‘Empowering Decisions for a Sustainable Future’ the main topic

How can the rebuild after the COVID-19 pandemic be approached in a way that alleviates the growing economic, societal and environmental pressures in South Asian countries?

Seeking solutions in support of this aim is a key focus of the GRI South Asia Virtual Regional Summit, which starts on July 22. This free events series – with nine online sessions over one week – includes a diverse programme under the theme ‘Empowering Decisions For a Sustainable Future.’

The GRI is an international independent standards organization that helps businesses, governments and other organizations understand and communicate their impacts on issues such as climate change, human rights and corruption.

Under increasing pressure from different stakeholder groups – such as governments, consumers and investors – to be more transparent about their environmental, economic and social impacts, many companies publish a sustainability report, also known as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) or environmental, social and governance (ESG) report.

Events include the role of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the economic reboot, and how the transition to circularity can enhance competitiveness. Issues crucial to the region, such as promoting sustainable practices by SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and addressing the challenges facing the textile sector, will also be explored.

Prominent speakers from the worlds of business, policy and civil society will participate (including those quoted below). Importantly, the Summit seeks to bridge the generational divide by giving millennials a platform to contribute to the debate. It will conclude with the agreement of a charter of action, setting out joint commitments reached during the Summit.

Aditi Haldar, Director of GRI’s South Asia Regional Hub, said: “Home to one-fifth of the world’s population, South Asia has a key role in the global realization of the SDGs. Driven by industry and economic growth, it is crucial that the region brings businesses on board the sustainable development agenda. This summit can serve as a launch pad for action by the South Asia community to build back better.

As countries respond to the pandemic, we need governments to show inclusive leadership that considers the needs of all members of society and delivers a sustainable recovery.”

Girish Ramachandran, President of Tata Consultancy Services Asia Pacific, and a member of the GRI Board, said: “This extraordinary human and economic crisis offers a unique opportunity to accelerate transformation towards a more sustainable, digitized and transparent new era of prosperity. We have the opportunity to reboot with sustainability considerations. I look forward to sharing my outlook at the GRI South Asia Summit.”

Anirban Ghosh, Chief Sustainability Officer, Mahindra Group, said: “We must attempt a reset rather than a restart as we recover from the pandemic. The reset should make us operate within planetary boundaries when going about our lives. ‘Alternativism’ is an approach that will help identify solutions for a better, more humane world that has net zero emissions.”

Rezwan Siddiqui, Environmental Management Specialist, Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research, BRAC University (Bangladesh), said: “The ‘build back better’ initiative of the post-COVID era will be incomplete and futile without incorporating the skills and vision of millennials. It is millennials who will take the lead in the rebuilding process, at both micro and macro levels globally.

Moreover, if we look at the structure of South Asian society, there is no doubt that the greatest burden of supporting and rebuilding is borne by millennials.”

 

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