Let’s hope it’s more rather than less. Because there’s no exaggerating what’s at stake here, but also because the year 2030 has become a milestone that the world is collectively moving towards, some more enthusiastically and seriously than others but these sentiments hopefully will become more widespread as we inch closer towards that all-important date. There’s a pace that is building up and holding on to it to create our own momentum is the need of the hour – scientists have identified this timeframe as the last chance to prevent catastrophic climate change. Corporations everywhere are proclaiming their 2030 goals and that’s a good thing – signs of businesses aligning their visions, missions, strategies, operations, supply chain and lifecycle management with sustainability goals are here, there and everywhere. That’s nowhere near enough right now, but action on that front will most certainly pick up. 

2021’s World Environment Day – June 5 – has kicked off the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a global mission to revive billions of hectares, from forests to farmlands, from the top of mountains to the depth of the sea. It is a rallying call for the protection and revival of ecosystems all around the world, for the benefit of people and nature. Only with thriving ecosystems can we enhance people’s livelihoods, counteract climate change, and stop the collapse of biodiversity.

The term ‘ecosystem restoration’ is as complicated or simple as you will make of it, but what’s clear is that it will have to be a global undertaking with unflinching commitment from each and every stakeholder, which is each one of us. Because it means repairing billions of hectares of land so that people have access to food, clean water and jobs; it means bringing back plants and animals from the brink of extinction; and it also means that the many small actions that everyone can take every day – growing trees, greening our cities, cleaning up trash alongside rivers and coasts – will have a huge cumulative impact.

Ecosystem restoration, in essence, means that we go from exploiting nature to healing it, which will need us to prevent, halt and reverse the damage that we have caused to the planet’s ecosystems, its forests and wetlands and coral reefs and coasts and what may you. By the way, ecosystems take into account the interaction between living organisms – us human beings, plants, animals – and their physical environment. This includes nature, but also human-made systems such as cities or farms.

A decade of action
The year 2030, which will mark the culmination of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, is significant for another reason as well – we are expected to have met the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by then. These are the 17 ‘global goals’ that have the potential to make it a better world every which way, because if achieved, these will end poverty and hunger, reduce inequalities, and give us a fighting chance at addressing climate change.

With just about a decade left in which to get our act together, this year’s World Environment Day and its theme ‘ecosystem restoration’ is certainly a timely reminder for businesses, governments, civil society and people everywhere to take stock. Especially so because a UN Global Compact report warns that ‘with 10 years to go, the world is not on track to achieve the SDGs. We need a Decade of Action to reverse this predicament.’

With this as the backdrop, Team CB sought out the views of industry leaders on two points:

a) How does 2030 ‘actually’ look like – the optimistic scenario vis-à-vis the pessimist’s scepticism, both being important

b)  Ecosystem restoration

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Gayle Schueller
Sr Vice President & Chief Sustainability Officer, 3M

On 2030
The UN Sustainable Development Goals have been instrumental in creating global alignment on the challenges we face and propelling action by corporations, governments, and civil society. The world has made significant progress towards these 17 goals, but many of their sub-bullets are extremely challenging and may be difficult to achieve by the 2030 deadline. 

I am encouraged by the fact that several recent challenges—from widespread use of electric vehicles and advancing renewable energy to fighting the Covid-19 pandemic—seemed insurmountable until science and emerging technologies created new solutions on relatively short timescales. My personal confidence for achieving the SDGs continues to build and I think we are at a pivotal inflection point due to mounting global awareness, accelerating technology developments, and momentum for change. Regardless of the progress made by the stated deadline, I think the SDGs represent areas where we can—and should—continue to strive for improvement beyond 2030.

On ecosystem restoration
At 3M, the success of our business is inextricably linked with the health of our planet. We support the UN’s vision of recovering vital ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed, and conserving those that are still intact. Although our link to ecosystem restoration may not appear as direct as it is for entities in the agricultural or food and beverage industries, as a global manufacturer with a diverse product portfolio, we know that we impact the environment in many ways. For example, because we incorporate pulp and paper into many 3M products and packaging materials, we have been working to map our supply chain from the mills to the source of harvest since 2015. We also partner with NGOs such as the Earthworm Foundation – a global non-profit with expertise in implementing responsible sourcing policies and improving forest-management practices across global supply chains – to support us through policy implementation. 

Another way 3M is working to drive positive impact is by increasing the use of recycled and plant-based content when a product’s life-cycle analysis indicates this is appropriate, which also works to build greater market demand for these materials. These efforts are bolstered by the April announcement that 3M will reduce dependence on virgin fossil-based plastic by 125M pounds (nearly 56,700 metric tons) by the end of 2025.

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Sudhindra Holla
Director, Axis Communications, India & SAARC

On 2030
Contributing to the UN’s Agenda 2030 and upholding the 17 goals deeply resonate with our culture at Axis Communications. We have adopted various measures to ensure that all our products, practices and processes contribute to a safer and smarter world. One way we are trying to give back to the ecosystem is to phase out PVC and hazardous substances from our manufacturing processes. We are also making products that are 95%–97% recyclable and with 50% less energy consumption. Our conscious effort has been to make our camera designs greener and ecofriendly over the years. It’s been our mantra to instil a sense of responsibility amongst our suppliers to reduce environmental impact, energy and water consumption, emissions and waste. We are optimistic about achieving our sustainable development goals by 2030 in an approach that encompasses people, partners and end-users.

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Ketan Kulkarni
CMO & Head – Business Development, Blue Dart

On 2030
Blue Dart’s sustainability roadmap is aligned with the SDGs in that it calls for clean operations for climate protection, a great company to work at, and building a highly trusted company. We have launched many initiatives to aid the world in its battle against climate change and global warming. We aim to operate all our facilities at net zero carbon by 2025, drive increased efficiency and use cleaner fuels for our fleet of 6 Boeing 757-200 aircraft, support customers with sustainable and optimised packaging solutions, and design greener products and services through comprehensive solutions. 

At Blue Dart, we are working towards achieving zero carbon emissions by 2050 under DPDHL Goal ‘Mission 2050’. The goal is to limit global warming to less than 2 ºC and drive the business towards zero emissions logistics, thus setting the standard for the future of the logistics sector. Under the Mission 2050 initiative, for over four years Blue Dart has contributed to over 10% of DPDHL Group’s global target of planting 1 million trees every year. In addition to this, in December 2011, Blue Dart announced India’s first end-to-end GoGreen Carbon Neutral Services across international and domestic markets. This service has been subscribed to by over 2,871 environmentally responsible customers till 2020.

Under the credo ‘Connecting People, Improving Lives’, Blue Dart also undertakes GoGreen initiatives like usage of LED lamps in offices, having lights off for an hour every last Saturday of the month across all offices, installation of water-sensor taps, and route-optimisation techniques.

Staying ahead of the curve, Blue Dart has deployed the Smart Truck technology designed to provide solutions to urban logistics challenges, stopped using goods receipts, and minimised the use of air waybills (AWB). We use bar codes or thermal stickers in the transportation of goods. Based on our electricity consumption during the year, Blue Dart also purchases green electricity through iREC (international Renewable Electricity Certificates).

On ecosystem restoration
The increasing number of forest fires in the Amazon and Uttarakhand, or the recent Tauktae cyclone are alarming signs calling for a desperate need to restore our ecosystem. 

Blue Dart is a purpose-driven organisation and has over the years mapped various ESG (environmental, social and governance) strategies to create value for the triple bottom line – profit, people and planet. With collaborative efforts, efficient risk-mitigation strategies and sustainable use of resources, ecosystem restoration is expected to create tremendous business opportunities complying with ESG parameters.

Since 2017, Blue Dart has been planting 111,000 trees every year. Towards the end of 2021 monsoons, Blue Dart will complete the planting of over 5 lakh trees which will offset approximately 9,100,000 kg of carbon per year, on maturity. This World Environment Day, Blue Dart announced paperless transactions on the new digital portal for all vendor partners. 

Under the Group’s new sustainability roadmap, Blue Dart has made significant investments in developing future-ready technology that can protect the environment and at the same time deliver excellence in a sustainable way.

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Amar Kaul
Chairman & Managing Director
Ingersoll Rand India Limited

On 2030
At Ingersoll Rand, we are focusing on addressing climate change, assessing climate risk, and determining ways to find solutions as a business. The company’s goals underscore strategic priority to operate sustainably across key areas of the business where we can make a powerful and lasting impact. The commitments further unite our 16,000 employees through a shared sense of responsibility and purpose, bring value to our customers through product innovation and stewardship, and make a positive difference towards protecting our communities and the world.

We prioritise the integration of sustainability principles into every business, including a robust governance model and a focus on fostering social and environmental improvement in our communities and throughout the world.

On ecosystem restoration
We are operating at a time when course-correcting the impact we have on the environment is an imperative and our collective responsibility. At Ingersoll Rand, our pursuit of sustainability continues to be bold and transparent. On a daily basis, Ingersoll Rand employees around the world live our purpose of ‘making life better’, and with a strong culture centred on employee ownership, we stand ready to accelerate our environmental actions.

Our products and services provide a unique opportunity to contribute to solving many of the environmental issues facing our world. We are proud to share our 2030 and 2050 environmental goals, focused on improvements in water, air and land quality.

Water

  • 17% water-use reduction in operations by 2030
    By 2030, eliminate, reduce or recycle >1 billion gallons of water annually in our customers’ processes and applications through the use of our products

Air

  • Realise net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in our operations by 2050
  • 100% renewable energy by 2050
  • Reduce GHG emissions by 60% in our operations by 2030
  • Reduce customer GHG impacts >15% from IR products by 2030

Land

  • Achieve zero waste to landfill at >50% of current sites by 2030

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Rajiv Williams

Corporate Head – CSR
Jindal Stainless Group

This year’s World Environment Day marks the formal launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021–2030), giving support to the preamble of the 2030 Agenda, wherein world leaders have affirmed their commitment to ‘protect the planet from degradation’. I feel we need to pause and think on this commitment, go beyond the statement, and measure the ‘where’ and ‘what’ of things that need to be done to achieve the goals set out at COP 21, consolidated in the Paris Accord. After all, it is the comity of nations under the UN umbrella that has established the Conference of Parties (COP) and has an important role to play in protecting the environment as projected by the apex decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

As of now, the scenario on the targets seems to be rather farfetched with only limited action plans in place on a host of climate indicators and limited resources being allocated towards achieving the goals. What I see most corporations doing is carrying out massive tree-planting drives with the purpose of supposedly becoming carbon-neutral by the year 2030. In my view, in focusing only on tree planting they are neglecting other major challenges with regard to the ecosystem-restoration agenda, and are not directly assisting in recovery of ecosystems degraded or destroyed.

It is time for corporations to reduce pressure on the existing environment, especially in this globalised economy, by respecting ‘nature’ and protecting it from being degraded. While ambition drives businesses to extract the maximum to increase their profit margins, yet from the business-responsibilities standpoint, they need to plough back a fair share of their profits to make the world sustainable and place adequate emphasis on responsible sourcing and responsible consumption.

At Jindal Stainless Limited Group of Companies, sustainability is increasingly a top priority with increased investments in production processes, primarily towards reducing carbon emissions. These have resulted in reducing the energy-consumption load and increasing the use of alternate sources of energy. Among other things, the company has invested in rooftop solar energy and firmed up plans to enhance its solar utilities by installing floating solar panels on the water reservoir co-located inside the plant premises. Efforts towards this end started with carrying out an energy audit of all facilities. 

In addition, the company is making efforts to optimally utilise other biofuels like saw dust, rice husk, bagasse, rice straw and coconut shell. This shift in policy has resulted in reducing not only its greenhouse gas emissions but also its hydrocarbon and carbon dioxide life-cycle emissions. The atmospheric fluidised bed combustion (AFBC) boiler offers efficient, cost-effective and reliable steam generation, which further underlines the company’s commitment to protect the environment. 

I am of the firm belief that we must periodically monitor and evaluate the outcomes. At JSL, all environment-related activities are being monitored by BEE-certified energy auditors and managers as per ISO 50001 standard.

To sum up, I feel we need to go beyond our closed operational areas and support the WED theme of ‘ecosystem restoration’. We also need to move beyond rhetoric by demonstrating our resolve through a well-coordinated ‘action plan’.

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Chulamas Jitpatima
Country Director, MQDC India

On 2030
Achieving the 2030 goal is heavily dependent on developing dynamic partnerships and recognising and implementing tactical strategies keeping in view the 17 goals. There is a lot of distance to be covered not only when it comes to collaborations between the various government bodies but also in terms of commitments by citizens and businesses to attain improved outcomes. The collective intent must be to protect the planet from degradation through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing our natural resources, and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations.

On ecosystem restoration
‘Ecosystem restoration’ is about reinstating the lost parts of our Earth and natural resources. Over the past decades, the world has moved at a breakneck speed, accelerating developmental activities that are exhausting our resources at a blinding speed, impacting the natural order of replenishment. The responsibility falls on us as businesses, governments, and citizens of the planet to revise our approach towards the use of resources and work towards systematic strategies to allow plenty of time for the same to replenish. We will need to simultaneously develop and explore alternate and renewable sources of energy to reduce the pressure on finite natural resources. Such a structured and planned approach will not only conserve these resources for our future generations but also help in the survival of related species.

MQDC, under its credo ‘For All Well-Being’, is committed to the wellness and sustainability of all living beings. We invest in extensive research to create environment-friendly property developments. 

MQDC’s ‘sustainnovation’ approach draws on the work of its in-house Research & Innovation for Sustainability Center (RISC), which has helped develop a rigorous set of standards and guidelines that ensure well-being in every facet of MQDC projects, from unit layouts to lighting, air conditioning and air quality. RISC focuses on several aspects such as indoor/outdoor materials, air quality, construction methods, and controlling pollution. There is also the FutureTales Lab which is a research centre for future solutions planning and proactive advocacy. The lab focuses on finding future solutions and exploring possible scenarios in habitat and well-being. Our research-based approach can be seen in elements such as ‘universal design’, ‘smart home automation’, and eco-materials.

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Raju B Ketkale
Deputy Managing Director–Manufacturing
Toyota Kirloskar Motor

At TKM, our initiatives are conceptualised and designed to meet our objectives of lowering our environmental impact and living in harmony with nature. The need to protect the environment in the face of human impact has been widely discussed for decades. To push that human impact into a more positive space, Toyota has aligned its initiatives with environmental sustainability and reduced resource consumption. At TKM, we have set a challenge for ourselves to go beyond the comfort zone and embrace sustainability in all our initiatives, with a goal of creating a net positive impact by 2050.

In 2015, Toyota globally had announced the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050. It comprises six challenges that are directly or indirectly linked to the Global SDGs.

Challenge 1 – linked to SDGs 7 (affordable and clean energy) and 13 (climate action)
Toyota is working towards zero vehicle CO2 emissions by developing sustainable mobility solutions and introducing hybrid electric vehicles, including hydrogen-based fuel-cell electric vehicles. We intend to achieve 40% CO2 reduction in all our new vehicles by 2030. By 2050, we hope to be able to reduce 90% of emissions from our products. 

Challenge 2 – linked to SDGs 7, 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) and 13
We are expanding our best practices in energy reduction and also promoting renewable energy among our value-chain partners (suppliers, logistics, dealers). We are aiming to bring down CO2 reduction across life cycle to zero by 2050, and have a mid-term target of reducing the same by 32% by 2030.

Challenge 3 – linked to SDGs 12 (responsible consumption and production) and 13
Toyota has been continuously and rapidly shifting from non-renewable to renewable sources of energy across its business operations, with one of the main focus areas being electricity consumption. We are harnessing solar energy and also purchasing renewable energy. We have 8.2MW solar power installed inside TKM premises and 18MW offsite installation, which is exclusive for TKM. During FY 2020–21, we met 94% of our total energy requirement through renewable sources.

Challenge 4 – Linked to SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation for all)
We reduced 90% of freshwater intake for manufacturing processes in FY 2020–21. The target is to reach zero freshwater usage for production purpose by the year 2030.

Challenge 5 – linked to SDGs 9 and 12
Steel is an essential raw material for the passenger-car industry, constituting up to 23 per cent of the weight of the final finished product. Steel consumption has an impact on both business operations and the environment as it involves large CO2 emissions throughout its life cycle, right from mining to its scrapping and reutilisation. At Toyota, we are taking steps to maximise the steel yield and minimise wastage by identifying and implementing kaizens. 

Likewise, we have adopted various initiatives in waste management. For example, approximately 45% of the plastic packaging at TKM has been reduced and this in turn has contributed in reducing CO2 by 70 tons. Hazardous sludge disposal has been reduced through co-processing, wherein cumulative from FY 2014 to 2020, we have reduced 150,627 tons CO2 emissions.

Challenge 6 – linked to to SDGs 3 (good health and well-being) and 11 (sustainable cities and communities)
We aim to conserve biodiversity, create awareness, and promote environmental education through collaboration with our internal and external stakeholders.