Road to a Sustainable Future

Umang Vohra

March 30, 2021

In my last blog about the reflections of 2020, I emphasized the need for a sustainable future and how it will drive change for good. The world we live in is radically changing driven by global megatrends. Whether it is climate change, resource scarcity, food insecurity, irresponsible consumption, disruptive technologies, these megatrends have a massive impact on the environment. These are likely to change the way that companies will operate over the coming decades. The choices we make right now have a direct impact on the future — that’s a serious responsibility.

At Cipla, we believe in living by our ethos of contributing towards a greener environment and sustainable value creation. We do recognise the impact of our business activities on the environment, and consistently strive to ensure responsible environment management and conservation to encourage sustainable profits for people and the planet. This year, we set for ourselves bold aspirations towards our sustainability journey. By 2025, we aim to achieve carbon and water neutrality, zero-waste to landfill, champion anti-microbial resistance (AMR) stewardship and green chemistry and ensuring wellbeing of employees and partners. This is going to be a challenging task, but this is what it takes it build a truly sustainable business model that gives as much as it takes.

Why the need for sustainable business models?

The biggest reason to care is for our planet. We have a moral and ethical responsibility towards each other, future generations and other species to sustain this place. There are indications fom all quarters that sustainability is something we must address. We will run out of fossil fuels, thousands of animal species will become extinct, we will damage the atmosphere beyond repair – if we don’t act now.

Many big corporations have embedded sustainability into their business and have adopted the triple bottom line structure, which means the focus is not on profits alone but also on environment and social impact.

Purpose-driven organisation

Furthermore, several research studies by Deloitte, Accenture have revealed that the millennial workforce joining the corporate world today are determined to be associated with companies that are purpose-driven - Why does this company exist? And do I want to be associated with this cause?” Purpose has become paramount. While some companies may need to go back to the drawing board, ours is an institution that has been built over the last 85-years on the purpose of “Caring for Life”. From brining, affordable healthcare to people and focusing on patient centricity, our sustainable future is a natural extension of this purpose and caring for life in all facets of life – nature, people and planet.

Role of leadership: Engage the ecosystem

A survey by BCG covering 86% respondents indicates that the board and leadership should play an active and strong role in sustainability. However only 42% report that their boards are substantially engaged. Today the expectations from a company and the role of the CEO has dramatically changed. It is critical to have leadership who have the mindset to make sustainability their blueprint for business.

Collective action is the key for efficient sustainability practices. The pandemic is an excellent demonstration of engaging the ecosystem and how if we collectively set our minds to finding solutions, everyone wins. Today, there are cross-sector partnerships, such as the Sustainable Markets Initiative and Terra Carta, led by HRH Prince of Wales, help bring together global leaders to address some of world’s most pressing issues. For our part, we are happy to support Terra Carta and look forward to working alongside our peers, other sectors and business leaders to contribute to a sustainable future.

For companies that have already embraced sustainability, this is half the battle won. For those which haven’t, it’s never too late for course correction. In sum, this is the time to take action and chart a road to a sustainable future.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi