Cement sector growing together through the SDGs

December 12, 2017

New Delhi: Today, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)’s Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI) held its 11th Annual forum in New Delhi, India, celebrating how, through sharing knowledge and experience, the private sector can capture and build on the opportunities offered by the SDGs and understand the risks of inaction.

The annual CSI Forum is the most important sustainability event for the cement industry. Organized in a different location every year over the past decade, for the CSI Forum allows its members to interact with partners and key stakeholders and also gives voice to local and regional participants.

This year’s theme focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with an emphasis on areas that are most relevant and critical for the cement and concrete sectors. Since the adoption of the SDGs in September 2015 by 193 UN Member States, a multitude of public and private stakeholders have been harnessing their collective strength to accelerate and scale-up their sustainability agenda through the lens of these ambitious 17 Goals and 169 associated targets.

The SDGs constitute a bold plan to address socio-economic, environment and societal challenges of our time. The scale and ambition of the 2030 development agenda creates further opportunities for the private sector to demonstrate the central role it plays in sustainable development and to serve as an essential partner to bridging the gap in financial and technological capacity necessary to meet the challenges of achieving the SDGs.

Through open and constructive debates, the Forum examined and evaluated the new framework set up by the SDGs to tackle the sustainability challenges that businesses and societies must face together. On the basis of a risk and opportunity assessment, the Forum also explored areas where the cement and concrete industry could take leading steps to engage with the SDGs.

Together, over 100 participants from more than 30 countries, representing cement companies, trade associations, UN agencies, NGOs, financial institutions and multilateral bodies, considered opportunities for collective action by CSI members and for partnerships. The Forum confirmed the need for a collaborative approach to better understand how businesses can enhance their engagement to scale up solutions for a more sustainable world and business environment, in India and worldwide.

Philippe Fonta, Managing Director, WBCSD, commented “The SDGs provide a structured framework to further enhance the good work that has already been done by the cement sector, mainly through the CSI collaborative approach. CSI members are leading the way in sustainability by seizing the opportunities that collaboration creates. The priorities of the CSI remain in the two key areas of ‘Climate & Energy’ and in ‘Safety & Health’, making SDG3 and SDG13 the most relevant ones for our initiative. However, all 17 SDGs are addressed in some way, both by the sector and right across the value chain, and the development of an SDG Framework will help to coordinate the effort, which we strongly endorse at this Forum. “

K K Maheshwari, Managing Director, UltraTech Cement, spoke about the interface of the Indian cement industry with the SDGs “The cement industry in India constitutes one of the core sectors and plays a vital role in the growth and development of the nation. In the last three years alone, the industry has created new production capacity of 52 million tons thus catalyzing development and employment in rural India where the cement plants are primarily located. The Indian cement industry is driving thought and practice leadership in the sustainability space. It is imperative for us as an industry to accelerate the implementation of our sustainability commitments to contribute in a meaningful manner to the SDGs.”

Mahendra Singhi, Group CEO (Cement), Dalmia Bharat Cement, speaking about the way ahead for the cement sector “The Sustainable Development Goals mirror an image of a happy, healthy, safe, auspicious and peaceful world envisioned in our sacred books as back as 2,000 BC. Realization of this ambitious vision is no longer limited to public and private sector. The scale of implementation and the limited timeframe necessitates every Individual to become a change agent of 2030 development agenda for creating a better world.”

Aparna Dutt Sharma, Secretary General, CMA, stated that “The globally energy efficient Indian cement industry is geared to move ahead to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals. CMA is happy to partner with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to bring the first annual meet of the Cement Sustainability Initiative to India.”