Which are the main pillars of your CSR and Sustainability strategy?
As a group, we believe that Vedanta’s role is to create value for all our stakeholders. A shared destiny approach in our businesses will benefit the community and boost economic prosperity. Only by working in partnership with our communities will our business grow along with our shared financial, economic and social value and that will help us maintain our ‘License to operate’.
Integral to our core business strategy are Vedanta’s Core Values of trust, entrepreneurship, innovation, excellence, integrity, respect and care. Whatever the jurisdiction, we have our sustainable development model which comprises of four pillars; Responsible Stewardship, Building Strong Relationships, Adding & Sharing Value and Strategic Communications.
We use a Sustainability Framework which is aligned to international standards like IFC, ICMM and OECD guidelines through which we advance both our business outcomes and those of the communities and environment that surround us. We feel that through the implementation of the Framework, we can offer significant benefits beyond our operations.
What have been some of the greatest challenges in realizing your CSR and Sustainability goals in the past year, and how has your company overcome them?
Despite the volatile commodity market we have continued to focus on enhancing our sustainability performance over the last year. For Vedanta, the term ‘community investment’ is focused towards building interdependence and empowerment instead of dependence and philanthropy. The leadership team at Vedanta adds rigour to the process by encouraging young talents to think out of the box and leverage modern technology. We have now entered a performance-driven phase of our sustainability strategy, having put tried and tested systems into action in recent years. The significant improvements to our safety performance are testament to this.
Vedanta believes in the right of the community to free, prior and informed consent. Transparent communication with civil society is essential for the company, to be enlightened on the views about the company’s business operations and community expectations. We completed our most comprehensive, structured and collaborative community needs assessment exercise in India, reaching every village in the vicinity of our operations. The main concerns heard were about improving livelihoods (either in terms of employment or supplier opportunities with Vedanta) and the environment (primarily water and soil quality).
We have held meetings with the NGOs, to gain their view to the approach of our on-ground activities. We encourage stakeholder input, including from the UN, governmental and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and you will see outcomes of these partnerships. It also underlines our intention, going forward, to deepen our positive socio-economic impact, by partnering with like-minded businesses and organisations.
Keeping in mind the targets set in the Paris accord what do you see on the horizon for corporate sustainability initiatives? How can companies and government work together to achieve sustainability and CSR goals?
The Paris COP 21 was a historic event, and India played a major role in shaping the negotiations, with the government committed to an ambitious target of reducing carbon emissions relative to its GDP by 33% to 35% from 2005 levels by 2030.
As the global economy evolves to a low carbon model, specifically in India and other developing nations where we are operating, investment in clean technology is predicted to grow dramatically. As the global economy evolves to a low carbon model, investors will look more closely at climate-related risk and opportunity. We recognize that India, which is still in a developing stage and has a number of important priorities such as poverty alleviation, proper electrification and sanitation; all which need to be tackled while undertaking its energy transformation, so the government needs to set clear targets and road map in consultation with businesses.
What are your goals for 2016 and your priorities for the year?
Public expectations of big business have never been greater, and we are increasingly seeing companies held accountable for irresponsible and opaque practices around the world. As the mining sector plays a crucial role in fostering sustainable development in remote areas lacking basic facilities, our role is to harness the opportunities of global economic, social and environmental mega trends while mitigating negative impacts.
We are focusing on improving performance against our sustainability metrics, as well as managing community expectations as we continue to contribute towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Vedanta has a comprehensive, robust and successful sustainable development story to tell, and we intend to build more high-level partnerships and collaborative industry memberships to share our experiences.
In conversation with Ms. Roma Balwani, Sustainability, CSR and Communications at Vedanta Resources plc. (Original Post)