New Delhi– Recognising the need to comprehensively address the challenge of global warming, a climate risk modelling exercise using advanced analytics was undertaken at a pan ITC level, which was subsequently followed up with site-specific and agri value chain-specific assessments so as to sharp target adaptation actions. Based on such studies, appropriate site-specific interventions are being progressed, said Sanjiv Puri, Chairman and Managing Director, ITC Ltd.

In the Company’s 112th AGM address, Puri shared his vision on ITC: Nation First – Transforming for our Shared Tomorrows.

To build resilience against the growing threat of extreme weather events, ITC has initiated several purposeful adaptation measures to secure physical infrastructure and de-risk agri-value chains.

“Given the deep linkages of ITC’s businesses to agriculture, we have invested substantially in pursuing adaptation through innovative nature-based solutions in view of its effectiveness in building resilience of farming and rural communities. These include afforestation, biodiversity, CSA and water stewardship. The afforestation initiative today sequesters nearly 6 million tonnes of CO2e annually,”Puri said.

“ITC’s biodiversity conservation initiatives have restored over 2,90,000 acres in 12 states and we intend to cover 1 million acres by 2030. Under the water stewardship initiatives, the integrated watershed development programme has covered over 1.4 million acres with 28,000 water harvesting structures,” he said.

The demand-side management programme undertaken in 1.2 million acres has led to water usage efficiencies of 20-45 per cent across 15 crops, resulting in water savings potential of 780 million kilolitres.

ITC has now embarked upon an ambitious plan of achieving water positive status at river basin level that will also benefit local ecosystems. The success achieved in making the Ghod river basin water positive in a span of 5 years has emboldened us to implement 4 more such river regeneration projects.

ITC has also committed to pursuing Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) certification for all high water stressed sites by 2035.

Recently, ITC’s unit at Malur has become Asia’s first food factory to be awarded the AWS Platinum level certification, which follows a similar achievement for our Paperboards Unit in Kovai.

ITC’s CSA programme de-risking farmers from extreme weather events

ITC’s Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) programme aims to de-risk farmers from extreme weather events. Multiple initiatives have been taken to promote regenerative agriculture with a package of agronomy practices, high-yielding and climate-resilient varieties as well as appropriate mechanisation. Today, the programme has already covered over 2.3 million acres, against the target of 3 million acres, benefiting more than 7,40,000 farmers, Puri said.

It is encouraging to note from an assessment of the first phase of CSA districts that GHG emissions of select crops reduced between 13-66 per cent and net returns to farmers increased by 46-93 per cent. Also, 70 per cent of the villages have moved into the High-Resilience, High-Yield category.

ITC has made tremendous progress on decarbonisation. Despite a growing operational footprint, nearly 43 per cent of ITC’s total energy consumption is from renewable sources. Investments in solar, wind and biofuels have contributed to an installed capacity of 178 MW.  ITC is also a pioneer in the green building movement with 49 LEED certified buildings, Puri said.

Contributing to Circularity, ITC has been plastic neutral for the second consecutive year.

ITC remains committed to developing newer technology pathways. Towards this end, partnerships have been forged with leading research organisations to develop viable energy storage systems, decarbonise cold chains and improve prediction modelling for generation of renewable energy.

Paperboards, Paper and Packaging Business is an acknowledged icon of environmental stewardship, with focus on decarbonisation, sequestration and livelihood generation. The recent state-of-the-art High-Pressure Recovery Boiler commissioned at Bhadrachalam will reduce coal usage by one-third while improving ITC’s share of renewable energy by 6 per cent, Puri said.

The ITC Next framework mainstreams sustainability as an integral part of business strategy to leverage emerging opportunities, build resilience and competitiveness, whilst pursuing a bold agenda for adaptation and mitigation. Substantial investments have been directed towards establishing green infrastructure, expanding renewable energy, enabling higher resource efficiency, promoting sequestration and nature-based solutions and in embedding circularity in business models.

ITC sustained its ‘AA’ rating by MSCI-ESG for the 5th consecutive year reinforcing its leadership amongst peers. It is a matter of pride that our innovative initiatives have enabled ITC to be the only company of its size to achieve the global environmental distinction of being carbon, water and solid waste re-cycling positive for over 18, 21 and 16 years respectively, Puri said. (IANS)