Earlier this month, the Netherlands along with Iceland were hailed as great models of CSR. Co-Founder of cleaning company Method, Adam Lowry said that: “The Netherlands, very specifically, has been pursuing a “cradle to cradle” policy and building out the required infrastructure to support sustainability-minded projects like recapturing used materials from the waste stream to upcycle them back into usable products.”
More recently it was announced that India is to be joining hands with Netherlands to improve its own CSR initiatives. The Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs has inked an agreement with the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation of Netherlands on Corporate Governance and CSR.
The letters of Intent were signed by D.K.Mittal, Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India and HE Bob Hiensch, Netherlands Ambassador to India on behalf of the Government of Netherlands. The Letter of Intent is expected to intensify the existing successful bilateral trade and investment relations between the two countries. The agreement includes exchange of knowledge and information in the areas of Corporate Governance and CSR; enabling organizing events and workshops, bilateral consultation and expert talks; strengthening and deepening a dialogue with and between the stakeholders.
The two sides have agreed upon to establish Working Group and Sub-Groups in the area of Corporate Governance, CSR and other aspects of Corporate Affairs. India is poised at a point where it can get all the help it needs in order to pursue a more ambitious CSR program. The problems that India faces are far removed from the socio-economic structure of the Netherlands. In spite of this, the partnership can prove beneficial to India for many reasons.
- Netherlands, like India, has a great deal of agriculture. Although their model of agriculture is highly mechanized and employs only 2% of the labour force, it provides large surpluses for the food-processing industry and for exports. Boosting agricultural revenue and yield through CSR initiatives can become a key area for focus under this partnership.
- Food processing is another area where they outstrip India in terms of technology. Technology transfer and knowledge-share in this area can prove invaluable to Indian food companies to reduce food waste and ensure optimal preservation of food.
- Industrial activity, like mining generates about 20% of the national product of Netherlands. Again this is an area that India can learn to streamline its operations by adopting more eco-friendly methods.
- Construction amounts to about 6% of Netherlands’ GDP. With India’s vast infrastructural needs, this partnership has potential to become very fruitful. Infrastructure growth in India is not only a necessity, it is also fraught with complications over effective use of land and water.
In the long run, it will do India good to emulate examples of CSR from countries like Netherlands and learn to adapt their methods to serve conditions within the country.