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A Circular Approach towards the Sustainable Development Goals

Centre for Responsible Business (CRB) is a think tank focused on helping businesses integrate sustainability into their core functions. One of the ways in which we engage businesses is through organizing  multi-stakeholder dialogues such as our annual flagpship Conference “India & Sustainability Standards”. We work across different sectors namely Apparel and textiles, Agro-based industries, ICT and Electronics, Mining and Minerals. Most of our work on promoting business sustainability may be catergorized under the following themes such as Circular Economy, Business and Human Rights, Private Sector and SDGs, Voluntary Sustainability Standards and MSMEs and Sustainability. 

At CRB we adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as one of the conceptual frameworks for it’s work on sustainability. In the past few decades, Circular Economy has emerged as an important lever to support sustainable development. As defined by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, circular economy serves as a regenerative economic system which is powered by renewable energy, where the concept of “waste” is designed out, and materials and energy circulate in closed loops for long periods of time. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Redesign, Repair, Refurbish and Remanufacture (known as the 7 Rs’)are the basic tenets of circular economy. Circular economy helps us to look at entire production and consumption value chains from a macro, or systems perspective, and design ways to make them sustainable. Given its focus on resource efficiency, systems and design thinking, the concept of circular economy is especially useful towards advancement on SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. Designing products and services in a way that the by-products and end-of-life products (post-consumer goods) can be disassembled and/or recycled/reused, will make sure that the stress on earth’s limited resources is reduced. 

Through it’s project on Promoting Responsible Value Chains in India for an Effective Contribution of the Private Sector to the SDGs (PROGRESS) ,CRB is currently working with the textile and apparel industry to create strategies to enable a transition to a circular economy. Due to high demand for fashion goods and their rapid obsolescence, millions of tonnes of apparel-related waste end up in landfills every year. After oil and gas, the textile and apparel sectors are considered as the second most polluting industry globally. Cotton, the primary raw material for textiles, requires enormous amounts of fertilizers, water and pesticides, while the manufacturing process is chemical-intensive. Man-made fibres like polyester are created from by-products of the petrochemical industry, which has a large footprint; polyester also leads to microplastics pollution of soil and water bodies.

CRB’s initiative focuses on interactions within global value chains of the textile industry, i.e. how global fashion brands like H&M, C&A, Marks and Spencer, etc. interact with their suppliers, manufacturers and other associates on sustainability issues. As consumers become more aware about the environmental footprint and social impacts of their buying choices, international brands are striving towards making their businesses circular. CRB believes that this can be a huge economic opportunity for Indian garment manufacturers and raw material producers, who can adopt circular economy and fulfil the demand criteria of brands and consumers around the world. This, is turn, will contribute to SDG 12 in India.

But if circular economy or any other sustainability paradigm is to succeed, the consumers, especially the youth must start making conscious lifestyle choices and act as change agents. Once they start demanding sustainable products and services, businesses and governments will align their goals to the SDGs.

by
Ramanuj Mitra, Programme Officer, CRB 

Centre for Responsible Business (CRB) – http://c4rb.org/

India Sustainability Standards – http://www.sustainabilitystandards.in/

 United Nation Sustainable Development Goals – https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/

 Ellen Macarthur Foundation – https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-economy/concept

 Golden Plains Shire 7R’s-  https://www.goldenplains.vic.gov.au/residents/my-home/recycling-and-rubbish/7-rs-recycling

 PROGRESS overview- http://c4rb.org/progress

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Sustainable Palm Oil Coalition for India launched to drive India’s sustainable palm oil market

RSPO Blog 1

New Delhi, India: As the largest consumer and importer of palm oil, globally, India has the potential to play a significant role in driving sustainable practices in the palm oil sector. In order to address this, Sustainable Palm Oil Coalition for India (India-SPOC) was recently launched as a collaborative effort between Centre for Responsible Business (CRB), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) – India, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and Rainforest Alliance (RA) at a global convention on sustainable trade and standards in New Delhi. 

In recent years, palm oil has become one of the most widely used vegetable oils in the food and FMCG industry, given its productivity and versatility in use. However, the factors that have made palm oil a success have also brought with it well-documented environmental and social challenges. Most prominent among these are links to deforestation, labour rights, and damaging effects on nature and the environment, particularly when grown unsustainably. India-SPOC will be working primarily with companies in India to facilitate collaboration within the industry and help improve sustainability performance across their palm oil supply chain. The coalition will work towards addressing barriers and challenges to sustainable palm oil by taking into consideration the unique characteristics of the palm oil sector in India, focusing on aspects including policy, best practices for production, trade linkages, and consumer sensitisation to sustainability.

The collaborative platform will consist of associations, civil society organisations, consumer goods manufacturers, food-service retailers, retailers, banks and financial institutions, and palm oil traders and producers committed to increasing the use of sustainable palm oil and its derivatives in the Indian market. India-SPOC has opened its request for stakeholder participation with CRB playing the role of the Secretariat for the coalition.

Centre for Responsible Business

“The formation of India-SPOC is a timely and positive development in India and for the Asian region. I believe India-SPOC, to a great extent, will address the concerns and doubts of scholars and critics who argue that the increase in South-South trade in food, feed and fibre, for which India is a leading actor for both imports and exports, may undermine sustainability issues. I am sure India-SPOC will develop appropriate strategies, plans and activities for proactive engagement with palm oil producers, processors, users and other stakeholders in the value chain to address and arrest the challenges of deforestation, biodiversity loss, human and labour rights in palm oil industry in India and the region. Many congratulations and my best wishes to the leaders at Rainforest Alliance, RSPO, WWF and CRB for initiating and leading this initiative.”

  • Dr. Bimal Arora, Honorary Chairperson, Centre for Responsible Business and Faculty at Aston Business School, United Kingdom

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) – India

“As the world’s largest consumer of palm oil, India could play a pivotal role in promoting the sustainable production of palm oil. India-SPOC provides an opportunity for the Indian palm oil industry to positively influence the domestic demand for sustainable palm oil.”  

  • Mr. Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)

“With approximately 98% of palm oil (crude, refined and processed) consumed in India, coming from imported sources, India-SPOC will bring a much needed dialogue of sustainable palm oil to India. On behalf of RSPO, I congratulate all of India-SPOC’s founding partners and we hope the coalition will play a key role in helping achieve the shared vision of making sustainable palm oil the norm.” 

  • Darrel Webber, Chief Executive Officer

Rainforest Alliance

“The time is right for the Sustainable Palm Oil Coalition. Palm oil is in high demand and provides a livelihood to millions of farmers and workers in the tropics. The negative social and environmental impacts from its production in South east Asia have been well publicised. A commitment from companies in India, the world’s largest importer, to buy palm oil produced without those negative impacts will send a clear message through the supply chain and stimulate further progress in sustainable production practices.” 

  • Mr. Edward Millard, Director

 

About Centre for Responsible Business

The Centre for Responsible Business (CRB) is an independent centre of excellence, working with business and stakeholders to promote responsible business strategies, policies and practices. For more information please visit, http://www.c4rb.org/

About WWF

WWF-India is a leading conservation organisation with a global network active in more than 100 countries dedicated to building a world in which humans live in harmony with nature. For more information please visit, www.wwfindia.org

About RSPO

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed in 2004 with the objective of promoting the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products through credible global standards and engagement of stakeholders. For more information, please visit RSPO’s global website www.rspo.org

About Rainforest Alliance

The Rainforest Alliance is an international nonprofit organisation working to build a future in which nature is protected and biodiversity flourishes, where farmers, workers, and communities prosper, and where sustainable land use and responsible business practices are the norm. For more information please visit, www.rainforest-alliance.org/

RSPO will be the ‘Sustainability Partner’ for the 10th Young India Challenge (YIC) which will be organized Dr. Ambedkar International Centre, New Delhi on 12-13 October 2019. The theme for the event is ‘Sustainable Living’ and the focus is on finding solutions for SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production and SDG 13: Climate Action. You can apply for the 10th YIC here: https://youngindiachallenge.com/

 

For further information, kindly contact:info@humancircle.in

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Moving Towards Deforestation-Free Supply Chains in India

RSPO Blog 3

ISEAL Alliance, in partnership with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), WWF-India and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), co-organised a strategic dialogue and workshop last month, which brought together relevant stakeholders for an in-depth discussion on the challenges and opportunities of addressing deforestation along the supply chains in India.

Hosted at Hindustan Unilever’s Mumbai headquarters, the discussions centred around the palm oil, rubber, wood and pulp sectors, as well as other commodities linked to deforestation, and looked at the development of clear strategies that can be used when dealing with business stakeholders in the country. The output from the roundtable discussion will be analysed by the organisers and attendees. It will then be used to influence business policies that encourage sustainable sourcing across supply chains and minimise carbon footprint.

CEO of the Centre for Responsible Business (CRB), Rijit Sengupta, said There is a need for creating market demand for deforestation-free (sustainable) products by working with businesses (users) and consumers. Together with partners like RSPO, the Centre for Responsible Business has been strategising ways to achieve this in India,” he said.

Bhawna Yadav, Reckitt Benckiser’s Regional Social and Human Rights Manager for South Asia and ASEAN added, “Palm oil is an important commodity, but one that needs careful management to enable a sustainable future for the communities and ecosystems it touches. Businesses can collaborate to support this goal, building pragmatic effective systems that, together with governments, civil society and communities, can be implemented at scale.” 

The meeting saw encouraging participation from some of the largest brands and financial institutions operating in India. Most of the members of the ‘Sustainable Palm Oil Coalition for India’ (I-SPOC) joined the workshop along with other stakeholders, led by representatives from Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), CRB, Reckitt Benckiser, L’Oreal, HSBC, Rabobank, ITC, JK Paper and several others.

RSPO will be the ‘Sustainability Partner’ for the 10th Young India Challenge (YIC) which will be organized Dr. Ambedkar International Centre, New Delhi on 12-13 October 2019. The theme for the event is ‘Sustainable Living’ and the focus is on finding solutions for SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production and SDG 13: Climate Action. You can apply for the 10th YIC here: https://youngindiachallenge.com/

 

For further information, kindly contact:info@humancircle.in