It was fitting that the roundtables took place around International Women’s Day in Mumbai.

“If you have so many women at the production level, you should have as many women [proportionately] at the leadership level.”

It highlighted both the global challenges we face but the enormous capacity for change and engagement when business, civil society and investors come together. We know that achieving the SDGs will be impossible without significant contributions from the world’s major economies, including India. As an Alliance we believe our impact is grounded in values of inclusion and diversity and that our efforts must incorporate these global voices. As the financial capital of India and home to many of the country’s major corporations, Mumbai is an especially critical market in which to deepen our understanding of the challenges and opportunities around sustainability, changing corporate behaviour and private sector contributions to the SDGs.

Last month in partnership with the Dutch Consulate of the Netherlands we convened more than 100 people from across business, civil society and the financial sector from India and beyond. Our aim is to drive private sector participation in sustainable development and to keep the focus on where we want companies to be in 2030 and beyond. This is all about collaboration so we listened and learned through our shared global and local experiences. We now understand better what is important as a next step to drive real meaningful measurable change.

The day began with speeches from Mr. Bhupen Dubey, CEO of Advanta Seeds, and Ms. Tulika Pandey, Director of Digital Village & Cyber Security at the Indian government’s Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology. Gerbrand Haverkamp, Executive Director of WBA focused on the systemic change and collaboration needed for a sustainable future by linking corporate benchmarks to the seven system transformations. We also kick-started the discussions for three of the benchmarks we are developing this year: Gender Equality & Empowerment, Digital Inclusion and Food & Agriculture.

“Creating an understanding of nutrition security and its criticality for present and future generations is urgent.”

We listened: we learned

We’ve written a summary of all the roundtables highlighting the different conversations and key takeaways. The digital inclusion roundtable focused on how a company-level benchmark can accelerate corporate contributions to inclusive and sustainable services across four areas: material access, use, skills and innovation. An important takeaway was that benchmarks need to capture actions that go beyond business as usual in order to differentiate the true leaders and laggards. Read the full report.

One of the biggest questions of our time is: can we feed a world population fast approaching 10 billion people with a healthy diet without depleting our planet? Following on from the EAT-Lancet Commission published earlier this year we started the conversation about the development of the Food & Agriculture benchmark. The roundtable generated discussion around how the EAT-lancet targets can be translated to a regional context and how the private sector can help tackling these challenges in the environmental, healthy diet and social space. Read more about the conversation.

A few months ago, we published the scoping report of the Gender Equality & Empowerment Benchmark and in Mumbai we were able to focus on two very specific questions. Which industry should the benchmark prioritise and which thematic areas are ‘must haves’. Through an interactive workshop, the group concluded the Apparel industry was the top priority. Find out why here.

“Technology has the capacity for global disruption and transformation.”

We want to hear from you. For any feedback or questions, please reach out to our benchmarks leads.