Towards India - EU CSR & Sustainability Forum (TIES Forum)
Centre for Responsible Business (CRB) in partnership with the European Union (EU) Delegation to India has commenced a pilot study on the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) expenditure patterns of EU Companies operating in India and their contributions towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in this country. The EU is the largest trading partner in India with a total trade value in goods (import and export) of over USD 80 billion in 2019. The EU’s share in foreign investment inflows to India more than doubled from 8% to 18% in the last decade, making the EU the first foreign investor in India. More than 6,000 EU companies are established in India, providing directly 1.7 million jobs and indirectly 5 million jobs in a broad range of sectors. Hence trade and sustainable development (TSD) is an important issue for the EU in its overall trade-related policy and practice. Moreover, the ‘EU-India Strategic Partnership 2020-25’ underlines greater cooperation by both Parties on sustainable development.
With the EU strategy for CSR for 2011-2014, the European Commission (EC) has been playing an active role in the promotion of CSR and helped embed social responsibility into companies’ strategies. In 2015, CSR Europe launched the Enterprise 2020 Manifesto which aimed to set the direction of businesses in Europe and play a leading role in developing an inclusive sustainable economy and can be understood as a response to the EU Strategy on CSR as well as to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. India has its own laws regarding CSR. With the amendment of the Companies Act in 2013, the idea of CSR came to the spotlight and is promoting greater transparency and disclosure in the world of work. The Act encourages companies to spend at least 2% of their average net profit from the previous three years on CSR activities. Schedule VII of the Act lists out the CSR activities and suggests communities to be the focal point. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, has also released the National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct (NGRBC), and The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has developed the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (BRSR) and made it mandatory for the 1000 listed companies in India.
- To map and assess the contribution of EU companies’ CSR and Sustainability initiatives and their impact in India,
- To design a platform for EU companies to collaborate, facilitate and leverage experiences on Sustainability and CSR.
- Increased Trade Relations between EU and India
- A B2B platform where both EU and Indian businesses can interact as well as showcase their work on CSR and SDG and build a network
- A platform where the businesses can seek assistance from the European Union
A research study is underway to understand and assess the contribution of EU businesses towards Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability in India. It endeavours to identify opportunities for increasing the effectiveness of such initiatives, especially through the establishment of a platform for EU businesses on CSR and Sustainability. In this regard, a survey questionnaire has been developed with the aim to examine EU companies’ ability to lead and collaborate on CSR and Sustainability, thereby contributing towards the SDGs in India. Information gathered through this questionnaire survey will be used strictly for the purpose of this project supported by the EU Delegation in India and being implemented by the Centre for Responsible Business. The survey has been sent to EU companies that operate in India as well as EU Embassies and EU Chambers of Commerce in order to extend the scope of the survey and receive sufficient amount of responses.
So far the Inception Report and the Secondary report have been prepared based on which the primary research has been designed. A consolidated report of the whole project will be released once the research concludes (i.e., around the last week of September 2021).
- Stakeholder Meetings & Event
Individual Stakeholder meetings are underway with the officials of a number of EU Companies that operate in India and have participated in the survey. On 14th September 2021, a roundtable stakeholder meeting will be organised which will include these core businesses, civil society organisations, academia, think tanks, international organisations, representatives from the Indian Government, EU Delegates and many more.
- India and Sustainability Standards (ISS) Conference
The final report on TIES Forum along with the findings and recommendations from the research study will be launched and presented simultaneously at the ISS 2021 Conference. There will also be a session as well as a panel discussion on the topic.