Breakout Session Day 2

Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) Contribution to SDGs in India

29 October 2020 | 15:45 – 17:15 IST

Lead Partner & Co-host: VSS Collaboration India

Background:

In July 2020, India presented its second Voluntary National Review (VNR) of the progress with pursuing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), at the UN High level Political Forum on the SDGs. This report developed by NITI Aayog, also attempted to highlight private sector contribution to SDGs in India – highlighting some of the pathways used and various approaches/tools/initiatives of the private sector contributing to the national aspiration to leave no one behind[1]. The report recognises and mentions the contribution of VSS as a critical and effective tool often used by the private sector to plan and assess their impact on some of the important SDG targets. While awareness among sustainability professionals and businesses have increased to a certain extent about VSS and their usefulness in assessing sustainability performance on businesses, there is still a long way to go for wider adoption of these market-driven tools.

VSS are requirements that manufacturers, investors, retailers or companies are expected to follow to source, produce, and sell in a sustainable manner. They are a voluntary set of standards which provides a framework for measuring or auditing the social and environmental aspect of business’ performance.

For almost two years, CRB has been convening more than twenty VSS organisations working across various domains and sectors in India with the aim to foster better awareness/understanding among them and explore ways for coordinated activities/initiatives (https://www.c4rb.org/vss). This session would bring together these VSS organisations to interface with international experts, policymakers, and businesses.

[1] https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/26281VNR_2020_India_Report.pdf

Linkage with ISS2020 Theme:

Private sector will need to play a leading role in order for the world to ‘recover better’, post COVID-19. It is also clear that the role of the private sector cannot only be restricted to SDGs finance now and in the future – but to be engaged as a key SDG stakeholder and driver[2]. Voluntary Sustainability Standards and initiatives provide tools/metrics/methodologies for businesses to do so – and be rewarded in the marketplace. The theme of the CRB 7th Annual Conference is – ‘Sustainability a Key to Business Resilience in an Uncertain World’ – and recognizes the contribution that VSS can make towards business resilience by demonstrating linkages to SDGs.

[2] https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/RECOVER_BETTER_0722-1.pdf

Session Objectives:

  • Draw lessons for India from global experiences of VSS Organisations’ contribution to SDGs
  • Discuss perspectives of VSS Organisations on synergies with policies and Government programmes/initiatives in India
  • Explore challenges and opportunities in the uptake of VSS across businesses in India

Outputs:

  • Development of a report on ‘VSS Contribution to SDGs in India’
  • Roadmap for the initiative – ‘VSS Collaboration India’

Speakers:

Rijit Sengupta

CRB

Sanyukta Samaddar, IAS

Adviser (SDGs)
NITI Aayog, Government of India

Cristina Larrea

Lead - Sustainability Standards
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

Joseph Wozniak

Head, Trade for Sustainable Development
International Trade Centre (ITC)

Vidya Rangan

Senior Manager, Impacts and Evidence
ISEAL Alliance

Amresh Deshpande

India Country Manager
Forest Stewardship Council International

Ritu Baruah

India Program Manager
Bonsucro

Sumit Gupta

Head of Quality Assurance & Implementation
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

Vijay Jain

India Program Manager
Responsible Mica Initiative (RMI)

Sanjib Bezbaroa

ITC

Deepak Arora

Nayara Energy (TBC)

Priyanka Chhaparia

CRB

Soumya Guha

SDG Officer
NITI Aayog, Government of India