CRB has been engaging with VSS in India broadly in three ways, which stem from CRB's understanding about the need for better integration of VSS to improve sustainable business performance in India
Interaction between VSS Standards Setters and Indian Stakeholders
CRB Annual Sustainability Conference (India and Sustainability Standards, (www.sustainabilitystandards.in) offers a platform for international standards setting organisations/professionals working on VSS and other aspects of Sustainable/Responsible Business to interact with Indian stakeholders, across various sectors/thematic areas. Over the 5-plus years of implementing the annual Conference, CRB has been able to facilitate a multi-stakeholder led discourse, leading to certain actions on the ground.
Partnership with VSS Organisations in India
In order to improve awareness and effective uptake of VSS among Indian industry and other users, CRB has been partnering with various VSS in India. Some examples in recent times include
Green Electronics Council (GEC) - A partnership project to develop a set of draft Criteria for end of life management of electronic waste in India, based on ground level research, analysis and discussions with key stakeholders.
Rainforest Alliance A partnership to understand the triggers for market transformation towards sustainable palm oil in India.
Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) - A partnership to engage Indian Industry leaders and champions, to support the process of transformation towards sustainable palm oil in India. It also involves public outreach and awareness raising.
Responsible Mica Initiative (RMI) - A partnership for developing a multi-stakeholder platform to support development of sustainable and inclusive Mica supply chain in the State of Jharkhand in India.
VSS Collaboration India
Given the multiplicity of VSS in the market, the users are often confused about the applicability of VSS. Experts at the international level have been calling for collaboration among VSS. CRB has taken this initiative since Jan 2019 to conduct periodic discussions involving VSS organisations (once a quarter) for them to better acquaint with the experience (domain) of each other and identify areas of common interest and challenge. This initiative is referred to as ‘Walking Together with VSS in India’, and aims to help VSS organisations get better clarity about domains of expertise of each other and explore possible collaborative initiatives.
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Sustainability Ambassadors (2020-21)
Centre for Responsible Business (CRB) and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) came together in mid-2018 through a partnership to examine the challenges/opportunities for uptake of sustainable palm oil in India and in addition to further consolidating activities already undertaken by the two organisations (2018-20), the following activities will be undertaken as part of the current partnership (2020-21):
Engagement with Businesses for Commitment and Actions on Sustainable Palm Oil (Sustainability Ambassadors) :
Looking at the usage of palm oil by the FMCG sector, it is important to further intensify engagement with relevant businesses/organisations/industryassociations/aggregators along the supply chain/value chain.During the course of the project in 2020-21, CRB will identify and engage with organizations/ ambassadors from five constituencies, which are businesses, NGOs, Industry Associations, Banks and Financial Institutions and Public Sector Enterprises
Offering learning and sharing opportunities through the 'Sustainable Palm Oil Coalition for India' platform
(I-SPOC, www.indiaspoc.org). CRB as the secretariat for I-SPOC, in partnership with RSPO will undertake the following activities in 2020-21:
CRB will work towards increasing the membership of I-SPOC
Design and delivery of awareness and capacity building on the subject : It is seen that there is a lack of information (and reference material) amongst various stakeholders regarding sustainable palm oil – its advantages and uptake, especially in the context/perspective of India. Compounding this issue is the widespread misinformation around the use of palm oil.
As part of the project, CRB will design and develop two modules on sustainable palm oil for various stakeholders across the palm oil value chain.These modules will be created to generate awareness on sustainable palm oil, its production and consumption (value chain analysis), impact on the environment and other sustainable development goals (SDGs) – and its influence on demand and supply cycle
The seventh edition of CRB Annual Sustainability Conference (India and Sustainability Standards, www.sustainabilitystandards.in) was organized virtually from 28- 30 October 2020. RSPO co-hosted a session on Sustainable Palm Oil Dialogue for India on 29 October 2020. Watch the session here.
Sustainability Ambassadors (2019-20)
Centre for Responsible Business (CRB) continued its partnership with Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in India and thrived to promote uptake of certified sustainable palm oil across industries and building awareness across organisations. In addition to the few activities from 2018, the year 2019 saw the following activities being undertaken in continuation of this ongoing partnership. CRB and RSPOagreed to undertake these activities to bolster this partnership for achieving the above-mentioned goal.
In addition to further consolidating activities already being undertaken by the two organisations, the partnership between 2019-20 identified these additional activities:
Engagement with Sustainability Ambassadors (industry and organisations)
The aim of these interactions were to understand the nature and volume of use of palm oil;awareness/understanding (including technical elements) of certified sustainable palm oil (specifically RSPO); understand challenges in uptake/use of palm oil and to identify possible pathways for businesses to initiate strategic thinking and movement
Media plays a critical role in creating awareness and sensitizing businesses, consumers and other stakeholders about ‘businesses with purpose’ and promoting its uptake.Recognizing the importance of media, a webinar was organized on the theme “Businesseswith Purpose Future-Proofing Businesses in a Post COVID-19 World” by CRB, RSPO andWWF-India on 16th April 2020. The Webinar aimed to reflect on the critical need for sustainable growth, adoption of an inclusive, economic, social and environmental sustainability model for future-proofing businesses post the pandemic along with raise awareness about sustainable consumption and production (SDG12) in India and initiate the necessary call to action
Youth Fellowship for Sustainable Palm (Y4S)
CRB in consultation with RSPOdesigned and conceptualized a Youth Fellowship forSustainable Palm Oil (YfS).The objective of this programme rolled out in early 2020 has been to offer one of its kind opportunities to youth to take charge by engaging and shaping the sustainability/SDG agenda based on their own ideas and actions. The certificate fellowship pursues to engage youth specifically on SDG 12 (responsible production and consumption) and SDG 13 (climateaction). 4 candidates have been shortlisted as fellows. They are now being mentored by sustainability practitioners on theirideas/actions relating them specifically to SDG12 and SDG13
Multi stakeholder Awareness and Dialogues RSPO was the lead partner for CRB’s 6th Annual Conference onSustainability – India Sustainability Standard 2019 which was organized in Delhi fromNovember 20-22, 2019. RSPO also led two sessions on the second day of the conference which were
Market Transformation towards Sustainable Palm Oil in India, a plenary session comprising CEOs and COOs of 5 major FMCGs and Industries. Mr. Darrel Webber,Ex- CEO, RSPO was a panellist in this session
Sustainable Palm Oil Dialogue in India which also convened I-SPOC ( http://www.indiaspoc.org/ ) members (SecondMembers Meeting)together with other industry stakeholders to highlight key activities under three thematic areas – government policy; supply chain and end consumer issues
Sustainability Ambassadors (2018-19)
Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and Centre for Responsible Business (CRB) came together in mid-2018 through a partnership to examine the challenges/opportunities for uptake of sustainable palm oil in India and to raise the ante on the need and benefits from a transition towards the same. It was evident from the research undertaken earlier by CRB and others on the subject, that focusing on the FMCG sector (given its influence on the supply chain) could help create the demand for sustainable palm oil.
Over the course of the project, CRB focused on identifying ‘sustainability ambassadors’ among FMCG companies in India. This was done through continuous engagement with them to understand the challenges to/opportunities from better uptake of sustainable palm oil. Simultaneously, CRB and RSPO also worked on creating an ‘India story’ on sustainable palm oil by using social and traditional media to start enhancing the visibility and wider understanding on the subject.
By the end of the project timeline, CRB had managed to do the following :
Created the ‘India story’ on Responsible shopping (awareness among consumers about products using certified sustainable palm oil)
Enhanced visibility through Social Media to highlight the need/benefits from transition towards sustainable palm in India
Development and dissemination of IEC related to the ‘India story’ highlighting Responsible shopping
Initiated discussions, interactions and meetings with journalists from both Hindi and English press for engaging on the subject of sustainable palm oil
Created Champions: Sustainability Ambassadors
Sustainable Palm Oil Coalition for India (I-SPOC)
I-SPOC is a business led multi-stakeholder initiative created with the goal of promoting consumption, import and trade of sustainable palm oil and its derivatives along the supply chain. The Coalition through industry collaboration aims to create broader awareness on sustainability issues within industry and among consumers, facilitate multi sector industrial dialogue on sustainable palm oil uptake, build and grow sustainable trade partnerships through links with similar platforms and encourage engagement in policy dialogue for a supportive policy environment and regulation. The Coalition was conceived by four organizations; Centre for Responsible Business (CRB), World Wide Fund for Nature India (WWF-India), Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and Rainforest Alliance (RA) and was formally launched in September 2018.
Read more about the initiative here.