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Prominent Business Heads Commit to ‘Clean Air for All’ Principles; Urge Peers to Support India’s Goals to Improve Air Quality in Cities

On 1 June 2018, in lead-up to the World Environment Day, heads of India’s prominent corporate groups, including Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Co Ltd., Arvind Ltd, Kirloskar Brothers Limited, Dalmia Bharat, KPIT Technologies, Tata Motors, Mahindra Lifespaces and others, joined a high-level CEO roundtable on Friday to shape actions that can be undertaken by the private sector towards supporting India’s ambient air quality goals.

The roundtable was a culmination of a series of consultations between the principals of the Indian corporate sector, chaired by Mr. Jamshyd Godrej, Chairman, Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Co. Ltd, from March 2017 to date. The discussions, co-facilitated by World Resources Institute (WRI) India and Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, saw the business leaders map out a series of actions and initiatives in a CEO Communique that outlines the ‘Clean Air for All’ principles. These principles could be adopted by businesses and their associates to help address India’s growing challenges on air quality.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), in its latest database on global  air pollution, listed 14 Indian cities as the most polluted in the world in terms of PM 2.5 (Particulate Matter with the diameter of 2.5 microns or less) concentrations. Mr. Vivek Adhia, Strategy Head, Climate Program, WRI India, said, “Air pollution is one of the most significant problems plaguing the country today. Aside from being an environmental hazard, bad air quality is also being seen as one of the primary causes for several major health issues in our cities. At this juncture, this initiative from the captains of Indian industries is timely and heartening.”

Expressing the urgent need to support such initiatives to reduce air pollution in India, Mr. Ravi Pandit, Co-founder, Chairman and group CEO, KPIT Technologies, said, “We have reached a stage where it’s a now-or-never situation in managing air quality. The urgency of acting now is inevitable, given the wide-scale impacts that are being observed year on year. Supporting a positive and clean environment has always been strong ethos of KPIT Technologies and we look forward to collaborating with other businesses to help identify solutions in a holistic manner to support Clean Air for All.”

The CEO Communique outlines the importance of cohered actions aimed at building capacity within existing set-ups and driving voluntary business action towards wider collaborations. Underscoring the importance of acknowledging solutions at hand and the need for mass-scale collaborations, Mr. Jamshyd Godrej of Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing, said, “While air pollution has increasingly become a potent challenge for overall social and economic wellbeing, solutions are known and can be financially justified. A comprehensive, holistic understanding of major sources, applicable control measures and committed action plans can help deal with the challenge in a time-bound manner. Our immediate goal should be to meet India’s ambient air quality standards and with that objective in mind, a group of business leaders have come together to facilitate voluntary measures enabling Clean Air for All.”

Based on individual capacity, nature of business and sectoral prerequisites, the CEOs also urged their peers and other corporates to play their part by:

• Undertaking comprehensive and relevant internal assessments to voluntarily reduce emissions from their operations 
• Exploring possibilities to share pollutant information, best practices, learnings and success stories 
• Advancing monitoring, research and knowledge and building expertise 
• Exploring Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives or other approaches to support policy measures including installation of high-grade monitoring stations across key areas, undertaking source apportionment studies etc. 
• Including knowledge building and training modules on air quality management for employees, supply chain partners and the local community, as a part of their existing capacity building initiatives. 

Lauding the initiative and the leadership embarked upon by the private sector on the air quality agenda, Mr. Krishan Dhawan, CEO, Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, said, “Industries have a key role to play in finding solutions to India’s air pollution crisis. It is encouraging to see a group of industry leaders come together and voluntarily commit to actions that will lead to improved air quality in our cities.” The CEOs further invited other progressive and like-minded business leaders to support and draw upon the recommendations outlined in the Clean Air for All principles, for the overall wellbeing of the nation and the future generations.

Mr. Punit Lalbhai, Executive Director, Arvind Ltd, summed it up: “Businesses today are fast realizing that sustainability is a key pillar of corporate excellence leading to efficiency and future leadership. This is a space where collaboration is essential to drive large scale impact. Working on a common agenda, sharing best practices and urging peers to partner for air quality management will help drive an urgency of action towards a cleaner environment. Clean Air for All platform will help to leverage the collective capability of the best minds and institutions so that learnings and experiences can be implemented widely by all including public sector, municipal bodies and private organizations.”

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