Lead­ing Change To­wards Sus­tain­abil­ity: Naina Lal Kid­wai

FICCI Business Digest - - Contents -

Naina Lal Kid­wai, Past Pres­i­dent, FICCI, is Chair­man, Max Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices and Ad­vent Pri­vate Eq­uity. She is also a Non-Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor on the global board of Nes­tle, CIPLA Ltd and Larsen & Toubro. She re­tired in De­cem­ber 2015 as Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of HSBC Asia-Pa­cific and Chair­man HSBC-In­dia.

An MBA from Har­vard Busi­ness School, she has been be­stowed with many awards and hon­ours; she was awarded the Padma Shri for her con­tri­bu­tion to Trade and In­dus­try in 2007. She has au­thored Sur­vive or Sink: An Ac­tion Agenda for San­i­ta­tion, Wa­ter, Pol­lu­tion and Green Fi­nance, Con­tem­po­rary Bank­ing in In­dia and 30 Women in Power: Their Voices, Their Sto­ries.

She is one of the Govern­ment of In­dia's rep­re­sen­ta­tives on the BRICs Busi­ness Coun­cil where she chairs the fi­nan­cial ser­vices work­ing group, and the INDO-ASEAN Busi­ness Coun­cil.

In an in­ter­view with Manu Shankar, Naina Lal Kid­wai em­pha­sizes her com­mit­ment to­wards en­vi­ron­ment and elab­o­rates on the role of the govern­ment and cor­po­rates:

Give us an in­sight into your book Sur­vive or Sink…

I have been writ­ing on en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues for the last decade in the main-line dailies and mag­a­zines and have been part of global think tanks on these sub­jects. Sur­vive or Sink is an ac­tion agenda for san­i­ta­tion, pol­lu­tion and the en­vi­ron­ment – about uti­liz­ing our nat­u­ral re­sources paving the path to an eco­log­i­cally sus­tain­able fu­ture. My book ex­plores the in­ter­link­ages between wa­ter, san­i­ta­tion and a cleaner en­vi­ron­ment high­light­ing the role that cit­i­zens, in­dus­try, civil so­ci­ety, me­dia and the govern­ment needs to play in col­lab­o­ra­tion with each other to ad­dress these is­sues. Sur­vive or Sink is a wake-up call and high­lights vi­able so­lu­tions to these en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems.

This book also cov­ers sub­jects like green fi­nance and the fi­nan­cial frame­work for sus­tain­abil­ity, in­clu­sive growth, green jobs and the crit­i­cal role of women in so­cial trans­for­ma­tion.

The book is re­plete with ex­am­ples of cor­po­rate good prac­tices in san­i­ta­tion, wa­ter man­age­ment and en­vi­ron­ment – suc­cess sto­ries that should be cel­e­brated and repli­cated. Cli­mate change is a crit­i­cal is­sue that is af­fect­ing one and all and the na­tional cli­mate ac­tion, un­veiled by the prime min­is­ter ahead of the Paris cli­mate talks too show­cases In­dia's ef­fort to re­duce the amount of car­bon pro­duced. Your take on that …

Cli­mate change has no bor­ders or bi­ases. It does not care whether you are rich or poor, big or small. With time the world has re­al­ized the need to ac­cel­er­ate their ef­forts to­wards cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tion and adap­ta­tion. In­dia, too, has taken the lead on cli­mate change by firm­ing up its stance to fol­low a low-car­bon growth tra­jec­tory while look­ing to grow the econ­omy. In fact, In­dia has been tak­ing the lead in ad­dress­ing this is­sue while mov­ing ahead with its de­vel­op­ment agenda. If we do it right, we will gain eco­nom­i­cally from live­able and pro­duc­tive cities and from clean sources of en­ergy pow­er­ing our homes and in­dus­tries. We will have health­ier and pro­duc­tive peo­ple. My book high­lights the loss to GDP and the costs of pol­lu­tion and poor san­i­ta­tion. The role of the govern­ment is im­por­tant in for­mu­lat­ing poli­cies, giv­ing stim­u­lus to cli­mate-sen­si­tive sec­tors and clean en­ergy, build­ing and as­sim­i­lat­ing the knowl­edge repos­i­tory of cli­mate­friendly so­lu­tions and tech­nolo­gies. How­ever, these ef­forts will ul­ti­mately need to be put into ac­tion by large and small busi­nesses, the fi­nan­cial world and cit­i­zens.

The govern­ment with the Swachh Bharat Mis­sion has raised aware­ness and the sit­u­a­tion of pro­vi­sion of toi­lets has im­proved from 40 to 76 per cent. But, what more can be done in the area of san­i­ta­tion?

The mag­ni­tude of the san­i­ta­tion cri­sis in In­dia can­not be over­stated, given its sig­nif­i­cant so­cial, eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal reper­cus­sions. It is one of In­dia's great­est un­met chal­lenges. There is an ur­gent need to build greater mo­men­tum around a broader un­der­stand­ing of what will make In­dia truly clean. Con­struc­tion of toi­lets will and must con­tinue. How­ever, we have to move for­ward, away from merely the pro­vi­sion of toi­lets to toi­lets that are used, main­tained and where all hu­man waste is safely treated and dis­posed. In or­der to do this ef­fec­tively, all con­ver­sa­tion and ef­forts around san­i­ta­tion need to be viewed through a BUMT (Build-Use-Main­tain-Treat) lens – which is the mis­sion of the In­dia San­i­ta­tion Coali­tion. Fail­ing to do so will risk the cur­rent spends and struc­tures laps­ing into dis­use by com­mu­ni­ties that have not been won over to con­sis­tent and univer­sal use – lead­ing to con­tin­ued rise in dis­eases and deaths caused by ex­po­sure to un­treated hu­man waste in the en­vi­ron­ment. With­out ad­e­quate and ur­gent at­ten­tion to fae­cal sludge treat­ment, pub­lic health ben­e­fits that can ac­crue with univer­sal ac­cess to safe san­i­ta­tion will con­tinue to elude us. We should all be ask­ing “Where does my fae­cal sludge go?” You may dis­cover to your dis­may that it is pol­lut­ing wa­ter bod­ies and fields, emp­ty­ing into rivers and drains rather than be­ing treated and, ide­ally, the waste wa­ter be­ing re-used.

How can cor­po­rates play a greater role in san­i­ta­tion and can PPP help drive the san­i­ta­tion is­sue? Also do you think that stake­hold­ers should look at san­i­ta­tion is­sue be­yond their CSR lens?

Cor­po­rates have a key role to play in the na­tional Swachh Bharat agenda. Po­lit­i­cal will teamed with pri­vate pub­lic part­ner­ships is crit­i­cal in adding mo­men­tum to the Swachh Bharat Mis­sion. When think­ing of the role of cor­po­rate en­gage­ment in the san­i­ta­tion space, we must base this on the value ad­di­tions they can both bring and ac­quire. This could range from last-mile con­nec­tiv­ity in terms of ad­vo­cacy, skill de­vel­op­ment and ca­pac­ity build­ing, ecosys­tem build­ing in­clud­ing pro­vi­sion for prod­ucts and ser­vices, to a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion of their own busi­nesses. CSR spends and en­gage­ment by cor­po­rates is al­ready ev­i­dent in set­ting bench­marks of best prac­tice, or im­prove­ment in tech­nolo­gies and ser­vices – en­sur­ing the shift to­wards 'sus­tain­able' mod­els for san­i­ta­tion. We should also see cor­po­rates coming to­gether to jointly work on large projects repli­cat­ing suc­cess sto­ries to­gether rather than look for in­di­vid­ual glory and credit .

Cli­mate change has no bor­ders or bi­ases. It does not care whether you are rich or poor, big or small. With time the world has re­al­ized the need to ac­cel­er­ate their ef­forts to­wards cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tion and adap­ta­tion. In­dia, too, has taken the lead on cli­mate change by firm­ing up its stance to fol­low a low-car­bon growth tra­jec­tory while look­ing to grow the econ­omy.

There is a need to de­velop an 'Ease of Do­ing Busi­ness in San­i­ta­tion' for the pri­vate sec­tor mak­ing it eas­ier for cor­po­rates to en­gage in the space. Ex­am­ples could in­clude part­ner­ships of cor­po­rates and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and cre­at­ing san­i­ta­tion aware­ness among school stu­dents un­der ed­u­ca­tion or school pro­grammes. With BUMT as its phi­los­o­phy, the In­dia San­i­ta­tion Coali­tion (ISC) works with ex­perts who test and de­velop ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion pro­grammes. An­other way could be by sup­port­ing in­sti­tu­tional frame­works for cer­ti­fi­ca­tions, stan­dards and ver­i­fi­ca­tion, which would help to flag ar­eas of strength, ar­eas that need im­prove­ment, and link­ages between them.

To take this be­yond CSR, there is a need to de­velop an 'Ease of Do­ing Busi­ness in San­i­ta­tion' for the pri­vate sec­tor mak­ing it eas­ier for cor­po­rates to en­gage in the space. Ex­am­ples could in­clude part­ner­ships of cor­po­rates and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and cre­at­ing san­i­ta­tion aware­ness among school stu­dents un­der ed­u­ca­tion or school pro­grammes. With BUMT as its phi­los­o­phy, the In­dia San­i­ta­tion Coali­tion (ISC) works with ex­perts who test and de­velop ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion pro­grammes. An­other way could be by sup­port­ing in­sti­tu­tional frame­works for cer­ti­fi­ca­tions, stan­dards and ver­i­fi­ca­tion, which would help to flag ar­eas of strength, ar­eas that need im­prove­ment, and link­ages between them. What are the best global prac­tices that In­dia can adopt to make san­i­ta­tion cam­paign suc­cess­ful?

Ger­many is a great ex­am­ple in for­ward plan­ning and ad­dress­ing the last mile as far as san­i­ta­tion is con­cerned. Ger­man san­i­ta­tion pro­grammes and strate­gies have in­cluded a tar­get-ori­ented ap­proach, em­pha­siz­ing that se­lected san­i­ta­tion in­ter­ven­tions must be lo­cal­ized tak­ing into ac­count the needs and cir­cum­stances of the users. Rec­og­niz­ing that Ger­many has been able to up­hold the qual­ity and ef­fi­ciency of their cen­tral­ized waste­water sys­tems ow­ing to its wa­ter and cap­i­tal-rich profile, de­vel­op­ing coun­tries must ex­plore bet­ter suited de­cen­tral­ized sys­tems. In­no­va­tive so­lu­tions and sup­port­ing en­trepreneur­ship are also im­por­tant. This no­tion of pro­mot­ing sus­tain­able tai­lored so­lu­tions to re­spec­tive lo­cal­i­ties and ge­ogra­phies will be im­per­a­tive to the suc­cess of SBM in In­dia, par­tic­u­larly given the diver­sity of the coun­try. Closer home some of the suc­cess sto­ries from South­east Asia pro­vide im­por­tant learn­ings. For ex­am­ple, dis­trib­uted smaller sewage treat­ment plants widely used in In­done­sia and Malaysia are ideal for In­dia. They can be set up at one­fif­teenth the cost and can be ex­e­cuted in a year ver­sus eight to ten years as we are used to see­ing in In­dia.

You have been past FICCI Pres­i­dent. Where would you like to see FICCI go from here as in­dus­try's voice for pol­icy change?

In­dus­try bod­ies such as FICCI serve as vi­tal plat­forms for knowl­edge shar­ing and shap­ing poli­cies, cre­at­ing syn­er­gies between In­dian in­dus­try, pol­icy mak­ers and the in­ter­na­tional busi­ness com­mu­nity. With its strong legacy of shap­ing the na­tional de­vel­op­ment dis­course, FICCI's role go­ing for­ward will be crit­i­cal in driv­ing re­spon­si­ble, sus­tain­able, busi­ness and good gov­er­nance. Global in­vestors and com­mu­ni­ties are be­gin­ning to de­mand this of busi­ness and we would be re­miss to ne­glect this trend. And then there are huge busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties for us to grasp and im­ple­ment therein too.

Naina Lal Kid­wai, Past Pres­i­dent, FICCI, & Chair­man, Max Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices and Ad­vent Pri­vate Eq­uity, pre­sent­ing a green cer­tifi­cate to Suresh Prabhu, Min­is­ter of Com­merce & In­dus­try.

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