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FICCI Trilegal Knowledge Report ‘ESG – Into the Mainstream’: Thoughts and narrative on the key themes that the Indian industry will face in its ESG journey

11 Mar 2022

As environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations exploded into the business mainstream over the past few years, climate change has dominated the ESG conversation (with efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius still racing against time) India Inc. has been responsive to this urgency for some time now – several Indian businesses have voluntarily commitied to reducing their carbon footprint and emissions. When it comes to ESG corporate performance, the expectations of key business stakeholders such as investors, regulators, customers, and employees are increasing.

ESG considerations are increasingly influencing the deployment of investment capital, and there is a tremendous appetite for ESG financial products. This has led to an increase in awareness in both the companies that are looking for investment as well as intermediaries such as rating agencies. The regulators are actively incorporating ESG and sustainability factors into the legal framework in ways that will change how companies operate.

In tandem with these regulatory drivers, investors are very much cognizant that corporate citizenship embraces businesses’ social, environmental, and cultural responsibilities towards their employees, workforce, customers, and society. This is being signaled not just by preferring to put capital where it is utilised sustainably, but also through increased investor engagement on non-financial parameters such as workplace culture and conduct, resource efficiency, human rights violations in the supply chain, ethics, governance and corruption, product safety, and reputational risks.

All this has led to a complete change in the narrative around ESG in India. The question that markets are asking is not ‘if’ but ‘how’. The answer perhaps is, by way of ‘intent’ – with companies stepping up to the call for corporate responsibility, investors leading the mission with stewardship and government enabling policies that facilitate the transition.

FICCI has been at the forefront of facilitating this dialogue, and continues to engage industry participants and regulators in several activities over the course of the year. FICCI’s maiden ESG Summit is a surefooted step towards this endeavour.

FICCI and Trilegal are pleased to present to you this publication, ESG – Into the Mainstream, which presents thoughts and narrative on the key themes that the Indian industry will face in its ESG journey. While much work remains in furthering the ESG agenda, including in the areas addressed by this paper; it is encouraging to note that the trend has been in the right direction, and that changes that have been implemented in recent times will drive improvements in financing India’s sustainability agenda.

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