Education and Water Resource Management are Critical Areas for Sustainable Development Says BT Index



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New Delhi, November 22, 2010—While public awareness and concern about sustainable development issues are growing, opinion leaders are less optimistic that real progress is being made on sustainable development in India, according to the “BT Sustainable Development (SD) Index – an assessment of business performance in India – 2009-10.”

The BT SD Index, which is in its second year, has been developed in partnership with GlobeScan, an independent public opinion and stakeholder research company. Through a survey of senior opinion leaders across India, the index measures the performance of business and the progression towards sustainable development over time.

This year’s BT SD Index reveals that while corporate performance in India continues to be strongest on ensuring long-term economic growth, sustainability issues such as water resource management have emerged as the most urgent issues needing attention in India. Education (79%), health/healthcare and long-term economic growth (73% each), and climate change (71%) are also seen as critical issues needing attention.

Commenting on the Index, Dr. R. K. Pachauri, Director General, TERI, said, “Major social challenges can’t be addressed by only governments and NGOs; the role of business is crucial. While India Inc are facing the issues of Sustainable Development head on, there is still a long road ahead. Businesses can’t succeed in societies that fail.”

Speaking about the findings, Mr. Arun Seth, Chairman, BT India said, “As India moves ahead to the next stage of its social and economic transformation, it is paramount that critical investment is made into tackling the issues of sustainable development. While both government and business have realised the urgency of this action, there is still much more activity and development of this area that needs to be undertaken to ensure ‘real change’ and forward progress.” Seth continued, “Both government and corporations are now engaging in the dialogues and creating the platforms that will hopefully provide the greatest potential for making progress on the majority of sustainable development issues.”

Indian companies are taking positive steps towards sustainable development, though opinion is divided as to whether companies are truly committed or just “greenwashing.” The overall performance of the corporate sector needs to be more fully developed. Seventy-one per cent of India's opinion leaders surveyed point to a lack of political will, while 55 per cent feel that lack of awareness around sustainable development issues is the main cause of inaction. The study results reflect perceptions and not actual performance.

“Compared to last year, opinion leaders give lower marks to Indian business performance on sustainability. However, they also perceive increased sustainability and CSR activity coupled with a heightened sense of urgency. In this respect India joins other countries where our polling shows a widening gap between expectations and perceived performance of business.” said Doug Miller, Chairman, GlobeScan.

Globally, Japan, the European Union, and the United States are all considered to be making progress on sustainable development by at least half of opinion leaders. India continues with lower ratings as a developing nation, still having much ground to gain on the leaders.

While there are negative views of India’s progress, a majority of Indian leaders feel that the government and companies are taking more action towards sustainable development and anticipate an increase in activity related to corporate social responsibility/sustainability programs within their own organisations in the next 12 months.

Note to Editors

The matrix below plots Opinion Leader’s ratings of performance (horizontal axis) for each of the 12 sustainability criteria areas against the relative importance of the criteria areas (vertical axis).  The greater the “importance” value, the greater the impact of any changes in performance in that area on Opinion Leaders’ overall view of how companies are doing on sustainable development.

About BT

BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications solutions and services operating in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to our customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband and internet products and services and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, Openreach, BT Retail and BT Wholesale. In the year ended 31 March 2010, BT Group’s revenue was £20,911 million.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York. For more information, visit www.bt.com/aboutbt

About GlobeScan

GlobeScan is an international opinion research consultancy. Companies, multilateral institutions, governments, and NGOs trust GlobeScan for its unique expertise in reputation research, sustainability, and issues management. GlobeScan provides global organizations with evidence-based insight and advice to help them build strong brands, manage relations with key stakeholders, and define their strategic positioning. GlobeScan conducts research in over 90 countries, is certified to the ISO 9001:2008 standard for its quality management system, and is a signatory to the UN Global Compact. Established in 1987, GlobeScan is an independent, management-owned company with offices in London, Toronto, and San Francisco. www.GlobeScan.com.

About the Index

The BT Sustainable Development Index is a survey of senior opinion leaders on the economic, environmental and social performance of Indian business and has been developed in partnership with GlobeScan, an independent public opinion and stakeholder research company. A total of 250 senior influential individuals from the academic, corporate, government, media and NGO sectors were interviewed in India. The full BT SD Index report, can be downloaded at: www.btplc.com

For further information:

    BT
    Ines Chin, BT PR Manager, Asia Pacific
    Tel: +852 2532 3647;
    Fax: +852 2810 0164
    Email: ines.chin@bt.com

    Richard Wright, Director, BT Corporate Communications and PR, Asia Pacific
    Tel: +852 2532 3652;
    Fax: +852 2810 0164
    Email: richard.j.wright@bt.com