Clearly Define the Roles and Responsibilities Within Each Multi-Stakeholder Group

Which are the main pillars of your CSR and Sustainability strategy?

Nestlé believes that for business to prosper over the long term society must also benefit sustainably. We have been in India for over 100 years and are committed to operating responsibly and creating sustainable value for society. Our approach to business is Creating Shared Value and this is firmly embedded in all parts of the business. Our focus in the community is on issues that are critical for society and where business has the capability to make a sustainable difference. These include Nutrition, Water and Rural Development and Environmental Sustainability.

This is significant, especially since a large part of India’s population is affected by the double burden of malnutrition, and water scarcity. Water scarcity is not only exacerbating the impact on availability of drinking water, but also making agriculture vulnerable and threatening food security.

What have been some of the greatest challenges in realising your CSR and Sustainability goals in the past year and how has your company overcome them?

CSR and Sustainability are typically long term objectives and measuring the short term impact can be an immense challenge, especially since much of the work falls outside our direct control. The issues involved such as obesity, responsible sourcing, water usage are complex and they call for joint action to deliver sustainable results. We are therefore engaged in collective activities with partners and like-minded stakeholders at a global and a local level. These include multi-lateral agencies, international organisations, governments, academia and NGOs and industry. Our involvement helps us to listen and learn from different opinions, share experiences and contribute positively to the implementation of best practices.

Nestlé’s emphasis on responsible sourcing is an investment for a sustainable future and places shared responsibility on all parties in the supply chain. We conduct rigorous audits for raw materials and our teams are working with suppliers across the supply chain, encouraging them to adopt internationally recognised ethical and sustainable agricultural practices.

We have been working with farmers for many years and during 2015 we touched the lives of over 200,000 farmers directly and indirectly. Working at the grass root level, our farm economists and veterinarians are helping improve productivity and quality, while also helping to convert small scale farmers into skilled farmers though our training and capacity building programmes, especially with milk, coffee and chicory farmers, among others.

Within our operations we are constantly investing in state-of-the -art technology and monitoring processes to reduce water consumption per tonne of production, and amongst others have invested in technology to capture the water condensate from milk in the manufacturing process for reuse. These and other efforts are ensuring our factories meet ambitious targets for reuse of water and zero discharge. Our greatest challenge to reducing water consumption lies in the complex agricultural supply chains and we are continuing to engage with milk, coffee and rice farmers to enable them to decrease their water consumption while improving productivity.

We are increasing the reach of our non-branded programmes for nutrition education, improving operational efficiencies in the use of non-renewable resources, while driving thought leadership in water availability and usage.

Most of our CSR projects are conducted in partnership with implementing agencies and our biggest challenge remains in identifying the right fit and scalability of our projects. We work to overcome these by thorough due diligence and starting with pilot projects which when exhibit measurable results, are scaled up across geographies. To make each partnership or collective action effective, a key challenge is to clearly define the roles and responsibilities within each multi-stakeholder group. We believe long-term relationships also play an important role in delivering successful outcomes, as they help to build the trust that is necessary to inspire and deliver results.

What are your goals for 2016 and your priorities for the year?

Our work on Nutrition, Water, Rural Development and Environmental Sustainability is an ongoing and long term commitment. These remain priorities for 2016 as well. Nestlé India will sustain and consolidate ongoing initiatives to continue increasing the reach in water and rural development. We will also continue to focus on nutrition education where the goal is to increase reach almost 100%.

In conversation with Mr. Sanjay Khajuria is Senior Vice President – Corporate Affairs at Nestle India. (Original Post)