Vedanta plans to be ESG leader in natural resources sector, says Priya Agarwal Hebbar

Vedanta Resources is committed to becoming carbon neutral, has set itself a net zero target by 2050 and also plans to become an ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) leader in the natural resources sector. Priya Agarwal Hebbar, Non-Executive Director, is a key pillar in strengthening ESG and bringing more forward-looking cultural change to Vedanta. In an interview with Rajiv Tikoo of Outlook Business, Hebbar explains how she lays the foundation for business transformation. Edited excerpts from the interview:

As a diversified natural resource company, how much more difficult is it to achieve a net zero goal? What kinds of opportunities does a net zero goal offer to meet the inherited perception of the natural resource sector?

When the world struggles to maintain ecological balance, it is the duty of big business to help achieve sustainable solutions. Our companies are also committed to adopting sustainable best practices. We are committed to achieving carbon neutrality and achieving a net zero goal by 2050. With this, Vedanta plans to be the ESG leader in the natural resources sector.

Vedanta has pledged $ 5 billion over the next 10 years to accelerate the transition to net zero operations. As part of the process, Vedanta has a new mission statement – “Transform for Good” – to make a meaningful difference in society as a whole. Vedanta’s new positioning is based on three pillars: transforming communities, transforming the planet and transforming the workplace. It reflects Vedanta’s commitment to sustainable growth and development. We aim to strengthen and implement the highest standards of ESG practice in business as a commitment to nation building and the wider good.

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Our energy and carbon policy includes a commitment to significantly decarbonize the business by 2050 in line with India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and the Paris Agreement, and is voluntarily committed to progressing towards the carbon neutrality.

What kinds of skills are needed to pursue the ESG agenda by business leaders?

The right approach, the right philosophy and long-term goals, combined with innovative solutions, are a few elements that act as catalysts in the pursuit of sustainability and the ESG program for any company. The goal of any business is to create long-term value for all stakeholders through the research, discovery, acquisition, sustainable development and use of diverse natural resources. To achieve this, we must give people the means to stimulate excellence and innovation.

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We have always tried to bring a behavior change towards sustainability in all our initiatives. Today, Vedanta’s ESG orientation is recognized around the world. The Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes (DJSI) in the metals and mining sector ranked us 12th in the world in 2020. In addition, Hindustan Zinc was ranked number 1 and Vedanta is number 2 in the DJSI ranking for the Asia region. -Pacific, which is a testament to our best sustainability practices.

We were the first mining and metallurgical company to publish a climate change report under the Climate Related Financial Disclosures Working Group (TCFD). This report considers following up on our other ESG disclosures such as the Sustainability Report, Integrated Annual Report, Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report and Tax Transparency Report and brings greater transparency to our disclosure standards. .

There are many women leaders at the head of the ESG portfolio in their companies. Are women natural leaders who have the skills required in this space?

Women leaders bring crucial management skills and new perspectives to the board and become the driving force behind companies’ ESG strategies. Therefore, companies with a gender diverse workforce visualize and apply sustainable practices more effectively.

Vedanta has always believed in encouraging leadership among its female membership. Since the natural resources and mining sector has always been a very male dominated field, Vedanta places great trust and ownership in our female leaders. Women managers add tremendous value to the company and we are delighted to play our part in making this company a more equal society for both sexes.

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But, we must be aware that ESG, in itself, is a coherent and constructive concept and that it requires equality and equal responsibilities from all stakeholders.

How important are technology and digitization to pushing the ESG agenda forward?

Today, technology and digitization are the key to strengthening our ESG footprint and creating a net zero future. Hindustan Zinc became the first company in the group to become positive for water. Our aluminum, being a “green metal”, builds the fastest vehicles of today and tomorrow due to its light weight and 100% recyclability. We also introduced India’s first digital foundry in our aluminum operations. Our copper also plays a crucial role in digital and energy transformation. We plan to invest $ 1 billion over the next five years to make our mining operations environmentally friendly.

These are, of course, small beginnings and we have a long way to go. What is needed is a collective will and a cohesive plan of action for businesses and nations to work together to co-create a better, safer and greener future for all. It’s time to act. Tomorrow, it will be too late !

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