Stakeholders of IICA-GIZ Business Responsibility Initiative commit to taking business responsibility agenda forward

The bilateral project between GIZ and Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) closed after six years on 18th March in Delhi, with a large group of stakeholders reaffirming and highlighting concrete ways in which they plan to take forward the Business Responsibility (BR) agenda building on the foundations laid by the Project.  IICA, the principal think tank for the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and GIZ started the cooperation in 2008, under the name IICA-GIZ Business Responsibility Initiative.

Among the major contributions of the Project are the National Voluntary Guidelines on the Social, Environmental, and Economic Responsibilities of Business (NVGs) released by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (2011), and the corresponding reporting format Business Responsibility Report (BRR) mandated by the Securities Exchange Board of India in 2012. The project also developed standardised Training of Trainer Modules on which the IICA has entered into partnership with 10 premier intermediary institutions that include the national Securities Institute of Management (NISM), industry chambers like the CII and FICCI, stock exchanges (Bombay Stock Exchange), and other training institutions. In order to mainstream the practice of BR, the project adopted a sector approach and facilitated creation of Responsible Pharma and Apparel guidelines. Also, to keep a multi-stakeholder approach on BR as an elemental aspect, the project launched a virtual platform (www.responsiblebusinessindia.com) which offers services like online BRR tool, online trainings, dialogues and discussions to a wide variety of users. The project worked with MSME clusters (in foundry sector) to embed responsible business practices which later developed as a separate EU project for four years.

Through the project, GIZ emerged as an important and credible stakeholder in the field of business responsibility among government, regulators, industry and civil society actors. NVGs and BRR are the starting points in the responsible business agenda, and have put India among a handful of countries where state-led initiatives have put Environment, Social & Governance at the forefront.

Speakers and participants at the closing event included Mr Arun Maira, a thought leader and former member Planning Commission, Dr Bhaskar Chatterjee, Director General, IICA, Dr Corrina Fricke, Minister Counselor, Head of the Economic and Commercial Division, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany. Members of the Project Expert Group and prominent voices from industry, civil society and government bodies reiterated that NVGs and BRR give the blue print on which sustainability can be mainstreamed within businesses. Discussions also pointed that independent analysis of BRRs suggests that better and more disclosures will be required as a means to make BR widely understood and practiced. Civil society members emphasised that social justice and human rights aspects of BR must get all the impetus as may be needed. It was stressed that technology and social media should be leveraged to accelerate the conversation on BR among various actors and networks. The portal created by the project was seen as a good existing platform to join.