Our work in India
Forum for the Future opened its India office in Mumbai in 2013, after several years of increasing work on the sub-continent.
India’s need for a sustainable future is plain to see.
The country’s capital is the most polluted on the planet; half its population work on farms already being hit by the impacts of climate change; and many others suffer overcrowded, congested living in fast growing cities plagued by corruption. Heavy dependence on coal makes it a growing cause of global warming, as well as a victim of it.
Yet these challenges are meeting a dynamic response. Indian entrepreneurs are driving rapid progress in renewable energy and water efficiency. Its IT specialists are designing technical breakthroughs for the rural grassroots. Citizens are demanding action and a new government elected with a huge mandate is starting to respond.
For Forum for the Future, all this makes India a fascinating, tough and exciting place to be. We’ve started working with major Indian and foreign companies, helping them identify risks and opportunities and map out a sustainable future.
Working with business in India and Sri Lanka
We are focused on helping companies map a route to a sustainable future: one that is practical, profitable and a pleasure to live in.
Our work has included:
- An ongoing programme of futures work with the Retail and Apparel companies within the Aditya Birla Group (one of India’s largest conglomerates), as they draw up a roadmap with the aim of becoming a sustainability leader;
- Working with MAS – Sri Lanka’s major clothing manufacturer and the island’s largest private employer – on developing an integrated sustainability strategy;
- Carrying out an employee engagement and training programme across the workforce at Mahindra Sanyo;
- Helping Marks and Spencer – which is expanding rapidly in India - develop a stakeholder engagement strategy as they explore how to apply the lessons of their ground breaking ‘Plan A’ approach in India;
- Producing a report on a systems innovation approach to water conservation and restoration for the Hindustan Unilever Foundation, and exploring the potential of coalitions to achieve system-level change in areas such as energy and waste;
- In partnership with local advisory GIST and the Confederation of Indian Industry, we’re launching a programme entitled ‘Beyond 2% - From CSR to Business Success’. Its aim is to help progressive companies integrate their obligatory CSR spend (as required under the new Companies Act) with their core sustainability and business goals.
One of the most exciting and urgent areas for sustainable transformation is energy. Around half India’s population lacks access to reliable electricity supplies. Meeting their needs in a way which cuts carbon and boosts growth is the subject of Forum’s flagship project: India’s Decentralised Energy Future.
Backed by the UK Department for International Development and the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, this major project is a collaborative effort bringing in people from all across the energy spectrum – users, generators, policymakers and regulators, consumers at village and corporate level, innovators and entrepreneurs. The aim is to come up with a shared vision of what India’s energy future could look like in 2047 – 100 years after independence –and in particular, the role that decentralised, low carbon power could play – and what actions need to be taken now to bring that to reality.
India: Innovation Nation
In 2013 we published India: Innovation Nation, a colourful survey of the vast array of action and ideas springing up for greener and fairer business, cities and everyday life. Launching it at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, head of The Energy and Resources Institute and Chair of the UN Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, commented: “It is said that the darkest spot is under the lamp. Forum has helped us discover that spot.”
Innovation Nation followed the earlier Green Futures Special Edition: Monsoons and Miracles – India’s Search for a Sustainable Future (2009).
Forum people in India
Our India work is directed from Mumbai by Martin Wright, with international oversight from David Bent. Our wider ‘Team India’ includes executive assistant Pallavi Ahuja and visiting Forum secondees Sarah Tulej, Anna Warrington and Louise Armstrong. Jonathon Porritt plays a key advisory role, and we have a growing number of local affiliates.
Martin is a regular speaker and chair at major Indian sustainability conferences and events.