UKIBC brings together businesses, UN, UK government and partners on critical SDG matters in Delhi

By Kealan Finnegan

UKIBC launched the third edition of our Socio-Economic Impact Casebook highlighting the role of business in driving a sustainable UK-India partnership

As a part of our continued commitment to advance bilateral collaboration and mutual prosperity between the UK and India, UK India Business Council hosted a day-long Sustainability Conference and evening reception on the ‘Socio-Economic Impact’ of UK businesses in India in New Delhi. UKIBC’s socio-economic impact campaign is a project to demonstrate how British businesses and universities are driving inclusive growth in India and globally, with a view to expanding partnerships on both sides.

At the reception, UKIBC Group CEO, Richard McCallum, and UK Deputy Trade Commissioner for South Asia, Anna Shotbolt, were joined by UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Dennis Curry, UK lead negotiator on the UK-India FTA, Harjinder Kang, and Diageo Vice President Corporate Affairs, Sanjeev Vijh. The discussions focused on the role that businesses play in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, highlighting the importance of business collaboration in the UK-India bilateral corridor.

There, the UKIBC launched our third ‘Socio-Economic Impact casebook’ featuring a selection of case studies of UK businesses contributing to SDG fulfilment in India. The casebook shows how:

  • Diageo has replenished 409,246 cubic metres of water in India since 2015, positively impacting 90,000 lives, as well as training more than 1,200 young people to secure jobs in the food and beverage sector, with 50% being women and people with special abilities.
  • Thomas Lloyd’s investment in SolarArise, a leading renewable energy developer, has developed an operational capacity of 234 MWp of solar energy in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Telangana.
  • Pernod Ricard is working to eliminate 7,310 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year, save 250,000 trees annually, and create water positivity, including having built more than 2022 water-saving structures since 2019.
  • BSI is helping businesses like Tata Group to build a sustainable future through its standard assurance, regulatory training, and consulting.
  • Beam Suntory has built seven ultrafiltration systems for schools in Kolkata, benefitting more than 5,000 students, and a water unit supplying clean drinking water to 400 families in Hyderabad, among other investments as part of the company’s ‘nature positive’ approach.

Richard McCallum, Group CEO, UKIBC said: “We need new models for growth. Models which create commercial value and at the same time put back into society and the environment more than they take out. UKIBC’s Socio-Economic Impact casebook showcases some inspiring examples by British firms in India. This year we also convened our first ever sustainability conference, bringing together government, industry and the UNDP, to share these concepts and stimulate new ideas for inclusive growth – which is central to the flourishing UK-India relationship.”

With more than 600 UK companies working in India, and the shared understanding that business has a societal role to play, investors are contributing to advancements in education, healthcare, gender equality, and energy, as well as creating jobs and economic growth.

At the sustainability conference, held earlier on Thursday, Kate Thornley – Deputy Director India Trade Negotiations, Department for Business and Trade, UK Government emphasised the positive implications of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and the UK on the industry and cross border trade movements. Highlighting the need for sustainable economic growth, she said, “Businesses and investors are increasingly conscientious of the part they play towards the achievement of sustainable development goals. There is definitely a need for accelerated public and private partnerships, and technology has a critical role to play in creating a cleaner, greener, and inclusive society.”

The conference saw participation from leading corporations and businesses including Arup, De La Rue, Standard Chartered Bank, HSBC India, and Rolls Royce, as well as UNDP. The event saw extensive discussions on transitioning to greener growth, enablers for sustainable development, and technology and innovation where the speakers underpinned the role of industry, multi-stakeholder partnership and innovative solutions that are contributing to the sustainability agenda and socio-economic development. Key themes included financing structures that incentivise greening of business operations, making EV and mobility future ready, standards for sustainability, electric flights, among others. Business leaders including Yashika Singh, Pernod Ricard India; Nandita Saghal-Tully, ThomasLloyd Group; and Raghavan Nair Reghu Kumar, British Standards Institution highlighted how investment in technology, capability building, data traceability, finance and evaluation of green risk are going to play an important role in ensuring sustainable growth.

Swetha Kolluri – Head of Experimentation, Accelerator Lab, UNDP India further added: “Digital technology has already played a transformative role in accelerating development in India particularly through Digital Public Infrastructure that has benefitted millions throughout the country. There is a need for policy framework and enablers to promote digital inclusion and unlock the full potential of digital transformation across the country for achieving SDGs.”

The UKIBC reiterates our continued commitment to work with its partners across government, along with our members and clients to facilitate collaboration between government, business and civil society to support sustainable development in the UK and India and help to ensure growth and prosperity in both countries.


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