Firm to Pursue Corporate Sustainability Mission

9:55:52 AM | 3/2/2021

Returning from a New Year business meeting on Vietnam’s economic prospect for the “new normal” future, I am increasingly confident in the path to sustainable development that VCCI and the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development (VBCSD) have steadfastly taken. Sustainable development covers not only environmental protection, but also economic and social aspects. A sustainable country is a country that has economic resilience built on the satisfaction and pride of each citizen, and a preserved ecological environment. That is the correct and comprehensive understanding of sustainable development.

Trailblazer

In 2019, the Government issued a decision approving the Sustainable Private Economic Development Plan for the first time. In 2020, the first resolution on sustainable development was also issued. VCCI has made indispensable contributions to the above important policies and the 10-year journey of sustainable development that VBCSD initiated.

Turning over each page on that journey, we can clearly see the marked contributions by VBCSD. VBCSD has helped raise awareness, changed business thinking, helped most Vietnamese enterprises to develop their ambiguous understanding into correct understanding, and then adopt comprehensive sustainable development. The agency has built and scaled up the application of the first sustainable corporate governance tool in Vietnam, Corporate Sustainability Index (CSI), since 2016, thereby delivering the concept of sustainable corporate governance to the business community. VBCSD has successfully introduced the circular economy, a very new model that will chart the way for world economies, to Vietnamese enterprises. VBCSD has made sustainable development acknowledged among the political, social and business systems by promoting dialogues and policy recommendations on sustainable development such as the Vietnam Corporate Sustainability Forum or the National Conference on Sustainable Development.

Talk less and do more. VBCSD has taken the lead in exploring new and difficult realms and stayed persistent, patient and innovative over a decade of operation. Its efforts to promote corporate sustainability in the past 10 years have been recognized, especially when the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the economy. An independent survey conducted by VBCSD showed that 60% of respondents applying the CSI believed that they were outperforming their competitors, while only 27% of companies not applying the CSI were confident about this. PNJ, a Vietnamese company that has made great progress in sustainable development for many years, has applied CSI not only to internal corporate governance, but also in supply chain assessment and construction, thus enabling it to be more resilient to fluctuations caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Many other Vietnamese companies have persistently pursued sustainable development for years and turned challenges into opportunities in the tough time, including Vinamilk, TBS, Bao Viet, TNG, SeaBank, BIDV and Traphaco.

A decade of action

The decade 2021-2030 is called the "Decade of Action" by the United Nations as 17 ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are targeted to be realized in this period. We must work together and act much more strongly.

VBCSD-VCCI will invest resources to build the Vietnamese Sustainable Business Ecosystem. Specifically, the VBCSD will tailor the CSI into different versions for different business scales instead of the current single version, to maximize its applicability and effect of applying the CSI in each enterprise. At the same time, VBCSD will also coordinate with business associations to develop separate CSI versions for each sector, based on its experience in successfully designing the CSI for the footwear and seafood industries. Good corporate governance is the most certain foundation for businesses to grow in the long term.

Besides, a Sustainable Business Consulting and Supporting Center will also be built to provide training, strengthen the capacity for businesses, consult businesses on sustainable business models - especially the circular economy, consult on CSI-based sustainability reporting, and consult on ESG (Environmental, social and governance) reporting. Businesses will be oriented to meet the following criteria: Making a plan for no GHG emissions by 2050; setting short and long-term environmental goals for biodiversity/natural restoration by 2050; developing policies and processes to ensure human rights at the workplace; ensuring inclusion, fairness, diversity and no discrimination of any form in the workplace; and ensuring transparent information disclosure.

In a "new normal" present and future, the Vietnamese business community needs a new business mindset: Active, cohesive and adaptive. The new decade will be a decade of responsible business values, ethical business and sustainable business.

By Nguyen Quang Vinh, General Secretary of VCCI, Executive Vice Chair of VBCSD