New Delhi, Delhi, India | 25th March 2021: The UK India Business Council has launched its report ‘Supporting India’s Sustainable Development Goals: The Socio-Economic Impact of UK Businesses in India’ at a webinar with UNDP India and NITI Aayog, the policy think tank of the Government of India, on Wednesday 24th March 2021.
The report was launched by UKIBC Chair Richard Heald and CEO Jayant Krishna, Shoko Noda, Resident Representative, UNDP India, Gavin McGillivray, Minister Counsellor Development and Development Director, UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) India, and Abanti Sankaranarayanan, Chief Strategy and Corporate Affairs Officer, Diageo India.
This first report of the UKIBC’s Socio-Economic Impact initiative outlines the contribution of UK businesses in India relative to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of 17 goals that form the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all, as defined by the UN. The report also brings to light the challenges that prevent such action as well as examining and comparing India’s needs and the UK’s strengths to support.
NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant sharing his views on the occasion said, “We are today witnessing unprecedented times which have posed various challenges and difficulties across the economic, social and geo-political dimensions. In these times, the role industry across sector has played is pivotal in providing innovative and engaging solutions leading to a collective and inclusive ecosystem. It is heartening to see the foreign businesses and institutions also actively and willingly contributing towards the SDG acceleration in India. It underscores the importance of international cooperation in fulfilling the Agenda 2030.
India today looks at aggressively expanding its renewable energy programme and has made a global pledge as part of the Nationally Determined Contributions to have 40% of cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel sources. It is therefore good to see in the findings of the report that Clean and Affordable Energy is a priority area for the UK industry in India. We are sure that our structural and regulatory reforms would ensure a congenial business environment for global investors.
I appreciate the commitment of the British industry to working in India. I hope that the synergies, peer engagement and knowledge exchange between UK and India will foster the spirit of international cooperation in achieving the SDGs at national, regional and global levels.”
Mr. Gavin McGaviliray, Ministry Counsellor Development and Development Director, UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) India stated that not only “British industry but UK government is also taking several initiatives to support India’s SDG agenda. One of the most important one is partnering with UNDP in India and Niti Aayog in its capacity to measure the achievement of various SDGs across states. Sharing a few more initiatives, Gavin highlighted the SDG Business Assessment report focusing on Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index and the UK investment arm CDC which invests in private sector in sectors such as climate change, infrastructure, finance and healthcare and has committed US$ 1.8 billion investment across 360 companies in India.”
The UNDP India Resident Representative Shoko Noda during the webinar said that “UNDP has been actively supporting the Government of India to work towards the Sustainable Development Goals and ensure that we ‘Leave No One Behind’. Drawing from our global experience across 170 countries and territories, we firmly believe that the private sector can play an unparalleled role in fostering growth and wellbeing across domains with their commitments, investments, innovative ideas, tools, and technologies for development that benefits all. Our partnership with UKIBC on assessing ‘The Socio-Economic Impact of UK businesses in India’ is an attempt to validate how we can collaborate to solving inequalities. This report clearly demonstrates the significant contribution of UK companies to India’s social development across different domains such as quality education, gender equality, and good health and well-being. This holds a lot of potential for a better and a stronger economy and a more inclusive India.”
Abanti Sankaranarayanan, Chief Strategy and Corporate Affairs Officer, Diageo India, while sharing her views stressed that “Diageo believes that responsibility of social well-being and security is the way forward especially post COVID-19 and agree that private sector plays a key role in leading change and lead a more inclusive way of life for society. Water conservation, skill development, women empowerment and road safety and moderate consumption are some of the important areas where Diageo India focus on. They have recently launched Spirit of Progress a 10-year action plan for achieving sustainable development goals.”
Upon launching the report, UKIBC Chair Richard Heald said, “The UKIBC is proud to launch this report and showcase the amazing work that UK businesses have been contributing to India and their commitments furthermore. In addition to promoting business and investment between the UK and India, it is important that these actions have a positive social impact. As well as providing support to India’s impressive economic growth, UK companies and higher education institutions are contributing to social development practices in India, from advancing clean and renewable energy sources, to supporting education programmes across India. The expertise, resources and experience of UK companies, and indeed wider international engagement, will be critical to overcoming national challenges to development, like education and healthcare for all, as well as international challenges like climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic recovery.”
UKIBC Group CEO Jayant Krishna said, “As India surges ahead in its development journey and strives to improve its Human Development Index ranking, it is more important than ever that businesses play their role, especially for those communities whose plight worsened due to the COVID pandemic. We applaud the UK companies which are contributing so meaningfully to India’s development story, and hope that by launching this report and working with both business and Government we can help to support more companies in their efforts to support sustainable development in India.”
The Report found that UK businesses most commonly supported SDGs: 3 Good Health and Well-being; 4 Quality Education; 5 Gender Equality; and 7 Affordable and Clean Energy in India. It also outlines how the companies determined their SEI-related programmes, challenges and opportunities to do more, and the impact of COVID-19 on businesses’ CSR activities.