Caritas India at the CSR LiveWeek Summit

When inequalities are on the rise and opportunities like employment for the poor shrinking, ‘profit’ without people’s participation and environmental protection cannot make development sustainable”.

“Business needs to go beyond the interest of their companies, to the communities they serve”, said Mr. Ratan Tata. This has a profound relation to what the landmark the National Voluntary Guidelines, set out to do. The NVGs, adopted by the Government of India, most progressive developments of our time, enshrine commitments to social (people), environment (planet) and business (profit) through a principle-based framework for ‘Business Responsibility’. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have aptly adopted Goal 17 on partnerships, which is required for attaining all the Goal as mutually reinforcing. Though legally non-enforceable, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in 2012, mandated NVGs based reporting for top 100 Companies. The NVGs present an opportunity for businesses to operate beyond 2%, impact lives positively, respect and promote human rights and protect environment, towards inclusive and equitable development (nine principles), highlighted Ms. Lee Macqueen, Advocacy & Child Rights Manager, in her Special Address at the CSR LiveWeek, on May 22-23, World Trade Centre, Mumbai

When inequalities are on the rise and opportunities like employment for the poor shrinking, ‘profit’ without people’s participation and environmental protection cannot make development sustainable. The people within the supply chains and those biodiversity dependent communities have greater stakes, for they have much to lose. And while the sidestepping of these considerations has made the companies a subject of criticism, the civil society for highlighting the same issues is having to struggle to preserve the sanctity and repute of their mass-base in the face of shrinking civil society space, said Ms. Lee.

The SDGs gave a clarion call of Leave No One Behind and reducing the inequalities between communities and among nations. She emphasised on the criticality of measuring the impact of business on people and environment through the lens of social inclusion and justice within core business and CSR initiatives. This is where mutually edifying and ethical partnership can help shape CSR initiative than just engaging in corporate-sponsored development work. “Platforms such as the CSR Summit are important to dispel the darkness of mistrust between the CSR and CSOs,” underscored Dr. Saju MK, West Zone Region Manager.

Partnership is the modus operandi for Caritas India, the focus remains on reducing the underlying risk and vulnerability factors of the people and ecosystem, through people led approaches. Ms. Lee shared about the meaningful partnerships with the Government and CSR, such as the Rolls Royce, Tata Trust and NDTV, HCL and Aarti Foundation towards quality education with basic amenities in public schools, health, and hygiene, hazard-resistant housing, psychosocial care initiatives with children post disasters, elimination of malaria, rehabilitation of PLHIV/AIDs and so on. Empowerment animation, Volunteering, Dialoguing (with duty bearers, communities, and nature) and Promoting Giving Communities would be the strategic pillars of intensifying Caritas’ interventions, she informed.

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity. It is an act of justice”, concluded Ms. Lee with the quote of Nelson Mandela, stating the long road ahead that Government, CSR, and CSOs together have to traverse in this direction, with a true partnership of people and other stakeholders.

Besides the special address and panel discussion on CSR & SDGs and their contribution in social impact, Caritas India also exhibited her thematic areas and scope of partnership in the exhibition stall. Climate Adaptive Sustainable Agriculture & Livelihood one of the thematic areas of Caritas India was also featured in the CSR Good book released during the event.