south asia sustainability

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) South Asia Summit held virtually during July, has resulted in the development of a Charter on Sustainability Imperatives.

The Charter on Sustainability Imperatives commits to a decade of urgent action in South Asia to ensure the completion of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Organisations and countries that sign up to the Charter agree to uphold three principles:

  1. Compliance: Adhere to all applicable national and sub-national laws and regulations wherever they operate.
  2. Ethics and governance: Act with the highest ethical standards and integrity, taking decisions and implementing actions in good faith.
  3. Transparency and disclosure: Make public their performance on economic, environmental and social dimensions.

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Signatories will commit a series of actions, within two years, including:

  • Publicly disclose their understanding of sustainability, either through a regularly published document or on an online platform.
  • State the specific SDGs they identify as material, setting out how they relate to their business and are integrated in their strategies and plans.
  • Commit to at least two new initiatives linked to the SDGs and showcase the impacts and business benefits that they lead to.

Aditi Haldar, the director of GRI’s South Asia regional hub, said: “Attended by almost 1,500 people across the region and globally, GRI’s first-ever South Asia Summit was a catalyst for generating ideas on how to advance sustainable development and empower organisations to support the SDGs. What is important is that these contributions are not lost but lead to action.

“Following the Summit, we have channelled the momentum generated into this Sustainability Charter, which commits organizations to increase their engagement in support of sustainable development. The Charter will encourage businesses to join our collective efforts to secure a fairer and more sustainable future for South Asia.”

Prof. Lakshman R Watawala, president of the Institute of Certified Management Accountants of Sri Lanka, adds: “The GRI South Asia Summit was timely in bringing to light sustainability imperatives which need urgent action and will be highlighted in the Charter, giving an action plan to both the government and the private sector.”

Arup Chatterjee, the principal financial sector specialist at the Asian Development Bank, said: “Using a range of common frameworks for the disclosure of environmental, social and governance risks and the adoption of strategies to mitigate them, the South Asia Charter on Sustainability Imperatives will positively influence businesses and stakeholders for voluntarily committing to comply, monitor, and validate ESG performance standards.”