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Business is not only an indispensable partner, but the engine that will deliver on the SDGs: Mr Shombi Sharp, Resident Coordinator – India, UN
Jan 11, 2024

Business is not only an indispensable partner, but the engine that will deliver on the SDGs: Mr Shombi Sharp, Resident Coordinator – India, UN


“Business is not only an indispensable partner, but the engine that will deliver on the SDGs, and India is at the centre of this: if it is possible in India, then it is possible globally,” said Mr Shombi Sharp, Resident Coordinator – India, UN, at the CII National CSR Summit, organised by the CII in Delhi today. The Summit brought together corporate leaders, especially CSR leaders, policymakers, experts, and NGOs to deliberate on Corporate Social Responsibility under the Summit Theme: ‘Changing Contours of CSR in India: Visioning for the next decade’.

Setting the context for the Summit, Mr Sharp said that the world is still grappling with challenges and that half of humanity still lives in countries where it is difficult for the countries to make huge spends on healthcare and education. India, he said, has taken a leadership role by bringing to the fore for discussions, especially at platforms like G 20 and COP 28,  the need for human-centric and women-led development, adding that the UN is here to partner for development initiatives.

Sharing the industry perspective on social development, Mr Farhad Forbes, Chair, CII National Committee on CSR 2023-24 & Co-Chairman, Forbes Marshall, said that even before the legislation several corporates were undertaking CSR activities. With the introduction of legislation, CSR spend is getting captured and measured, making it easier for corporates to make more meaningful contributions. Sharing data, he said CSR spend by corporate India stands at Rs 26,000 crore as of now, with the maximum spend on education, healthcare, and rural development. Corporate India has spent over Rs 1 trillion towards CSR, which reflects the scale and participation of companies. However, much needs to be done and several areas need addressing: the geographical disparity in CSR deployment, for instance. It has been observed that states with good economic indicators such as Maharashtra and Gujarat get 44% of CSR spend, while the NE gets a low 1%.  Secondly, the need to move away from a compliance-oriented approach to true impact, and the need for greater transparency to make CSR more meaningful.

Bringing in a new perspective, Mr Anshu Gupta, Founder Director, Goonj, said that the last decade has seen several natural and man-made disasters such as COVID-19, which caused a humanitarian crisis at an unprecedented scale. He spoke of how the pandemic underscored the contribution of the common man or woman such as the nursing staff at hospitals, and how the sight of millions of migrant workers walking back on foot from the big cities to their homes in small towns and rural India necessitates a change in perception. He urged the industry not to see themselves as donors and the community as beneficiaries, but to look at the community as an equal partner and stakeholder in social development and make development a more widespread effort to ensure that migration to big cities becomes a choice, rather than a necessity.

The Summit saw panellists and participants deliberate on a range of issues such as the legal and regulatory reforms, the compliance and enforcement challenges and the CSR policy landscape during sessions such as 10 Years of CSR (Act) in India: A View from CSR Leaders’ lens; Emerging Areas of CSR exploring areas such as sports where corporate India could make a significant impact; Future Forward: CSR Approaches and Areas of Engagement and a Master Class on What CSR Heads are Looking for.

In her welcome remarks, Ms Seema Arora, Deputy Director General, CII said that industry has a key role to play in India meeting the SDG goals and spoke of CII’s initiatives towards social development such as the CII Foundation and the CII India Business and Disability Network.

A special highlight of the Summit was a curated Partnership Zone to facilitate partnerships/collaboration between corporates and implementing agencies, which saw heavy footfall from participants at the Summit.


11 January 2024

New Delhi

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