Last updated: Tuesday, March 19, 2019


VCCI Stands by the Side of Government, Business to Deliver Green, Sustainable Growth

Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2018

Today, the story of sustainable development is no longer strange to us and it is becoming a global trend. Grasping that trend, the Vietnamese Government, ministries and VCCI, among other bodies, are also building long-term plans for the “Better business, better world” where the economy and businesses move towards green, sustainable growth. The road ahead is still very rough, though.

Vietnam is among countries that included global sustainable development goals in the national agenda. Together with its partners, the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development (VBCSD) under the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) is working tirelessly to give a helping hand to bring those goals closer to the business community. It is also working to promote and strengthen the business - government - society partnership to join hands with business leaders for a more developed community and a better life.

Sustainable development is already good business
Looking to the world, businesses are pushing for a sustainable trend for better opportunities and better performance because they know that sustainable development is increasingly linked to high return on investment. Progressive companies and start-ups are shaping market opportunities driven by global goals by carrying out five new business models: Shared, circular, lean service, big data and social enterprise.

Looking to those benefits, many companies have deployed consistent models and sustainable development tools to open up new innovation-driven business opportunities, and sought to improve innovations and creativity, attract workers, customers and investors. A recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute found that 44 per cent of sustainable business leaders viewed growth and new business opportunities as motivations for them to address sustainable development challenges.

Besides, sustainable development can be seen as a great way of cost saving for businesses. Statistics have shown that many companies reached an internal rate of return of 27 per cent thanks to carbon cutting. The US Dow Group cut down 110 BTU and reused 344 million pounds of byproducts in 2014. Over 15 years until 2010, the group saved US$9.4 billion. Remarkably, their effort prevented the emission of 95 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere while saving that US$9.4 billion.

Meanwhile, the business community in Vietnam has also witnessed some good examples in implementing sustainable development. Take HEINEKEN Vietnam as an example. In 2016, 4 out of 6 HEINEKEN Vietnam plants brewed entirely with environmentally friendly energy from biomass. Hence, this company cut down up to 50 per cent of the CO2 emission during 2014 and 2016, while provided stable income to local farmers thanks to buying their husk waste for biomass production – this helped save considerably their operation cost. At the same time, biogas produced from the operation of waste water treatment plants are reused as a source of energy. That is a case study of a foreign invested company. Loc Phat Farm in Binh Phuoc province of Loc Phat Company is another vivid example of Vietnamese business pioneering in investing in facilities to eliminate negative environmental effects caused by business activities. With the waste treatment system of over VND10 billion, all kinds of waste are processed, which generates 30 per cent of the total energy (gas, electricity) for the whole farm. Waste water is fed into the irrigation system for tens of thousands of hectares of rubber in the area. To process a huge amount of pig placenta and dead newborn pigs from 2,400 pigs, the farm has also invested a breeding area of nearly 4,000 crocodiles. This solution can not only help solve environmental problems but also create great profit for the company.

The above examples show that businesses are actively investing in sustainable development and having well-prepared plans that not only result in great benefits and cost savings to them but, more importantly, help protect the environment as well. That is also the goal of “Better business, better world”.

In Vietnam, this story seems to interest big firms only, while most small businesses still do not care much and regard it as the matter of big firms rather their own. For example, sustainability reporting is a must-go approach for those seeking sustainable development. But, doing this job are mostly big corporations such as Baoviet Holdings, Heineken, Unilever, Vingroup, FPT Corporation and Vinamilk Corporation, while a vast majority of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) show no interest in sustainability reporting; many are carrying out sustainable development or making sustainability reports to meet mandatory requirements rather than for their own interests. Very few companies know that caring about sustainable development or making a true, transparent sustainability report always has bigger rewards than efforts they put into it.

Superficially fulfilling mandatory requirements is quite common and it is becoming extremely dangerous in the present context as climate change and environmental pollution are knocking on the door of every family.

Efforts for sustainable development goals
Having identified difficulties and challenges in the sustainable development story in Vietnam, VCCI in general and VBCSD in particular are working hard to speed up this process. It is important to change awareness of businesses because this is the first factor to engage them to join and spread the sustainable development story into the business community.

Specifically, VBCSD launched the Vietnam Corporate Sustainability Forum (VCSF) and the Corporate Sustainability Index (CSI) - an annual programme on benchmarking and ranking businesses. These events are no longer limited to the scope of a forum gathering hundreds of businesses, but becoming a place to incubate, realise and spread many business initiatives designed towards sustainable development, as well as public-private partnership (PPP).

Remarkably, VBCSD established the Advisory Group on Sustainable Development and Digitalisation Evolution whose missions are proposing digitisation evolution policies and action plans to the Government and supporting the business community to meet demands posed by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The group conducted a quick survey on business perceptions and impacts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to work out the most accurate report and put forth best proposals to the Government and the business community as well.

Seeing the importance of circular economy in promoting sustainable development in Vietnam, VBCSD - VCCI took the lead in developing a business support programme to promote the deployment of circular economy in Vietnam. In late January 2018, the programme was officially kicked off with the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the launch of the “Zero Waste to Nature” Initiative between VBCSD-VCCI, Unilever Vietnam, Coca-Cola Vietnam and Dow Chemical Vietnam.

Although the expanse of sustainable development towards the goal of “better business, better world” in Vietnam is not very broad, although the “big road has already opened” as the Government defines “sustainable development is among important international commitments of Vietnam, the country must have clearly substantive changes in delivering the National Action Plan for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2018.” And, we have gone a long way since the Brundtland Commission put forward the first concept of sustainable development. But, it is clear that the road ahead is still very rough and requires the exertion of the whole community.

It necessarily reiterates that there is no one bigger or smaller, no one more important or less important, in the “better business, better world” story. And, every idea is equal and potentially realisable if there is enough determination. Every opportunity of sustainable business will help promote a green economy that will grow and flourish in order to build a sustainable and better future.

Certainly, VCCI will coordinate with central and local authorities, branches and businesses to promote and spread this process.

Nguyen Quang Vinh, Secretary General of VCCI

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