3rd Sustainability Summit: Asia 2008 "Competiveness Redefined"

The Theme

The current financial crisis and economic slowdown has left businesses and governments scrambling for solutions to remain afloat, redraw plans, redo strategies, and redirect resources. Together with climate change, terrorism, and poverty-induced threats, the existing designs of institutions that act as guardians, drivers and protectors of human society are being constantly challenged.

Unless businesses and governments innovate to low-carbon and sustainable growth, they will cease to remain competitive. The new form of competitiveness is to derive profitability and efficiency from being sustainable to the core. This entails a new perception of competitiveness that can create the possibility for sustainable development and long-lasting competitiveness.

Difficult economic slowdown periods offer opportunities to improve resource efficiency, reduce fossil-fuel dependency, partner with key stakeholders, reduce costs and make more profits.

With this backdrop, the CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development and Development Alternatives embarked on an annual Sustainability Summit to seek to answer a fundamentally universal question: what should businesses and governments do to remain competitive and emerge stronger towards the end of the current economic and environmental crisis?

The focus areas under the theme this year are Innovation, Climate change, Corporate sustainability management in Indian companies, Corporate governance, Sustainable livelihoods and Green construction.

In the past two years the Sustainability Summit recognized the need for partnerships between civil society, public and private sectors to foster constructive and innovative solutions to issues pertaining to sustainable development of the region. Over 800 delegates from all India and across the world have participated in this path breaking get-together.

We look forward to meeting you at the Sustainability Summit and defining a new growth trajectory for Asia.

The Beginning

The 1st Sustainability Summit was held on 19-20 December 2006 at New Delhi, India. The focus themes of the Summit were "Forestry: Enhancing Natural Capital" and "Mining: Unearthing Perpetual Value". Prominent leaders from business, civil society and government shared their perspectives interspersed with discussion and debates among participants. The Summit was supported by Ministry of Environment & Foresets, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India; State of Orissa was the Partner State and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) the partner Institution.

The 2nd Sustainability Summit: Asia 2007, 'Partnerships for Action', held on 11-12 December 2007, was inaugurated by Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, Union Minister of External Affairs, Government of India. Australian Government actively supported the endeavour as Partner Country. The two-day summit recognised the urgent need for partnerships between civil society, public and private sectors to foster constructive and innovative solutions to issues pertaining to sustainable development of the region. Deliberations were conducted on the following sub-themes: 'Food Security: Linking Farmers to Market'; 'Partnerships in action: Best Practices', 'Sustainability in Construction: Foundation for Growth', 'Sustainable Financing: Fostering Inclusive Growth', and 'Responsible Mining: Sharing Value'. The Summit was supported by Ministry of Environment & Foresets and Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.

Sustainability Summit 2007
concluded with the presentation ceremony of CII-ITC Sustainability Awards. The Awards were presented by Thiru A Raja, Union Minister of Commerce and Information Technology to the businesses for their exemplary performance in economic, social & environmental dimensions.

Innovation for Sustainability

Economies today have two major challenges: the need to create a sustainable economy, and the need to be competitive in the global market. It is well known that our current society is not sustainable. Innovation and new technology provide a counterweight to business as usual. If living standards are to improve alongside population growth, it will be done at the cost of the planet. Innovations and new technology provide a way to improve social progress through smarter ways of conducting human and industrial activities. Across the range of sustainability issues, the rigidities of the situations we face are most striking. For instance, energy systems are pretty rigid because of the great investment involved in them. It is going to be difficult to change our mix of fossil fuels as energy sources in a reasonable time frame. We need to achieve a major increase in the efficiency of resource use, whilst also preventing unsustainable growth. However, at the same time we must ensure that businesses are able to compete globally, and that they are able to create and retain jobs. These two challenges are often seen as in contradiction to each other, but they need not be.

Towards a low-carbon economy:

Broad consensus is now emerging that the world needs to address the dual challenges of increasing energy supply and services that are critical for economic growth for all developing countries, and moderating and managing climate change. It is not only vital to address climate change as risk to development, but also leverage it as an opportunity to accelerate economic transformation and take advantage of new technologies. Moving toward a low-carbon economy would mean developing a comprehensive approach to climate change extending beyond clean energy and addressing sectors such as transport, agriculture, forests and urban development; a stepped-up programme in policy research and knowledge sharing; an enhanced role in the acceleration of new technology; and an increased engagement in climate risk management.

Strengthening of Sustainable Business Strategies:
Corporate Sustainability Management in Indian Companies

Increasing heterogeneous environment including globalization, changing regulations, and unprecedented innovation coupled with changing stakeholder expectations brings risks and opportunities to the Indian businesses. To seek global competitiveness, Indian industry is adopting approaches to optimise economic, natural and social capital by being accountable to the regulatory requirements and the stakeholder expectations. Seeing what is at stake, CII pioneered the concept and tools of Corporate Sustainability Management. The German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is supporting CII to strengthen and upscale the concept and tools through a four year project in India. This session will focus on bringing together panelists from the Indian government, various leading Indian industry, InWent, the capacity building institution of Germany to discuss the applicability and evolution of new strategies and tools which will enable the Indian businesses to pursue sustainability goals and respond to challenges and opportunities for becoming sustainable organizations.

Corporate Governance & Competitiveness in Transition

To date, most of the debate on corporate governance has centered on legislative policy, to deter fraudulent activities and transparency policy which misleads executives to treat the symptoms and not the cause. Corporate Governance needs to evolve into a system of structuring, operating and controlling a company with a view to achieve long term strategic goals to satisfy shareholders, creditors, employees, customers and suppliers, and complying with the legal and regulatory requirements, apart from meeting environmental and local community needs.

This session is designed to understand emerging needs in the corporate world for being contributors to poverty reduction and accelerating sustainable development while still making profits. In the present scenario and the effects of current rising temperatures, rising prices and a shrinking resource base which could lead to food shortages, high civil unrest, destabilised government structures and inequitable markets, it is important for companies to look at the aggregation of the triple bottom line and convergence towards Social Business with equitable, measurable and profitable economic and social returns.

Co-creating Value for Base of the Pyramid

Tapping into the base of the economic pyramid (BOP) is a key determinant of sustainable competitiveness of companies in India. Not only is the BOP market the largest in India but amongst the largest in the world. An estimated market of 500 million people, it compares with the entire population of the EU and approximately 50 per cent that of Africa. Taking up the challenge of serving this market, many companies failed and few succeeded. Companies scaling-down products to serve the BOP are doomed to fail in the long run. Those that succeed get there by co-creating products and solutions with the users to add value to their life. Success at the BOP calls for innovation in products & solutions offering, delivery, usage, and customer support. Engaging with users to innovate in these areas helps companies establish strong relation and create brand value. This session will explore how some thought-and-action leaders are leveraging the dynamics of the single-biggest market in the world and redefining competitiveness.

Building a Green Future

There is enhanced awareness and growing acceptance of the need for sustainable practices in the construction sector. Pioneers in the field have however, found that it is not easy to promote green building methods. Much can be done to influence key stakeholders towards making the habitat sector more environmentally sound and socially relevant. Moreover, dialogue to help create a more favourable policy environment for low,carbon construction will contribute to enhanced benefits for consumers and greater competitiveness for business on a national and global scale. This session aims to create a platform for sharing solutions to deal with current and anticipated growth levels and for mainstreaming green construction into infrastructure developments in Asia.

Participants

As in the previous years, the 3rd Sustainability Summit: Asia 2008 is expected to attract participants from:

* Academia, Banks & Financial institutions
* Civil Society
* Consultants
* Corporates - small, medium & large
* Development cooperation agencies
* Environmentalists
* Foreign, Central & State Governments , policy makers & regulators
* Infrastructure developers & users
* Management & engineering students
* Media
* Research & educational institutes
* Technocrats

For more information online: Sustainability Summit - 2008
Download registration form here: Registration Form - Sustainability Summit

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