role in promoting innovation by funding research and development in emerging technologies. This funding can help research institutions and universities develop new technologies that can drive innovation and create new opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Marico Innovation Foundation is a notable example of how CSR can promote innovation and entrepreneurship. The foundation, established by Marico, a leading FMCG company in India, provides seed funding and mentorship to start-ups in the field of innovation. The foundation also organises networking events and workshops for entrepreneurs to connect with industry experts and investors. These initiatives help entrepreneurs overcome the challenges of the early stages of their businesses and create an environment that fosters innovation.
Similarly, Mahindra & Mahindra, a leading automobile company in India, has established Mahindra Innovation Academy, which provides training and support to entrepreneurs in emerging sectors such as electric mobility and clean energy. The academy offers courses on various aspects of entrepreneurship, such as business strategy, product design, and financial planning. It also provides access to funding, mentorship, and networking opportunities, which can help entrepreneurs grow their businesses and take their innovations to market.
Another example is the ITC e-Choupal initiative, which is a CSR initiative of ITC Limited, a leading Indian conglomerate. The initiative uses technology to connect farmers with buyers, providing them with market access and real-time information on prices and demand. This initiative has helped farmers improve their incomes and livelihoods while also promoting innovation in the agricultural sector.
In conclusion, achieving SDG 9 is crucial for sustainable development in India, and CSR and corporate philanthropy can play a significant role in achieving this goal. By investing CSR funds in the aforementioned manner, India Inc. can play an inspirational role in complementing the efforts of the Government of India for the achievement of SDG 9.