Home / Companies / People /  The world should not forget about action on climate and healthcare: HUL MD Sanjiv Mehta

New Delhi: Sanjiv Mehta, chairman and managing director, Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), India’s top fast moving consumer goods company, said climate crisis and healthcare are the two big lessons that businesses and people the world over must focus on as the world tries to emerge out of the extreme healthcare crisis brought about by the covid-19 pandemic.

“If I have to pick up two big lessons that the world should not forget—one is to accelerate on climate, the other is healthcare," Mehta said.

Mehta was speaking at the All India Management Association’s (AIMA) 65th Foundation Day and 15th National Management Day on Saturday—held virtually, where he was also awarded the JRD Tata Corporate Leadership Award.

“So my urge would be that first, as a world, we have to stop procrastinating and take concrete steps. And as businesses we have to adopt sustainability as a business goal," he said.

Mehta said India can become the affordable healthcare capital of the world, winning a greater share in global API manufacturing.

“And I believe…just like the Y2K crisis, gave a stimulus to the IT industry in the country, the current pandemic could give a real momentum to the healthcare industry in the country. And healthcare we need for our own population, as well as going up the value chain as well as being a major provider of pharmaceutical products to the world. We also realize that by giving up local manufacturing of API or active pharmaceutical ingredients we had done a big disservice to the nation. Going back and starting to manufacturer API's is also very critical. I believe India can really become the affordable healthcare capital," he added.

This, he said, could be a massive growth engine for the country.

Mehta also drew focus on the need for businesses to be more cognizant about their impact on the environment and keep suitability in mind especially as the world over climate change is leading to devastating effects on global weather patterns, causing natural disasters and related economic disruptions.

“…for pandemic we will get a vaccine. We have got a vaccine people will get vaccinated. But for climate there won't be a vaccine. And I think we have to stop procrastinating," he said.

Last year, Unilever—which sells brands such as Dove soaps and Pepsodent oral care products—said it plans to achieve net zero emissions from all its products by 2039. The company also pledged to drive programmes to protect and restore forests, soil and biodiversity among other initiatives. Unilever’s brands will collectively invest €1 billion in a new dedicated Climate and Nature Fund—to be used over the next decade, the company had said.

Mehta also lauded the current US administration’s decision to return to the Paris Accord on climate change.

“I'm so happy that the US administration under president Joe Biden have again come back to the Paris Accord. It was a complete, absolutely wrong step taken by the previous administration. And this is a crisis, which is staring at us. If we are not able to control global warming, then large swaths of land, and many parts of our own country will get under water. And we are talking about devastation not seen earlier," he said.

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