Erb Research Manager Melissa Zaksek and I were in Delhi earlier this month for the India Centre for Responsible Business’s fourth annual International Sustainability Standards Conference.

International standards have traditionally been developed by western brands, labor groups and/or nonprofits, many times with limited input from the farms and factories that eventually have to fulfill them – be it in India, China, Latin America, or many other countries around the globe. The CRB ISS provides a platform for discussion of the unique Indian perspective on these myriad standards – what works in India; how could standards be adapted to work better; where is sustainability headed in India; and how can international standards respond?

Melissa and I hosted a panel on innovation and sustainability, with speakers from Tata, Mahindra, GIZ, UNEP, and CSR Europe. We also had a series of discussions with CSO Tony Henshaw of Aditya Birla Group about their emerging model of sustainability management, and joined in CRB’s efforts to create a network of Indian and international universities for research on sustainability in the Indian context. Most importantly, we heard first-hand about the special challenges and opportunities of “doing” sustainability in the world’s largest (and sometimes chaotic) democracy, a very different context for getting things done than the China context that typically receives much more international attention.

Erb is working to develop a partnership with CRB, and we welcome your suggestions. And let us know if we can share any of our learnings, contacts or tools from the conference to help you with research or project work on sustainability in India!

This event was picked up in other media as well: