Dear fellow stakeholders
Welcome to our sustainability report for the year 2015-16, this is our ninth annual sustainability report.
In the world of business, nine years is a long time …especially so in the Information Technology sector where the pace of change can be bewildering even to those expecting rapid change. In contrast, change in social and environmental matters happens more slowly. This is largely due to the complex interlinked nature of the issues and the huge scale involved.
Change in the social sector cannot be brought about by any single agency but happens as a cumulative build-up of several actions taken by multiple stakeholders over a period of time. That is not to say though that at the level of the individual stakeholder, the efforts put in and the corresponding progress cannot be significant. It can be so even over the short-term. And such progress energizes action and continuing commitment on the part of the stakeholder.
The way we see Wipro’s role in social change is to bring in a combination of our core values and a sense of responsible citizenship; this, we think, can make lasting impact, however small that may be when seen against the larger canvas. Let me now present some highlights from our sustainability journey during 2015-16.
Climate Change and Energy: The 2015 Paris agreement on climate change explicitly recognized that the target of containing temperature rise within 2 degree Centigrade may not suffice and that the world must work towards a 1.5 degree C target if we have to be in the safe zone. At Wipro, we have set for ourselves a target of doubling our renewable energy footprint over the five year period of 2016-2020 and reducing our direct greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint by 35%. We have also set broad targets for 2025 and 2030 in line with the 1.5 degree C global goal. This will build on top of the work we have done so far – for example, our twin pillars of energy efficiency and renewable energy have helped save over 350,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the last five years
Livable and Sustainable Cities: More than half the world’s population lives in cities, a figure that will go up to 75% by 2050. While in India, the corresponding figures are lower, our rates of urbanization are faster than the average and it is estimated that more than 600 million people will live in cities in India by 2030. The livability of most of our cities is unfortunately far below global standards as per various surveys. At the very minimum, a livable city must have reasonably clean air, uniform access to clean water and sanitation and good public transportation. We have been engaged on these issues in different ways, both within our operational boundaries and outside.
Let me talk briefly about our work on water. Our project of implementing Nano / ultra-filtration in order to increase the use of treated waste water for our cooling systems has started yielding tangible results and we are seeing a marked difference in freshwater use. We have also been engaged for the last three years in developing a better collective understanding of urban water.
In Bangalore, our ‘Participative Groundwater Management Program’ (PGWM) has completed a detailed mapping of the groundwater aquifer over a 33 Sq. k. m. area around our Sarjapur facility. Alongside, it has brought together experts in urban water, government representatives and citizen groups together to forge a deeper understanding of how to enhance our water self-sufficiency and conserve our water commons. A similar initiative at the level of Bangalore city, the Karnataka State Water Network drives advocacy and actions in five geographical clusters across the city. A sixth horizontal cluster focuses on rejuvenation and restoration of lakes.
Education as a force multiplier: When we started out on our sustainability journey in 2001, we decided to focus on education and communities. We saw education as a powerful force multiplier which has cascading impacts on almost all other areas of development. Since then our work in education has grown in multiple directions covering systemic reforms, engineering education and sustainability education.
I have spoken about our interventions in these areas in our past reports. Here I would like to highlight our work on STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) with schools in the U.S. which we started four years ago. In collaboration with University of Massachusetts, Boston, Mercy College, New York, Montclair State University, New Jersey, and Michigan State University, we have worked with over 350 teachers in 20 school districts to develop their capacities to be better teachers and change leaders in their districts. The real impact though lies in the multiplier effect that will be generated as the teachers and other partner institutions act as agents of lasting change. This program is also a manifestation of one of our principles that one must engage on social issues in every region and geography where we have significant presence
Working with communities everywhere: We work with our proximate communities in the areas of primary health care, children with disability, education for the underprivileged and community ecology through Wipro Cares, a trust funded by employee contributions matched by Wipro. Over the last three years, the scope and scale of our work has increased almost ten-fold. Our work with children with disability now covers most major categories of physical disability and focuses on the entire spectrum from early childhood to high school.
Our approach is integrative, focusing as much on infrastructure and technical aids as on nutrition, teacher capacity in this field and community participation. It is a matter of satisfaction that our work across domains has benefitted more than 300,000 people from underserved and underprivileged across 11 states in India, including remote regions of Nagaland in the North-East. We have also been gradually strengthening our community engagement in the U.S.A, South Africa, Philippines and Singapore. Underlying all this is the power of more than 40000 employees who contribute by way of money, volunteering or both. I realize though that we can do much more on this count and one of our clear focus areas will be to significantly increase employee involvement
In fact I would like to extend this and say that while we have progressed well on many fronts, we can do much more in all areas, be it scaling up our renewable energy footprint, minimizing fresh water use, expanding our network of partners to bring about systemic changes in education and improving our internal processes of governance.
We live in challenging times. Rising inequality, ecological stress and geopolitical dynamics, all feed into each other amplifying each other’s effects. It’s critical therefore that real, genuine leaders come to the fore whether from business, government or civil society.
We must act in consonance and with a clear sense of urgency of purpose. We must also act with a sense of intrinsic hope and faith for it is only this that will ensure that we move forward even in the face of difficulty and obstacles.
With Best Wishes
– Azim H Premji