VBCSD - Trailblazer in Delivering Sustainable Development

9:41:07 AM | 9/12/2020

2020 is the 10th anniversary of the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development (VBCSD). On this occasion, Mr. Nguyen Quang Vinh, General Secretary of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), and Executive Vice President of VBCSD, shared the story behind VBCSD-VCCI's efforts for strong contributions to deliver sustainable development values to the entire society. Huong Ly reports.

VBCSD-VCCI is always a vanguard to popularize the great values of sustainable development to businesses and the community. What are the greatest achievements you have made in the past 10 years?

Perhaps, 10 years of building a sustainable business community is not long because there are still many things that VBCSD-VCCI needs to work harder to achieve. Since the very first days of operation, we have always aimed at core activities: awareness raising, training, research, international cooperation and partnership promotion in sustainability-driven projects. Most importantly, VBCSD-VCCI plays a close and effective bridging role between the Government and the business community. On the one hand, VBCSD helps sound the voice of businesses to the Government, proposes many suitable policies to create a favorable legal corridor for enterprises to achieve sustainable development. On the other hand, VBCSD helps the Government to better understand business activities, and calls for businesses to join forces with it to realize the National Action Plan for implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Vietnam Sustainable Development Goals (V-SDG) more effectively.

It should be added that VBCSD-VCCI’s core activities always follow the direction the Government outlined in the National Action Plan, including the National Green Growth Strategy, the Directive and Resolution on Sustainable Development, or Decision 1362 on Sustainable Private Sector Development. These are also important policies on which VBCSD-VCCI submitted its valuable opinions to the Government.

How have the continuous, persistent and creative efforts of VBCSD influenced the business community and the whole society?

The first impact is the change in the perception of businesses and society of sustainable development. Initially, very few businesses understood and pursued sustainable development. However, after 10 years, the wave of sustainable development has spread more widely in the business community. In particular, VBCSD's members, most of them large enterprises capable of “shaping the game”, have contributed significantly to replicating this wave through our vast supply chain and value chain, thereby turning sustainable development into a common playground for all enterprises regardless of their size.

Actions speak louder than words. Not only changing the perception, VBCSD-VCCI also directs the business community to join hands and take action for inclusive sustainable development. Promoting sustainable corporate governance and building the circular economy model is the leverage that helps optimize VBCSD-VCCI’s efforts

VBCSD realized these orientations through the Corporate Sustainability Index (CSI) and the Program on Benchmarking and Ranking Sustainable Businesses in Vietnam since 2016. In particular, the Business Support Initiative for Circular Economy in Vietnam, implemented by VBCSD-VCCI and large enterprises since 2018, has quickly brought the circular economy, which is a very new concept in the world, to the business community of Vietnam.

What are the barriers that prevent Vietnamese businesses from moving toward sustainable development?

Indeed, sustainable development is not an easy direction as it requires persistence and great determination from business leaders to every employee. For the Vietnamese business community, where more than 90% are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), challenges lie in the following factors: resources and legal corridors.

They still lack financial capital, lack human resources and lack know-how to access and apply technology and innovation. In addition, our current policy environment is still incomplete and imperfect as it is not really favorable for them to access preferential credit sources and deploy new sustainability-driven business models.

Recently, the Government issued Resolution 136/NQ-CP on sustainable development, which assigned VCCI to carry out a series of business support activities. Would you tell us the action plan that VBCSD will take in the coming time?

VBCSD-VCCI is very happy when the Government promulgated a resolution on sustainable development to create a more solid foundation for central agencies and VCCI to take action to promote sustainable development in the coming time.

For its part, VBCSD will continue to work with its members and partners to strongly raise awareness and train businesses and trade associations nationwide on sustainable development.

Sustainable development dialogues such as the Vietnam Corporate Sustainability Forum (VCSF)/National Conference on Sustainable Development, projects and initiatives to foster sustainable business models and initiatives based on public-private partnerships will also be more vigorously deployed.

Currently, we are developing a project to scale up CSI application and will submit it to the Government for approval. Certainly in the near future, CSI will be further improved, with different versions suitable for large, medium and small and micro businesses, thus helping them approach the index and adopt sustainable corporate governance more effectively.

In 2020, in response to challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, what has VBCSD-VCCI done to endorse enterprises’ commitments to sustainable development?

To strengthen resilience, overcome shocks like Covid-19, improve competitiveness and take full advantage of business opportunities from new FTAs, there is the one single way for businesses to go: Sustainable development. In response to this requirement, VBCSD-VCCI has fostered dialogues through VCSF. VCSF 2020 focused on discussing key issues on sustainable corporate governance, scaling up the circular economy to respond to climate change, and strengthen public-private partnerships. These are not just lessons drawn from what happened during the Covid-19 pandemic, but above all they are key issues to be addressed in order to stimulate inclusive and sustainable socioeconomic growth in the 2021-2030 decade.

The VCSF Plenary Session, themed “Sustainable development in the new decade: Turning challenges into opportunities” on December 10, 2020, will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to exchange initiatives and discussions for solutions and give recommendations to the Government on building institutions, thus helping the business community enhance resilience in force majeure cases caused by pandemics and natural disasters, and bolster competitiveness and sustainable development.

Mr. Montri Suwanposri, General Director of C.P. Vietnam

The Corporate Sustainability Index (CSI) is a measure of business value based on criteria for economic, environmental and social sustainability. I think that CSI, quite detailed in content, is not only a measuring tool for management goals for the business, but also a reference for it to compare in a more positive, more sustainable manner.

Sustainability also helps sustain economic growth, prosperous society, fair and stable business, a healthy environment and sustainable resources. This is the long-term value, the driving force that always motivates us to do socially responsible business during the past time.

As a foreign-invested multi-business agricultural and food processing company in many countries, we have attached much importance to carrying out strategies to mitigate resource scarcity risks, solve environmental problems, open up growth opportunities for the company and deliver social benefits.

Based on sustainability strategy built on three key pillars: Food Security, Self Sufficient Society and Balance of Nature continuously developed and innovated by C.P. Vietnam every day, the company pays more attention to food quality, food safety and hygiene, and traceability to meet increasing customer requirements.

Long-term and sustainable values are the core foundation for us to persistently deliver the United Nations' sustainable development goals for 27 years.

Mr. Dinh Huu Thanh, Chairman and CEO of Bee Logistics

Sustainable development is an inevitable global requirement and trend in a world that increasingly deepens economic integration.

Recognizing the importance and benefits of sustainable development goals, Bee Logistics knows that, to become a global business, to ensure business growth and inclusive development in the present time and in the future, it cannot deviate from that trend.

There are three main motivations for us to pursue our business development strategy: Ethics, benefit for society and the company itself, and market requirement.

To sustain our operations, we always ensure the welfare of employees by offering a stable salary and reward, which is more competitive than the market average, and physical and mental health. We ensure fairness, transparency, gender equality and non-discrimination at the workplace. Besides, we support professional training for employees to better promote their careers. We sponsor education and training programs (supporting schools with internship opportunities and financing annual young talent contests).

In addition, we foster business growth, create more jobs and income for people, and enhance labor productivity. In recent years, we have continuously carried out charity programs to support the central region, provide aid for Covid-19 pandemic prevention, help poor children and people, and launch blood donation and humanitarian aid programs. We have applied Green Logistics.

We think that the Government should have mechanisms to encourage and motivate businesses to pursue sustainable development and provide specific guidance on how to achieve them as well as set assessment and recognition criteria. Once recognized and assessed, they will better realize the role of sustainable development, therefore motivating them to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs). The National Action Program for 17 SDGs adapted from the 2030 United Nations Agenda for SDGs will also need to be informed more strongly to people and enterprises.

Mr. Patrick Chung, General Director of Lee & Man

Choosing sustainable development as a long-term goal when operating in the Vietnamese market, we always strive to pursue and do our best with all 17 sustainable development goals. Currently, Lee & Man is prioritizing environmental related goals, sharing benefits with the community and employees such as: Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for people of all ages (Goal 3); Adequate and sustainable management of water resources and sanitation for all (Goal 6); Ensure access to sustainable, reliable and affordable energy for all (Goal 7); Ensuring sustainable, comprehensive and continuous economic growth; Creating decent, productive, and good jobs for everyone (Goal 8); Ensuring sustainable production and consumption (Goal 12)

As one of the leading large-scale FDI enterprises in the paper industry in Vietnam, we recognize that having a measure to help assess the performance and sustainability of the business, as the 17 sustainable development goals above, is a necessity. The pursuit of 17 goals, especially those related to environmental protection, human development, helps Lee & Man not only grow well in business but also a long-term direction, helping Lee & Man stand stable to all unpredictable changes in the current economy, especially in the face of the effects of the recent Covid-19 pandemic.

In addition to effective strategies and policies set out by the Government, ministries and other agencies, we, as an FDI enterprise, want to see more seriousness and consistency in encouraging and propagating domestic and foreign businesses in Vietnam to follow the trend of sustainable development. A business cannot completely change the face of a sustainable economy. This is an orientation that requires consensus of all businesses from small to large, from local and abroad.

Moreover, in the face of unpredictable developments from the Covid-19 pandemic and the instability of the economy, we also wish to receive support, companionship as well as timely advice from the Government, agencies and departments to promptly cope with difficulties and challenges so that they can wholeheartedly implement sustainable development activities in Vietnam.

Source: Vietnam Business Forum