CSR FOR COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS DISEASE)
The dramatic spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) has disrupted lives, livelihoods, communities and businesses worldwide. All stakeholders, especially global business, must urgently come together to minimize its impact on public health and limit its potential for further disruption to lives and economies around the world.
But the sum of many individual actions will not add up to a sufficient response. Only coordinated action by business, combined with global, multistakeholder cooperation – at exceptional scale and speed – can potentially mitigate the risk and impact of this unprecedented crisis.
In 2019, less than 10% of business leaders from G20 and OECD countries considered the spread of infectious diseases as a looming global risk. Nor were companies anticipating that a pandemic might test their public reputation.
Corporate Social Responsibility for COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease)
The spread of COVID-19 demands global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community. This multistakeholder cooperation is at the centre of Earth5R’s project Global Sustainability Hub.
In this context, Earth5R’s COVID Action Project (CAP) will focus on five priorities:
- Galvanize the global business community for collective action
- Train global communities on awareness, response & self sustainability
- Urgent healthcare support – Telemedicine, PPE equipment, Building isolation rooms, Building disinfectant and thermal screening tunnels.
- Protect people’s livelihoods and facilitate decentralized business continuity at the local level
- Mobilize cooperation and business support for the COVID-19 response
The central government of India has decided to allow Corporate sector of India to use their mandatory corporate social responsibility (CSR) spending on measures to fight COVID-19.
The Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman confirmed that spending of CSR funds for COVID-19 is eligible CSR activity.
“In view of the spread of novel coronavirus in India, its declaration as pandemic by the WHO, and decision of Government of India to treat this as notified disaster, it is hereby clarified that spending of CSR funds for COVID-19 is eligible CSR activity,” Sitharaman said on Twitter. “Keeping in view of the spread of novel Corona Virus (COVID-19) in India, its declaration as pandemic by the World Health Organisaton (WHO), and decision of Government of India to treat this as a notified disaster. It is hereby clarified that spending of CSR funds for COVID-19 is eligible CSR activity,” Ministry of Corporate Affairs notified on Monday.
“Funds may be spent for various activities related to COVID-19 relating to promotion of healthcare, including preventive health care and sanitation and disaster management,” it said. According to the Companies Act, firms with a net worth of Rs 500 crore, or turnover of Rs 1,000 crore or net profit of Rs 5 crore or more, are required to set aside 2 per cent of their average net profits over the last three years on corporate social responsibility activities.
The move is expected to benefit local communities, where businesses have operations and complement the state’s efforts to combat the crisis that has disrupted economic activity Indian companies spend around ₹15,000 crore a year on charity as mandated by law.
An order by the ministry of corporate affairs said CSR funds may be spent on various activities related to the Covid-19 disease in ways such as promoting healthcare, including preventive care.
CSR funds could also be used to tackle disaster management, which includes relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction activities. The order explained that the decision was taken in view of the spread of the virus in the country, its declaration as a pandemic by the World Health Organization and the government’s decision to treat it as a disaster.
“Spending of CSR funds for Covid-19 is eligible CSR activity,” said the order. The move came while opposition parties have demanded the government announce a financial package to deal with the crisis. The pandemic has affected businesses, forcing factory shutdowns.
How Earth5R is driving COVID CSR efforts with corporations
The growing number of COVID-19 cases in India and around the world prompted Saurabh Gupta, founder of Earth5R, to go beyond the relief effort. Gupta stressed on the need to have a scientific approach to the relief effort.
This is why the idea to create fixed as well as movable isolation rooms came to his mind. Speaking to The Free Press Journal, Gupta added, “We have developed a technologically-driven isolation room which is ready to be deployed. There are two types of isolation rooms designed — movable and immovable.”
Gupta, who is working with a local partner to build the prototype, is optimistic that within a months’ time around 400-500 isolation rooms can be built. He claimed that the number of rooms can be scaled up further depending on manpower available. Other than funds, the biggest requirement for these rooms will be open space.
Most of the material used in this setup can be sourced locally, he claimed. “The rooms are created in such a way that it is well ventilated and at the same time, medical staff remains safe in case any of the isolated individuals are infected,” added Gupta.
At present, Mumbai-based Earth5R is looking at working with companies and governments to deploy these rooms. When asked about the cost of the product, Gupta, a social entrepreneur said, “We are still in talks with governments and institutions.
So, it will not be right to reveal the pricing.” While some basic features in all isolation rooms will be the same, the size of some rooms will differ based on the demand and that is expected to impact the pricing of the rooms, added Gupta.
Gupta along with a group of mechanical engineering, have been working on this for over a month and half. “As soon as we saw the situation in Wuhan in China, we realised there is a need for such rooms. Later, when COVID-19 started spreading to other countries in the world, we started the work on the prototype.”
Earth5R is a global environmental organisation, which focuses on environmental protection and sustainable development of communities through education and action. “We are running our sustainability projects in 53 countries and hundreds of cities around the globe.
So, we can supply these isolation rooms around the world with help of our local partners,” revealed Gupta. Other than designing isolation rooms, Earth5R’s mental health expert volunteers are conducting training on mental health.