Mahindra Urges Strong Action at the UN Climate Action Summit

“Businesses cannot be divorced from the consequences of climate change”, said, Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra Group as he addressed world leaders, governments, business conglomerates and members of the civil society at the United Nation’s Climate Action Summit in New York on September 23, 2019.

In the face of the worsening climate crisis, the global community came together at the UN Climate Action Summit to decide on new pathways and practical actions that will accelerate the global response toward climate change. The Paris Climate Agreement which was signed by 197 countries in 2015 became a legally-binding treaty and came into force on November 4, 2016. Under the Agreement, each country must determine, plan and regularly report on the contribution that it undertakes to mitigate global warming. The UN Climate Action Summit aims to encourage the countries to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and also develop a realistic plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

Recognizing the key role that companies play in driving progress on the global agenda, Mahindra, who represented the corporate world week urged businesses to take on an urgent and collective course of action in tackling the climate crisis.

Anand Mahindra, who is also a Board member of the UN Global Compact, said, “Businesses are growing increasingly empathetic. Traditionally, the mindset was that the business of business is business and our only goal was to maximize profit. But environmental concerns have significantly changed that perception as we understand the realities of climate change. The reason that most business people are going to change is because we are going to ditch an old dichotomy. It is not sustainability or profit. It is sustainability with profit. I have been voicing one message with monotonous regularity and that is that climate change is the biggest business opportunity of the next decades and we have been experiencing that. To leverage that opportunity we have to embrace the change and enable it, this means flipping the way we look at businesses.”

Key Takeaways from the UN Climate Action Summit

With carbon emissions, temperatures and climate change on the rise, the world came together to drive much-needed action at the Climate Action Summit and the Sustainable Action Summit held between September 23-25, 2019, in New York.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres invited members of the international community to commit to greater ambition in their developmental policies to mitigate the risks associated with climate change.

Here are a few key highlights from the event:

  • 77 countries committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and 70 countries announced that they would boost their Paris Agreement pledges by 2020.
  • 70 countries are planning to come up with tougher Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020, up from just 23 countries before the Summit. These countries put together represent 6.8 percent of global emissions.
  • Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, made a path-breaking pledge to increase the country’s renewable energy production capacity from 175 gigawatts to 450 gigawatts by 2022.
  • A new leadership group, to be led by India and Sweden, was announced at the UN Climate Action Summit to help guide the world's heaviest greenhouse gas emitting industries transition towards a low-carbon economy.
  • India, China, and the European Union promised to deliver tougher carbon-curbing plans in 2020.
  • Philanthropist Bill Gates announced USD 790 million to help small scale food producers who are incredibly vulnerable to changing climate and on whom the food security of many countries depends.
  • Finland aims to become the first industrialized nation to absorb more carbon than it emits.
  • Greece pledged that it would ban single-use plastics by 2021, and committed to closing down all of its lignite (brown coal) fired plants by 2028.

As the Climate Action Summit 2019 came to an end, António Guterres, Secretary-General, UN repeated his appeal and said, “We can win this race. The Summit was a boost, but we are not there yet, we have a long way to go. We need increased action from more countries and businesses.”

Waging War on Plastics

With the international community joining hands to resolve some of the world’s most daunting challenges, the Mahindra Group has once again reinforced its commitment toward the environment, by focusing on waste management with the launch of their latest campaign - #CutTheCrap.

From the Arctic to the Antarctica, plastic debris is found everywhere. According to the World Economic Forum, if plastic waste continues to accumulate at the current rate, by 2050, the weight of plastic in the world’s oceans will exceed the mass of all the fish that live there. By depicting the harmless-looking plastic bag as a weapon of mass destruction, the #CutTheCrap digital film portrays the detrimental effect non-recyclable plastic bags have on the environment. The video will be accompanied by a 360-degree campaign that includes promotion across digital and social media to encourage people to reduce, reuse and recycle waste.

Vivek Nayer, Chief Marketing Officer, Group Corporate Brand, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., said, “Through our new campaign - #CutTheCrap, we are putting our Rise For Good philosophy into action by bringing about greater environmental awareness and societal change. We have consistently focused on highlighting issues concerning the environment to the fore, and waste management is a crucial topic within this. Our aim is not only to sensitize people but to also enable them towards behavioral change.”

Sustainability has been an abiding principle of the Mahindra Group. Aligned with the principles of the circular economy, here are some of the key initiatives by the Mahindra Group for effective waste management:

  • Four lakh tonnes of waste was reused, composted and recycled in 2018, which accounts for 80% of the total waste being generated.
  • Last year, Mahindra had 5 out of only 7 Zero-Waste-to-Landfill (ZWL) factories in the world with >99% diversion of waste (certified by Intertek).
  • The bio-CNG facility in Mahindra World City, Chennai is converting 100% of wet waste to power run CNG vehicles within the city.
  • CERO, a joint venture between Mahindra Accelo and the Metal Scrap Trade Corporation Limited (MSTC) is India’s first authorized vehicle recycling facility that is focused on safely disposing of cars at the end of their lifecycle.
  • Tech Mahindra has stopped using plastic bottles across its campuses globally, and the remaining Group companies are also doing the same.

Join us today and pledge your allegiance to building a greener future by logging on to - http://bit.ly/SiteCutTheCrap.

Another Win for Sustainability

Mahindra Finance has made it to one of the most prestigious global benchmarks for corporate responsibility and sustainability, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), in the Emerging Markets Category for the 7th consecutive year. Mahindra Finance is the only BFSI company from India to be included in the DJSI Emerging Markets category out of the selected 12 Indian companies.

Out of 4500 of the world’s largest companies (by Market Cap), 144 of them were Indian firms, assessed by the DJSI Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) department. This membership is awarded based on an integrated assessment of the organization’s economic, environmental and social performance.

Vinay Deshpande, Chief People Officer, Mahindra Finance, said, “We are delighted to be a part of the prestigious DJSI ranking for the 7th consecutive year. This recognition is an endorsement of Mahindra Finance’s continuous efforts towards driving sustainability. The company through its’ several environmental and social initiatives focuses on giving back to the society more than we take.”

Mahindra Finance has also been ranked 8th on the list of India’s Best Companies to Work For - 2019 and 25 Best Large Workplaces in Asia 2019 by Great Place to Work® Institute.

A Holiday and Much More …

There are a million reasons why Indians love vacationing. According to research by SHRM, (Study for Human Resource Management), people who travel frequently are almost universally more productive, perform better at work and are more satisfied than those who skip taking vacations. With the 39th World Tourism Day being celebrated on September 27, Echo spoke to Kavinder Singh, CEO, and MD, Mahindra Holidays, about the travel trends in India.

Here are a few excerpts from the interview:

How has the Indian traveler evolved with time?

Earlier, travelers used to refer to friends, family, travel magazines and travel agents for advice, suggestions and help with bookings. Today, this process has moved almost entirely online through various digital platforms. This trend is reflected in our business as well. Our website and mobile app, together account for over 80% of the reservations done by members. This enables us to use real-time data analytics to enhance our members' experience. People want to create memorable experiences through their holidays which is why we strive to make every moment magical for our members.

Research shows that travelers are more open to exploring new destinations, and are requesting unique, personalized experiences. How is Mahindra Holidays providing them a combination of both?

We have created holiday destinations by developing resorts in unique locations like Munnar, Binsar, Baiguney, and Madikeri, among others, over the past 23 years. Indians are also willing to spend more for a better, more unique holiday experience and we are stepping up to deliver on this. We have created a bouquet of experiences for our members to enjoy inside and outside our resorts. For example, we recently introduced a one-of-a-kind program for our members called Club M Select which includes exclusive deals across 4,00,000 hotels worldwide, 12,000 plus cruises globally, 60,000 plus excursions in 180 plus cities internationally and dining across 300 fine dining restaurants in the top ten Indian cities. As a part of our experiential offerings we provide access to the Rann festival, Kumbh Mela, cruises, scuba diving, and in-city experiences such as dining on a helipad, micro-lite flying and many more.

Sustainability has been a major guiding force across all Mahindra businesses. Travelers are also choosing sustainable travel options. How has this intersect between business and the planet panning out?

Sustainability comes in various forms and sizes at Mahindra Holidays. It also includes generating employment opportunities and alleviating poverty.

Close to our property at Coorg in Karnataka, there is a tribal village called Surlabi. Here, the people subsist on the sale of local honey, spices and vegetables grown on their land. When our Coorg team realised that the honey produced – locally called Kala – was of a unique variety and was to be found only in this village, we began supporting the villagers.

Last year, around 100 villagers were provided with pots to initiate apiculture. The objective of doing this was to help the villagers to increase the production of honey and thereby, improve their income. And, of course, Club Mahindra also helps the villagers to find buyers for this unique produce.

We are India’s first hospitality company to join the global campaign RE100 and EP100. By signing on to both, we have reinforced our commitment to achieving our renewable energy and energy productivity targets. We believe these initiatives are in alignment with our mission of ‘Good Living, Happy Families’.

We have also begun powering Club Mahindra resorts with solar energy. In its first phase, the project has been implemented across seven resorts in three states and one union territory. This year, we will power four more resorts with solar energy. Over the next 25 years, we predict savings of more than Rs 60 crores in power costs across all eleven resorts. We will continue to adopt sustainable practices to further reduce our carbon footprint. The company was bestowed with the prestigious Golden Peacock Award for Sustainability in 2017 and was also awarded the Certificate of Merit – Challengers Category by Frost & Sullivan and TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) at the 10th edition of ‘Sustainability 4.0 Awards’ for demonstrating effective deployment of Sustainable Development practices within the organization in June 2019.

What is your message on this World Tourism Day?

The Tourism industry has become one of the most important engines for economic and sustainable growth in many countries. Tourism development is no longer a choice or a luxury. It is a necessity for development, diversification of the national economy and the creation of jobs. In addition, it is a tool for bridging the communication and cultural gaps and for disseminating the values of tolerance and openess.

What is the future roadmap and expansion plan for Mahindra Holidays?

We are investing in our future growth with a planned capex of Rs. 1,000 crores to develop new resorts and add 1,500 rooms in the next 3 to 4 years We are developing a 200-room resort in Goa, the fourth Club Mahindra resort in that territory. Our brownfield expansion of 54-room at Ashtamudi, Kerala is completed without disturbing the existing operation. This reflects our optimism about the growth in the Vacation Ownership business model. It also demonstrates our commitment to our members who can access Club Mahindra’s growing resort network in India and globally. We are also expanding our International resort base with over 42 resorts spanning across South East Asia, Scandinavian countries and USA.

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