The first global conference on environment, held in Stockholm in 1972, was an initiative to place environmental issues at the forefront of the international community. It was also the start of a dialogue between industrialized and developing countries.
The conference slogan ‘Only One Earth’ became the catchphrase for environmentalists all over the world. Now, 50 years later, Earth continues to be the only planet in the universe that we can call home, even as scientists, space mavericks and international space stations continue the hunt for another habitable planet.
‘Only One Earth’ is the campaign slogan for World Environment Day 2022, with the focus on ‘Living Sustainably in Harmony with Nature’. It advocates for transformative environmental change on a global scale and for a sustainable future. It highlights action related to climate, nature and pollution.
Protection and conservation of environment has become the top priority for governments around the world as the double blow of pollution and climate change is creating environmental crisis in the form of flash floods, earthquakes and heat waves. Various tools and initiatives have been adopted by the industry and Government to mitigate environmental concerns.
One of the most effective tools has been ‘environmental impact assessment’. CII, through its Centres of Excellence, has been working with the industry to address the sudden risks arising out of environmental issues through capacity building and advisory services.
The CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre developed the first of its kind ‘Greenco rating’ system for evaluating the ‘greenness of companies’. The centre works on promoting energy efficiency initiatives in various sectors and spearheads the green building movement in the country. The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) launched the ‘Mission on Net Zero’, on Earth Day 2021, with a vision to facilitate India’s journey towards achieving Net Zero by 2050.
The CII Triveni Water Institute (CII-TWI) helps stakeholders identify and implement sustainable water and wastewater management technologies for minimizing risks to the environment. Customized and integrated solutions for water risk evaluation and planning are delivered through WATSCAN application, in addition to water auditing and Water Pinch services.
Evidence based implementation of appropriate water management strategies at the grassroots level is a key area of work for the Institute. Village level assessment and implementation of water management strategies has helped in increasing water availability, stabilizing groundwater levels, improving water tables, rejuvenating lakes and drought-proofing villages.
The CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development (CESD) encourages corporates to adopt sustainable business practices, accelerate innovative ideas and design solutions for sustainable value creation by advising them on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) targets.
The Centre’s Climate Action Programme 2.0° helps companies develop climate change strategies, policies, internal processes and frameworks to facilitate low carbon growth. The national initiative ‘Cleaner Air – Better life’ aims to provide cleaner air and a better quality of life to every Indian citizen by involving industry leaders to take concrete steps to curb air pollution across India. The recently launched India Plastics Pact aims to change the way plastics are designed, used and reused to transition to a circular economy where plastics never become waste.
Open-field Crop Residue Burning (CRB) in Punjab and Haryana is a major cause for air pollution in Delhi-NCR. It also impacts the rural air quality and health of the farming communities. CII Foundation’s CRB mitigation project is piloted in more than 250 villages and supports 45,000 farmers in adopting biomass recycling measures, regenerative agricultural practices such as ‘mulching’ and mechanization through ‘community tool banks’.
Efficient waste management is crucial for the health and well-being of people. However, in many areas, especially slum clusters, there is a glaring lack of efficient waste management, leading to air and water pollution. The foundation’s community waste management initiatives create awareness and catalyse civic engagement for safe collection and segregation of waste, encourages waste recycling, builds skills and enhances safety of waste workers.
While individual consumption choices do make a difference, it is the collective action that will create the transformative environmental change that’s needed as we move towards a more sustainable and just Earth, where everyone can flourish.