Earth Day was started in 1970 as a movement to inspire Americans to voice their concerns against the ill effects of industrial development. In 1990, the initiative went global. As of today, the 22nd of April is the day of action to change human behaviour and bring about change in international, national and local policies.
This year’s Earth Day theme is ‘Invest in our planet‘. Some examples could be to end/reduce your plastic consumption, choose sustainable fashion over fast fashion, invest in climate literacy (learn more about what changes you can bring about in your day-to-day activities), get involved in climate advocacy by demanding action from local representatives and so on.
Building a strong economy also plays a vital role in investing in our future. It is a fundamental societal requirement that secures a better future for all and a system resilient to tackle climate change.
India and BRSR Reporting
India is expected to grow significantly with a booming population and expanding economy. A country that is anticipated to grow should also be prepared to withstand shifts brought about by climate change.
The central government introduced the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR) to align Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting with international standards. BRSR is a follow-up to the existing Business Responsibility Reporting (BRR) introduced in 2011. For the financial year 2021-22, BRSR was voluntary for the top 1,000 listed companies by market capitalisation. But from the financial year 2022-23, it has been made compulsory for these top 1,000 listed companies and voluntary for companies registered as Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
The focus of BRR was mainly subjective and qualitative metrics. These should have provided an in-depth analysis of the operations of companies. BRR, for example, asked questions about the policy on bribery and if it extended to its stakeholders. It also inquired about the amount of energy saved in the life cycle of the products made. BRSR, on the other hand, is quantifiable with essential and voluntary indicators. It pays attention to if the board of directors and other employees have received information and training on ethics and accountability and probes the topics covered in these sessions. It examines how sustainable and safe the sourcing of raw materials is, information about the entire lifecycle, and extended producer responsibility of products. The details requested in BRR were more along the surface and were inclined more to the financial space. In contrast, BRSR dives deeper, demanding more detailed explanations along the lines of international ESG reporting standards. BRSR also asks questions such as:
- How far will companies go to achieve their goals, considering the environment, societal and economic requirements, and why is sustainability essential to the company?
- It also requires companies to disclose the number of women on its board of directors- forcing companies to make the necessary changes along with disclosures associated with employee career growth and stability.
What is left to be seen is the accountability and accessibility of the data provided by the companies. Are these companies willing to put effort into the benefit of society? How willing are they to expose themselves and show the public the good and bad?
If you are willing to invest in our planet this Earth Day, it would be ideal for monitoring the operations of these big corporates and trying to identify their ‘real’ contributions to Indian society.
Are they using the new reporting system to greenwash their way to money, or are they concerned about our future? The best way to understand would be to read their annual BRSR reports and monitor their progress over successive years.
This way, we can understand where our products come from and what happens once we discard them. Furthermore, we can assess how accountable conglomerates are in securing a safer and sustainable future for the planet and its inhabitants.
The article was strategised by Deepa Sai
This article is authored by Ronniya who is a recent Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science graduate from Lund University. She enjoys reading, cooking and identifying solutions to reduce her carbon footprint. She previously volunteered as a board member at a farmers’ organisation in south Sweden along with being a board member for a student organisation on sustainable lifestyle. She has also worked in the e-waste recycling sector in India.