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Charting a Sustainable Course: The Evolving Landscape of Sustainability in India

India finds itself at a critical juncture. Its economy is rapidly ascending, powered by a growing population and technological advancements. However, this growth comes at a significant cost. The nation’s swift development strains its natural resources and environment heavily. The consequences of unchecked growth manifest as rising air and water pollution, depleting natural resources, and more frequent extreme weather events.

In this article, we explore India’s continuously evolving concept of sustainability and its critical role in ensuring the nation’s future economic and social prosperity.

Through key trend observations and analysis of real-life examples, we will shed light on the anticipated changes that will shape India’s sustainability journey.

India’s Sustainability Imperative

India’s population has become the world’s most populous nation. This demographic surge and rapid urbanization and industrialization create a massive demand for resources and energy. Unsustainable practices in agriculture, waste management, and resource extraction further exacerbate the challenges.

The environmental consequences are stark. India ranks third globally regarding air pollution, with major cities like Delhi regularly shrouded in smog. Water scarcity is a growing concern, with many regions facing severe water stress. These environmental challenges pose a threat to public health and hinder economic development by impacting agricultural productivity and tourism.

Importance of Sustainability: Building a Resilient Future

Sustainability offers a path forward for India’s continued growth and prosperity. It encompasses responsible management of environmental, social, and economic resources to ensure their viability for future generations. By embracing sustainable practices, India can:

Sustainable resource management practices

The Rise of ESG and Regulatory Frameworks

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations have gained significant traction in India in recent years. ESG encompasses a company’s performance on environmental impact, social responsibility, and corporate governance metrics. This shift has been driven by:

  • Growing investor awareness

Investors are increasingly prioritizing ESG factors alongside financial performance when making investment decisions. This trend is particularly evident among millennials and Gen Z, who are more environmentally and socially conscious.

  • Regulatory developments

Regulatory bodies like the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) have mandated Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (BRSR) for the top 100 listed companies by market capitalization. This requirement outlines ESG disclosure requirements, prompting companies to report on their environmental impact, social initiatives, and governance practices.

The perception of ESG has undergone a significant shift in India. Previously seen as a compliance exercise, ESG is now recognized as a strategic imperative for long-term business success. Companies actively integrate ESG principles into their core strategies to attract responsible investors, mitigate risks, and enhance brand reputation.


Detailed Explanation of ESG: Principles and Practices

ESG Principals and factors

Case Studies: Leading the Way in ESG Integration


Several Indian companies have successfully embedded ESG practices into their operations, experiencing considerable benefits that resonate across their businesses and communities, proving that integrating ESG principles supports sustainability and enhances a company’s competitiveness and appeal to socially conscious investors and consumers.

Here’s a deeper look into how these companies are making significant strides:

ITC Limited: Pioneering Sustainable Practices

ITC Limited, a diversified conglomerate in India, has been at the forefront of the ESG integration and committed significant investments towards sustainable practices:

  • Sustainable Forestry

ITC has developed over 300,000 hectares of plantations under its Social and Farm Forestry initiatives, helping sequester atmospheric CO2 while providing raw materials for its paper production. This initiative supports over 160,000 rural households, aligning with its goal to support community livelihood.

  • Renewable Energy

By 2020, ITC ensured that approximately 41% of its total energy consumption came from renewable sources. The company has invested in wind, solar, and biomass energy, enhancing its sustainability quotient and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

  • Water Stewardship

ITC has achieved a net positive water balance for over a decade, creating rainwater harvesting structures with over 34 million cubic meters of storage capacity. Their integrated watershed development projects have effectively brought critical water resources to water-stressed areas.

Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL): Reducing Environmental Impact

Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) has set an exemplary model for minimizing environmental impact through robust ESG frameworks:

  • Waste Reduction

HUL has committed to making 100% of its plastic packaging reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025 and has already reduced over 5,000 tonnes of plastic waste annually.

  • Water Conservation

Through its ‘Water Smart’ initiative, HUL has helped save millions of liters annually by optimizing processes and engaging communities in water conservation practices.

  • Sustainable Sourcing

More than 80% of HUL’s agricultural raw materials are sustainably sourced, ensuring environmental sustainability and fair practices in its supply chain.

  • Social Responsibility

The Fair & Lovely Foundation rebranded as ‘Glow & Lovely Careers,’ has empowered over 1.5 million women through education and career development since its inception.

Tata Motors: Commitment to Clean Mobility

Tata Motors is driving change in the automotive sector by committing to reduced carbon emissions and enhanced sustainable practices:

  • Electric and Hybrid Vehicles

Tata Motors is investing heavily in electric vehicle (EV) technology, with plans to launch ten new EV models by 2025. The company has seen a surge in demand for its Nexon EV, which became the best-selling electric car in India in 2020.

  • Emission Reductions

Tata Motors’ plants have achieved ISO 50001 certification for energy management systems, contributing to a 38% reduction in specific carbon emissions since 2012.

  • Energy Efficiency

Through various energy-efficiency measures, such as using regenerative energy systems and adopting LED lighting, Tata Motors has significantly reduced its energy consumption per vehicle manufactured by over 10% annually.

These real life stories showcase how integrating ESG practices supports environmental sustainability, drives innovation, fosters social responsibility, and contributes to economic resilience, setting a benchmark for other companies to follow.

Regulatory Developments: Shaping Corporate Behavior

The role of regulatory frameworks in advancing sustainability in India cannot be overstated. In addition to the SEBI’s BRSR requirements, various other regulatory measures have been implemented to encourage sustainable business practices:

Regulatory Developments: Shaping Corporate Behavior

These regulations create a legal framework that compels companies to reconsider their environmental impact, thus embedding sustainability more plunging into the corporate fabric of India.

Aligning with Industry Leaders: The Evolving View of Sustainability

Indian entrepreneurs are increasingly recognizing the strategic significance of sustainability. Here’s a glimpse into their perspectives, sharing insights that resonate with the evolving view of sustainability: it is no longer seen as a peripheral concern but as a core element of strategic planning and operational excellence, driving innovation and ensuring long-term profitability.

Adani Group Mahindra Group

ESG Investment Trends and Green Finance: Capitalizing on Conscious Capital

The shift towards ESG-focused investment strategies has marked a significant turning. Increasingly, investors are channeling funds into ventures that promise economic returns and environmental and social value. The growth of green finance is particularly noteworthy, characterized by:

  • Green Bonds

India’s green bond market has thrived, with proceeds typically used to fund renewable energy, low-carbon transport, and water management projects.

  • Sustainable and Responsible Investment Funds

These funds invest in companies that meet specific ESG criteria, allowing investors to contribute to positive change while seeking financial returns.

  • Impact Investing

Focused on addressing social and environmental issues, impact investments attract a growing number of private and institutional investors interested in generating measurable social impact alongside financial returns.


These financial instruments and investment vehicles are critical in mobilizing the capital necessary to address India’s sustainability challenges while providing attractive returns for investors.

ESG Investment Trends and Green Finance

These financial instruments and investment vehicles are critical in mobilizing the capital necessary to address India’s sustainability challenges while providing attractive returns for investors.

Real-World Examples: Paving the Way for Change


Automotive Industry: Electric Vehicles Powering a Cleaner Future

India’s automotive industry, a significant contributor to air pollution, is undergoing a metamorphosis, transitioning towards electric vehicles (EVs). A multitude of forces fuels this transformation:

  • Pollution Concerns

India faces a critical public health challenge due to severe air pollution. A staggering 14 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in India, according to a 2023 report by IQAir Transportation is a primary culprit, with conventional gasoline and diesel vehicles spewing harmful pollutants like nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. These pollutants contribute to respiratory illnesses, heart disease, and even premature deaths. Studies by the World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that air pollution is responsible for over 1.2 million deaths in India annually.

  • Government Incentives

Recognizing the urgency for cleaner transportation, the Indian government has launched a multi-pronged attack on air pollution. The Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles in India (FAME) scheme is a critical weapon in this arsenal. Launched in 2015, FAME has undergone several iterations, with the current version – FAME-II – offering financial incentives for both EV manufacturers and consumers. These incentives include demand subsidies that bring down the upfront cost of EVs, making them more accessible to a broader range of buyers. Additionally, the government is investing heavily in creating a robust charging infrastructure network across the country.

  • Shifting Consumer Preferences

Indian consumers are displaying a growing environmental consciousness. A 2022 Deloitte survey revealed that 72% of Indian consumers are willing to pay a premium for sustainable products. This eco-awareness extends to the transportation sector, with a burgeoning demand for cleaner alternatives like EVs. Consumers are increasingly drawn to the environmental benefits of EVs, coupled with the lower operating costs associated with electricity compared to traditional fuels.

Leading the Charge: Mahindra & Mahindra Electrifies India

Mahindra & Mahindra, a prominent Indian automaker, is an example of the industry’s shift towards EVs. They are spearheading this transformation through a three-pronged strategy:

  • Investing in Cutting-Edge EV Technology

Mahindra has invested significantly in research and development (R&D) for electric vehicles. This commitment to innovation is evident in their diverse EV portfolio. They were one of the first movers in the Indian EV space, launching their first electric car, the eVerito, in 2014. Since then, they have continuously expanded their offerings, introducing popular models like the Treo Zor electric rickshaw, a practical and affordable solution for last-mile connectivity in urban areas. Looking ahead, Mahindra is gearing up to launch the much-anticipated XUV400 electric SUV, a feature-rich vehicle expected to disrupt the mainstream SUV segment in India.

  • Setting Ambitious EV Targets

Mahindra demonstrates a solid commitment to a sustainable future by establishing ambitious goals for EV adoption. They have set a clear target of ensuring EVs contribute significantly to their total vehicle sales by 2027. They aim for EVs to account for at least 25% of their overall sales volume within the next few years. This ambitious target reflects their unwavering belief in EVs’ potential and commitment to contributing to a cleaner transportation landscape in India.

  • Building a Robust EV Ecosystem

Mahindra recognizes that the success of EVs goes beyond just manufacturing vehicles. They are actively involved in fostering a robust ecosystem that supports the widespread adoption of EVs. This includes collaborating with other industry players, such as battery manufacturers and charging infrastructure companies. By forging strategic partnerships, Mahindra ensures the seamless availability of essential infrastructure – like charging stations – and advanced battery technology, which are crucial for overcoming range anxiety and driving mass EV adoption.

The results of these efforts are already becoming apparent. In the 2022-23 fiscal year, we have witnessed a phenomenal surge in electric two-wheeler sales in India, surpassing a staggering 5.4 million units, representing a 204% growth compared to the previous year. This remarkable growth signifies a significant shift in consumer preferences and underscores the immense potential of EVs to revolutionize India’s transportation sector, paving the way for a cleaner and more sustainable future.

Electric Vehicles Powering a Cleaner Future

Renewable Energy Sector: Powering Progress with Clean Energy

India’s renewable energy sector is experiencing an unprecedented boom. Fueled by ambitious government targets and a significant drop in solar and wind power costs, the industry is poised to play a pivotal role in India’s energy transition away from fossil fuels.

  • Government Ambitions

The Indian government has set a monumental target of achieving a staggering 500 GW of installed renewable energy capacity by 2030. This ambitious goal represents a more than threefold increase from the current capacity of around 175 GW (as of May 2024). This aggressive target demonstrates the government’s unwavering commitment to clean energy and its determination to reduce India’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.

  • Economic Advantages

Renewable energy offers a compelling financial proposition for India. The cost of solar power has witnessed a dramatic decline in recent years, plummeting by over 80% in the past decade; this dramatic cost reduction makes solar power a highly competitive alternative to traditional fossil fuels, especially for a nation with abundant sunshine like India. Additionally, renewable energy projects create new job opportunities, particularly in rural areas, fostering economic development and social upliftment.

Renewable Energy Sector: Powering Progress with Clean Energy

Leading the Change: Tata Power and Adani Green Energy Light Up the Future

India’s renewable energy sector boasts a constellation of leading players. Two prominent examples are Tata Power and Adani Green Energy, companies that are spearheading the clean energy revolution:

Tata Power: A Legacy of Sustainability

Tata Power, a household name in India, has a long and distinguished history in the energy sector. The company has made significant investments in renewable energy sources, particularly solar and wind power, recognizing the importance of sustainability. They have established themselves as a leading developer of large-scale renewable energy projects across India. For instance, Tata Power commissioned a mammoth 1050 MW solar power plant in Pavagadh, Gujarat, one of the world’s largest single-site solar power plants These large-scale projects contribute significantly to India’s renewable energy capacity, helping the nation move closer to its ambitious clean energy goals.

Adani Green Energy: Pioneering Renewable Energy Solutions

Adani Green Energy, a subsidiary of the Adani Group, is another major force driving India’s renewable energy transformation. The company focuses on developing, acquiring, operating, and maintaining renewable energy power plants nationwide. Adani Green Energy boasts a rapidly growing portfolio of renewable energy assets, with a strong presence in solar and wind power generation. Their commitment to innovation is evident in their exploration of cutting-edge technologies like offshore wind farms, which hold immense potential for harnessing clean energy from the vast wind resources available off India’s coastline.

The positive impact of these efforts is undeniable. India’s renewable energy capacity has witnessed a phenomenal growth trajectory in recent years. As of May 2024, renewable energy sources account for over 40% of India’s total installed power generation capacity This rapid progress signifies India’s commitment to clean energy and its determination to build a more sustainable future.

Adani Green Energy

Expected Changes and the Road Ahead

The future of sustainability in India promises significant changes across various sectors. Here’s a glimpse of what we can expect:

  • Stricter Regulations

Regulatory frameworks for ESG reporting and environmental impact assessment will likely become more stringent, pushing companies toward greater transparency and accountability.

  • Technological Innovation

Technological advancements in renewable energy, resource management, and waste reduction will accelerate India’s sustainability journey.

  • Shift in Consumer Preferences

Consumers increasingly prioritize sustainable products and services as environmental awareness rises, driving businesses to adopt eco-friendly practices.

  • Focus on Circular Economy

The concept of a circular economy, where resources are reused and recycled, will gain traction, minimizing waste generation and promoting resource efficiency.

Building a Sustainable Future: The Role of SVOD Advisory

Navigating this evolving landscape can be complex. SVOD Advisory, a leading business consulting firm, is well-positioned to help companies build robust sustainability frameworks. Our team of experts possesses in-depth knowledge of ESG principles, regulatory requirements, and best practices in corporate sustainability.

We offer a comprehensive range of services, including:

  • Developing ESG reporting strategies aligned with global frameworks.

  • Identifying gaps and implementing sustainable business practices.

  • Helping companies achieve carbon footprint reduction and assisting with green finance initiatives.


By partnering with SVOD Advisory, Indian companies can gain a competitive edge, attract responsible investors, and contribute to a more sustainable future for India.

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