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Centre for Public Policy with IITians for Influencing India’s Transformation jointly host the ‘Water and Sustainability Conference’ on 2nd and 3rd September

Sessions focussed on India’s vulnerability to climate change and delved into initiatives that can help resolve issues arising due to scarcity of water

4 September, 2023, Bengaluru: The Centre for Public Policy (CPP) at IIM Bangalore, in association with IITians for Influencing India’s Transformation (IIT-IIT), hosted the ‘Water and Sustainability Conference’ on 2nd and 3rd September 2023. The two-day conference, part of IIM Bangalore’s Golden Jubilee Year celebrations, was themed on, ‘Measurable Impact, Delivered with Confidence’.

Highlighting the phenomenon of alarming temperature changes, the sessions at the conference emphasized on India’s vulnerability to climate change, delving into the initiatives that can create impact and help in resolving the issues arising due to scarcity of water. 

In his welcome address, Prof.Trilochan Sastry, faculty of the Decision Sciences area, IIMB, said that the Centre for Public Policy was working towards equitable, inclusive and sustainable solutions to emergent problems. “The twin objectives of the centre to influence policy discourse and improve governance are achieved through rigorous research and stakeholder engagement across domains. In our mission to create positive change, we have mobilized four critical pillars of support: dedicated frontline workers driving action on the ground, efficient operations and management teams, insights from scholars and practitioners, and crucial financial backing from CSR groups and HNIs. Our focus is not just on saving water and trees; it is about empowering people and enriching lives across the country. The ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life for people all over India."

The first day of the conference saw deliberation on water rejuvenation initiatives and the role played by NGO’s, philanthropists, academicians and CSR initiatives led by corporate enterprises. The impactful on-ground initiatives of Caring Friends and Consortium of Foundations on water transformation from their project in Beed district, Asian Paints’ Mysore Watermark project dedicated to water rejuvenation and ITC’s Water Stewardship Mission were presented, showcasing the impact of collaborative work in this space. 

Speaking about ‘Water Imperatives for India’, Mridula Ramesh, Founder, Sundaram Climate Institute and author of ‘Watershed’, pointed out that addressing India's vulnerability to climate change requires recognizing the enduring significance of water in people’s lives. “Beyond policies, it is embedded in our culture. Historically, places like Bowli served as social hubs, emphasizing water's significance. Even if emissions halt, global warming persists due to climate inertia. Water's vital role in managing this crisis cannot be underestimated; it transcends policy. Embracing climate tech start-ups is vital; they hold the key to solving our water challenges in this era of climate inertia.”

Talking about industry importance of the Water and Sustainability initiative, Joe Roque Fernandes, Co-founder and President, IIT-IIT, said, “We stand at the confluence of sectors, where magic is born through time and maturity. From CSR to ESG and especially sustainability, the journey of development remains steadfast. NGOs, enablers and government schemes have matured, operating at an impressive scale. In this journey, technology serves as our communication catalyst fostering rapid learning and collaborations across our diverse nation. We aim to create a multiplier effect by transforming water’s connection with society.”

In the panel discussion, Amit Chandra, Chairman, Bain Capital and anchor of philanthropic activities, ATE Chandra Foundation, said, "In a relentless pursuit of solving the persistent water crisis, our collaborative efforts have widened the scope, including government partnerships to address the scale of the issue. We are on a mission to rejuvenate water bodies across the nation, with a commitment to sharing knowledge and resources through a multilingual library. There is a need of various stakeholders to join hands and facilitate cross-pollination of their learnings and experiences so that we can stabilize this crisis within about five years, and then prioritize other pressing issues."

Panelists on the first day of the conference included Sanjiv Phansalkar, Director, VikasAnvesh Foundation; Ravi Mariwala, Founder and Managing Director, Smaart Water; Deepti Kommera, Independent Advisor and Consultant, Water Conservation and Regenerative Agriculture; Anuj Sharma, CEO, Arghyam; Sharachchandra Lele, Distinguished Fellow, Environmental Policy and Governance, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment; Amit Kumar Singh, Associate VP & Group Head – Corporate Affairs & CSR, Asian Paints; Vijay Vardhan Vasireddy, General Manager, ITC Social Investments, and Ajith Radhakrishnan, Senior Specialist, World Bank.

On Day 2, Satyajit Bhatkal, CEO, Paani Foundation, spoke on ‘Realizing the Farmers Producers Organizations’ Opportunity’. His talk was followed by a presentation by Ambuja Cement Foundation. The Centre for Collective Development made a presentation on: ‘Processed Groundnut B2B Market Linkages’. The closing address was delivered by Kris Gopalakrishnan, Chairman, Axilor Ventures and Co-founder Infosys.