It may be slow, but there seems to be a definite move from governments and corporations alike towards more responsible and transparent ways of working. As we had discussed at Design Public III earlier this year, this past year was rife with crises of trust in our society and economy, directed towards governments and corporations alike, due to public dissatisfaction with their earlier ways of functioning. Moreover, the many economic, ecological and social crises of various sorts that we’ve seen the world over these past few years seems to have led to a reorientation of sorts in terms of what is now expected of both our private and public sectors.
Naturally, one of the most prominent of these new expectations is a demand for corporations to function more sustainably, to use less natural resources and to have a lighter impact on the environment. As we had written about in a recent post, this has been reflected in the Ministry of Power and the Bureau of Energy Efficiency‘s (BEE) introduction of new energy saving guidelines for home appliances.
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs will also soon be implementing a sustainability reporting framework for companies, to ensure that they follow certain parameters while meeting environmental challenges. In a statement to the Press, Corporate Affairs Minister Veerappa Moily said,
We are coming out with a sustainability reporting framework. Any corporate body while they perform, while they do corporate social responsibility, they should also ensure that certain parameters (are met)… The world cannot afford to continue to consume at a rapid pace even as our natural resources become scarce. We need radical and innovative solutions deployed on a mass scale. It must be remembered that tomorrow’s challenges cannot be solved with yesterday’s thinking.
Leading up to the implementation of this new reporting framework, market regulator Sebi asked all listed companies to submit an annual ‘business responsibility report’ earlier this month. The report will require them to disclose their compliance to various environmental, social and governance regulations. Moreover, listed companies have also been asked to disclose any strategies or initiatives to address global environment issues such as climate change, and details about any programs on clean technology, energy efficiency and renewable energy.
This seems, to me, to be a necessary step towards ensuring some basic acknowledgement of our impact on the environment, especially in a place like India where loosely followed regulations have always allowed companies to disregard environmental norms, leading to major health and environmental consequences. While the actual reporting framework will only be revealed in a month or two, it will be interesting to see whether this new requirement will lead to new kinds of companies as well, that take the model of sustainability and light environmental impact to an even greater level, along the lines of ‘green’ companies like IBM or Patagonia.