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    Linking SDGs with CSR in India

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    Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on 25 September 2015 to take forward the unfinished business of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted at the Summit broadened the MDGs into 17 goals and 169 targets. Through the Agenda, the Heads of State and Government and High Representatives recognised “eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development”.[1]

     

    As a solution to the problem of resource scarcity for meeting its development objectives, the Government of India adopted a policy of mandatory Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) spending by companies in 2013 when a new Companies Act was adopted. Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013 made it mandatory for every company, which has net worth, net profit or turnover over thresholds to spend on CSR. Medium- and large-sized companies are required to spend 2 percent of their average net profits of previous three financial years on activities specified by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India – excluding activities undertaken in a company’s normal course of business. The provision was implemented in 2014.[2] Estimates of the pool of money generated from the CSR policy ranged between $2.5 billion[3] and about $30 billion[4] at the time the policy was adopted. What is clear is because of the mandatory nature of the CSR policy; the Indian government got an almost guaranteed access to a large pool of money.

    This presents an excellent opportunity for India for setting aside resources for meeting the SDGs, in particular in areas in which India is lagging behind similar other developing countries. The table below demonstrates each CSR activity specified in Schedule VII of Indian Companies Act include activities and schemes that correspond with more than one SDGs.

    Correspondence – CSR in India and SDGs

    Serial Schedule VII, Companies Act 2013* SDGs**
    1 Eradicating hunger, poverty and malnutrition, promoting preventive health care and sanitation and making available safe drinking water

     

    Goal 1 End poverty in all its forms everywhere

    Goal 2 End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

    Goal 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

    Goal 6 Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

    2 Promoting education, including special education and employment enhancing vocation skills especially among children, women, elderly, and the differently abled and livelihood enhancement projects Goal 4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

    Goal 8 Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

    Goal 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries

    3 Promoting gender equality, empowering women, setting up homes and hostels for women and orphans; setting up old age homes, day care centres and such other facilities for senior citizens and measures for reducing inequalities faced by socially and economically backward groups Goal 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

    Goal 8

    Goal 16 Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

    4 Ensuring environmental sustainability, ecological balance, protection of flora and fauna, animal welfare, agroforestry, conservation of natural resources and maintaining quality of soil, air and water Goal 7 Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

    Goal 8

    Goal 9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

    Goal 11 Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

    Goal 12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

    Goal 13 Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

    Goal 14 Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

    Goal 15 Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

    5 Protection of natural heritage, art and culture including restoration of buildings and sites of historical importance and works of art; setting up public libraries; promotion and development of traditional arts and handicrafts Goal 11
    6 Measures for the benefit of armed forces veterans, war widows and their dependents Goal 5

    Goal 10

    7 Training to promote rural sports, nationally recognized sports, Paralympic sports and Olympic sports Goal 4

    Goal 10

    8 Contribution to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund or any other fund set up by the Central Government or the State Governments for socio-economic development and relief and funds for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, other backward classes, minorities and women; and Goal 13

    Goal 11

     

    9 Contributions or fund provided to technology incubators located within academic institutions which are approved by the Central Government Goal 2

    Goal 9

    Goal 14

    Goal 17 Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

    10 Rural development projects Goal 2

    Goal 10

    Goal 12

    * Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Notification, 27 February 2014, http://www.mca.gov.in/Ministry/pdf/CompaniesActNotification3_2014.pdf

    ** Details on targets https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld

     

    Further analysis would help in understanding the possible focus areas for India in SDGs and the manner in which these SDGs could be achieved.

     

    For further reading see:

    • Ministry of Corporate Affairs, The Companies Act, Government of India, http://www.mca.gov.in/MinistryV2/companiesact.html

     

     

    • United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/

     

     

    • Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and NASSCOM Foundation (2015) ‘Catalysing change through corporate social responsibility’

     

     

    • Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and PWC (2013) ‘Handbook on Corporate Social Responsibility in India’

     

     

    Noshir H Dadrawala (2014), “The Story of CSR in India”, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol XLIX Nos 43 & 44, November 1, 2014

     

    Endnotes

     

    [1] https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld

    [2] Ministry of Corporate Affairs

    [3] BCG and NASSCOM Foundation (2015)

    [4] CII and PWC (2013)

     

    © photo and writing: Sanchita Chatterjee 2017

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