​Anand Mahindra: Environment and business goals are closely interlinked

by Ajit Dalvi 10 Aug 2021


Climate change is upon the world and how. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued a warning that human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the Working Group's report is nothing less than "a code red for humanity,” adding that the internationally-agreed threshold of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels of global heating is "perilously close.” We are at imminent risk of hitting 1.5 degrees in the near-term. The only way to prevent exceeding this threshold is by urgently stepping up our efforts, and pursuing the most ambitious path.

Climate change and the environment was among the topics that Anand Mahindra, Chairman of the Mahindra Group, spoke about at Mahindra & Mahindra’s 75th annual general meeting, held virtually on August 7. Mahindra, who is among more than 70 global members of The Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, spoke about the growing connect and social impact of business and the environment.  

He said, “Our core purpose was rearticulated in to one word – Rise. In line with this purpose, our strategy is driven by the conviction that there is only one mantra to build a sustainable business and a sustainable world . . . and that is ESG – Environment. Social. Governance. ESG is today the compass that guides us. The common theme that emerges is that as a business group we have aligned ourselves to the needs of the nation and increasingly of the woorld in every era. This has been so since our founding 75 years ago. The same ‘Power of Purpose’ drives us 75 years later.

“Why is the Power of Purpose so important for business success today? I think the lessons of the pandemic have bought out the lessons all too clearly. First, the pandemic has taught us how we are all inter-related, how there can be no safety for one until there is safety for all. There is alignment between self-interest and caring for others.

“The second lesson from the pandemic is how much our lifestyle degrades the environment. Within a few days of the lockdown, grey skies turned blue, the air became breathable and we heard birdsong once again. If we are to enjoy the beauty of the world and remain healthy, we must not forget this lesson.

“The third lesson is a psychological one. The pandemic has brought home to us that the future is uncertain and that life is fragile. Many people have coped with the crisis by living in the moment.  But as the crisis recedes, people will start living for the moment. That means valuing experiences and gratifying long-held desires. The experience could mean the joy of buying a new car to drive into the country or making time to enjoy a weekend by the ocean with the family. There will be an explosion of the experience economy and we must care for people and planet to create safe and healthy experiences.

“The future of business lies in serving this economy. Linking business to a larger purpose of caring for people and the planet so as to positively impact their lives will be the magic mantra for business success. I would go so far as to say people plus planet equals profits. To me, the true value of a company is the multiplier effect it creates.

“There is a quiet revolution taking place in the business world. Today there is irresistible pressure on companies to create share value … to do business in a way that enhances the quality of life and the world. Major global financiers now insist on evidence that companies have a strong focus on ESG before they disburse funds for growth. Business can no longer live in a bubble, isolated from the rest of society.

"Can social impact be measured? There is a G7 Task Force, of which I am a member, that is also developing methodologies to measure impact. The rules of the game have changed. Social and environmental impact has been a driving force for us from the days of our first advertisement to our present-day philosophy of ‘Rise’. What remains is measuring the impact in a scientific way.

"The Mahindra Group has driven economic activity worth US$42 billion in FY2021. More importantly, it has created social and environmental impact worth US$4 billion in FY2021 alone. We have made 10 very specific commitments which we enable us to take pole position in the ESG space. Every one of these 10 commandments articulates a bold, measurable goal such as carbon neutrality by 2040, 100 of our sites being zero land waste to landfill certified. We have already planted 90 million trees under our project Hariyali and it also speaks for our belief and our goal that we have already achieved water positivity as a group. We are well on our way to achieving other goals. We want to achieve much more than this by our 100th birthday. Our goal is to make the Mahindra Group a world leader in ESG.”

In June this year, Anand Mahindra, along with 70 global members of The Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, called on G7 leaders to accelerate credible net-zero and climate commitments, policies and actions and urged them to work together with the private sector for bolder actions on shared ambitions within a more ambitious policy framework. Mahindra had said: “We must widen the arc of climate action among the corporations of the world. A marketplace for low carbon technologies and climate funds will create a virtuous cycle. Governments and corporates must work together to achieve this.”

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