In a prestigious development for India at the Rio+20 United Nations Summit at Rio de Janeiro, Indian multi-business conglomerate, ITC Limited, was presented the 2012 World Business and Development Award for its transformational rural initiatives in social and farm forestry programmes in India. The only Indian company to receive this honour at the ongoing historic Rio+20 Summit, this award has been instituted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),the International Chamber of Commerce and the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF) in partnership with the Netherlands Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the UN Global Compact. ITC was among 5 large global companies to win this honour.
Mr. Y C Deveshwar, Chairman, ITC received the Award at a Ceremony held at Rio which was presided over by Helen Clark, Administrator, UNDP, Georg Kell, Executive Director, UN Global Compact, GunillaCarlsson, Minister for International Development Co-operation, Sweden, and the CEO of the IBLF, Clare Melford. Mr Deveshwar in his acceptance address said "I receive this Award with humility and pride, on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of tribals and poor farmers whose lives have been transformed by ITC's Social and Farm Forestry initiative. It gives us tremendous encouragement to witness the global appreciation for this initiative and this recognition will indeed help us in taking this initiative to newer heights." Commenting on the Awards, Georg Kell, Executive Director, UN Global Compact said "Congratulations to the winners of the World Business and Development Awards who have demonstrated that inclusive business models can generate tremendous positive impact on communities.
The UN Global Compact fully supports sustainable, commercially viable business initiatives that expand access for low income people to goods and services and improve livelihoods while generating growth". Minister GunillaCarlsson, Minister for International Development Cooperation, Sweden also pointed out that "Innovation in inclusive business lies at the heart of the fight against poverty. It creates income possibilities and builds bridges between business and people living in poverty. Therefore I am delighted to see that innovation is a common theme for all the WBDA winners. "ITC's social and farm forestry programmes provides sustainable livelihoods to rural wasteland owners by helping convert their wastelands into pulpwood plantations. They are supported by ITC's R&D developed high-yielding, disease resistant clonal saplings with shorter harvesting cycles.
While Farm Forestry focuses on farmers owning wastelands, Social Forestry targets resource-poor tribals and farmers. Currently the programmes cover over 125,000 hectares. It has generated over 56 million person-days of employment. Regenerating green cover on this scale has enabled carbon sequestration making ITC carbon positive for 7 years, besides improving moisture conservation, groundwater recharge and reducing erosion.