AMCHAM’s Western Region, with knowledge partner KPMG in India, organized a CEO session on ‘ESG: Climate Change, the Business Case for Sustainability’ on February 28th in Mumbai. Through her opening remarks Ms. Iram Siddique, Regional Director – Western Region, AMCHAM welcomed participants and introduced the session speaker, Mr. Chandrakant Nayak, CEO & Country Head, Dow Chemicals. In an interactive dialogue, Mr. Chandrakant Nayak, along with Mr. Saurabh Kamdar, Partner in ESG Practice and Lead Sustainable Finance, KPMG in India, shared their expert insights. Mr. Nayak shared his experience in adopting ESG practices and making business sustainable. He laid emphasis on how Dow Chemicals has adopted the sustainability pathway since 1995 and has revised and reset their sustainability goals and targets every decade. The session focussed on the evolving landscape of ESG, the push from policy makers, capital allocators and regulators to adopt sustainable approach in practice and reporting.
It was pointed out by participants that capital allocators are now hiring employees who can assess companies not only on their financial but also their sustainability performance. With its growing relevance, investment decisions are also now made on the sustainability performance before investment, and continued investment follows through if the investee company commits to, for example, reduce their GHG emission for the first three years of investment. It was also felt that greenwashing was a significant challenge in business, hence the role of sustainable audits and assurances becomes critical to validate and verify the non-financial information. Moreover, the role of accurate information through enhanced technology-based solutions would also be important to lend more credibility to the sector. When companies take more action and adopt sustainable practices, its also necessary for other stakeholders such as consumers, to participate by agreeing to pay a premium for a more sustainable product. If a company uses recyclable plastic in the product wrapper, but the consumer will not pay for a better wrapping, the company would still bear the cost to buyback plastic and send for recycling. The participants also raised their views on the need of the government to provide more incentives to companies to make their products and processes more sustainable, such as tax benefits and incentives capital allocators are now offering companies. For ESG it to be effective it must seep within the fabric of every organization and its necessary to have simplistic targets which can be communicated easily and understood by all. The session concluded with closing remarks and vote of thanks by Mr. Anand Vijay Jha, Managing Director – Government Affairs, Blackstone who thanked AMCHAM and KPMG in India for the insightful discussion. He also thanked participants for making it an engaging interaction.
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