Sustainability reports are today produced by everyone from cities to airports. But ever heard of groups of companies producing a joint report? That’s exactly what’s happening in India.
Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is helping foundry sector companies in India to start producing sustainability reports in order that the numerous sustainability challenges that the sector faces – from energy consumption to environmental and Occupational Health and Safety impacts – can be measured and addressed.
GRI’s work is part of a project called Scaling up Sustainable Development of MSME Clusters in India led by the Foundation for MSME Clusters and funded by SWITCH Asia, a European Union program that supports the sustainability-related activities of Asian companies.
The project, which began life in 2012, is a result of both the growing realization that the foundry sector in India was one of the most unsustainable and energy-intensive sectors, and also an understanding that a strategy was needed to introduce more sustainable environmental and social business practices.
There are around 5,500 foundry enterprises in India, clustered in 47 urban locations. 90 percent of these are micro and small enterprises (MSEs) and use obsolete and inefficient technologies that are both harmful to the environment and employees. The ‘Scaling up’ project supports around 500 of these MSEs in the states of Punjab, Rajasthan and West Bengal. The aim is simple: help them adopt sustainable business practices that not only alleviate their negative environmental and social impacts, but will also help them become more competitive by improving access to business opportunities and public support schemes.
GRI’s role in this project over the last year has been to develop a methodology that enables clusters of MSE foundry sector enterprises to produce – on a voluntary basis – joint sustainability reports on their operations and impacts.
Gathering information from a select number of companies and collating it into one report in this way is achieved by using an ‘aggregate reporting methodology’. The development of this methodology involved examining each of the Standard Disclosures in the GRI Guidelines and deciding how each could be addressed in a way that makes sense for a group of separate companies.
Enrique Torres, Senior Manager Training & Coaching Programs at GRI, said, “These are very technical terms that we’re speaking of here: ‘aggregate reporting’, ‘Standard Disclosures’. What we are really doing is applying GRI’s Guidelines and customizing the GRI training materials for the foundry sector in India with a clear end goal: helping companies in this sector to embrace sustainable, clean and safe production methods that will benefit workers on the ground and have long-term sustainability value.”
“It’s been quite a learning experience to be involved in this project. 2013 was all about developing the aggregate reporting methodology and this year will be about putting this methodology to use. We look forward to seeing the first aggregate reports come to fruition.”
GRI is now working to introduce and facilitate the use of its aggregate reporting methodology by foundry sector enterprises. The focus has initially been on the regions of Punjab and Rajasthan, where two GRI workshops have been held in each region to explain the value of sustainability reporting and how it can help to improve the management of sustainability impacts.
On February 24, the first GRI Certified Training Course was held in Ajmer, Rajasthan, led by GRI Certified Training Partner – Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). A second Certified Training Course will be held in Punjab this month. Over the coming 10-12 months, the participating enterprises will be supported in producing their aggregate reports by CII.
GRI anticipates that these activities will set a good example and encourage more foundry sector enterprises in India to follow suit and disclose and manage their impacts. This will go a long way towards helping the foundry sector in India become more sustainable.