Creating Environment for Sustainable Business Development

2:07:44 PM | 9/6/2023

In the current context, sustainable development and innovation are crucial for creating competitive advantages for businesses and helping them create value for society and the community.

Speakers at the Vietnam Corporate Sustainability Forum (VCSF) 2023

The 2023 SDG Summit will take place in September in New York, the United States, to review the halfway point to the deadline set for achieving the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and outline a plan for accelerated action toward the 17 SDGs. At this milestone, the world is still facing challenges from climate change, food security crisis, energy security crisis, epidemics, global economic downturn, and geopolitical turmoil. Biodiversity loss, resource depletion, and climate change pose the heaviest pressures on humanity. Solving environmental problems and climate change will significantly help ensure a sustainable future that humanity desires. From this perspective, nature-positive business models - which produce a positive impact on the environment - are one of the most optimal solutions for sustainable business development goals. They enable the prosperity and well-being of each country and its people. This message was conveyed throughout the topics presented and discussed at the Vietnam Corporate Sustainability Forum (VCSF) 2023 recently held in Hanoi.

Deputy Prime Minister Tran Hong Ha emphasized that to help realize the SDGs and Vietnam’s commitments, positive actions and policies toward nature need to be integrated into business strategies, plans, and practices of enterprises. Investing in nature-based solutions is needed to enhance ecosystem services, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enhance resilience to climate change, and create new opportunities for innovation and growth. He also reminded the business community that adopting sustainable development is not only for large enterprises but SMEs - the backbone of the economy - also need to actively take part in this green race. He pointed out a number of directions that the country’s business community needs to prioritize to promote the sustainable development of enterprises and the country. Firstly, companies need to research, apply and practice regulations and criteria on sustainable development, including the Corporate Sustainability Index (CSI) developed by VBCSD-VCCI, along with the necessity to foster ESG practices in corporate governance. Secondly, they need to make efforts to protect nature and ecological diversity. Thirdly, to have more sustainability solutions, they also need to take advantage of Industry 4.0 achievements to accelerate digital transformation.

Mr. Pham Tan Cong, President of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), stated that VCCI is a national agency representing and gathering the business community in Vietnam. The organization is always pioneering and persistent in its efforts to support and inspire companies to transform and practice responsible and sustainable production and business. This year’s VCSF is the 10th edition hosted by VCCI. After a decade of unpredictable changes in the world, the forum has always been an opportunity for the Party, the government, and authorities to discuss with the business community about trends, approaches, and strategies toward the sustainability of the country. The forum also provides a platform for businesses to share difficulties, challenges, initiatives, good practices on sustainable production and business to jointly determine and set goals for the next period.

Mr. Nguyen Quang Vinh, Chair of the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development (VBCSD), redefined the concept of business success by affirming that today’s business is no longer successful if it is only for profit, ignores social values, and disregards contributions to the environment. He explained that the success of a business is not only measured by financial figures but also by new values - the new trust that the business creates for partners, the way that the business treats its employees and nature. This forces its leaders to have a new leadership mindset, to place people at the heart, to manage sustainable development for nature instead of just looking at mechanical targets and numbers.

Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc appreciated positive changes expressed in many practices like strengthening management and development of industrial zones and transforming production means towards green production and operation while remarking on the current national strategic goal of green growth-driven investment. At the same time, there is research and negotiation to deploy new mechanisms to engage external resources and strengthen international cooperation to exchange experiences in promoting green growth. Specially, localities have very strongly changed their investment attraction strategies. Currently, many are “saying no” to projects that only use technologies that are likely to harm the environment and projects that ignore green growth strategies. A series of projects, including large-scale ones, have begun to pledge carbon-neutral investment projects in Vietnam right from production like Lego Group of Denmark among others. Currently, more than ever, central and local agencies are closely following international trends, with a focus on enhancing opportunities to foster green growth and sustainable development. In addition to provincial plans, industry and field plans are thoroughly integrated with green growth goals.

“A series of projects, including large-scale ones, have begun to pledge carbon-neutral investment projects in Vietnam right from production like Lego Group of Denmark among others. Currently, more than ever, central and local agencies are closely following international trends, with a focus on enhancing opportunities to foster green growth and sustainable development. In addition to provincial plans, industry and field plans are thoroughly integrated with green growth goals. Those are very obvious and significant changes,” she noted.

Mr. Binu Jacob, CEO of Nestlé Vietnam and Co-Chair of VCBSD, representing the business community, stated that for many decades, businesses have focused on total shareholder return (TSR). However, for long-term and sustainable development, they not only need to create value for shareholders but also need to create total societal impact (TSI). Nowadays, investors are increasingly interested in well-performing businesses that have positive impacts on the environment, society and governance and have contributions to addressing social problems or climate change. Referring to Nestlé’s activities for sustainable development, Mr. Binu Jacob added that the company is carrying out many sustainability initiatives to exert a positive impact on the environment and society. Priorities include physical development and nutrition for children, responsible purchasing, action against climate change and water management as well as women’s empowerment and sustainable packaging development.

Ms. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hue

General Manager of Corporate Communication & External Affairs, AEON Vietnam

Retailers play a crucial role in shaping the market and building sustainable consumption habits through their daily interactions with consumers, offering a variety of products, services, and omnichannel distribution.

Public policies of the Government will also be disseminated more widely through the operation and compliance of retailers, thus fostering sustainable consumer behaviors in the market.

As a retailer, AEON Vietnam focuses on two main tasks for the global green race: Building a sustainable distribution system and promoting sustainable consumption. The company cooperates with reputable suppliers and partners to ensure a stable source of goods, providing consumers with a variety of products with stable quality and prices. Simultaneously, AEON Vietnam diversifies forms of procurement and builds an effective distribution system to promptly respond to changes in customer needs.

In addition to boosting sustainable consumption, AEON Vietnam sides with the Government in building sustainable consumer habits with many “green” initiatives to support customers such as Priority Payment Counters without plastic bags and Bag Leasing Program while halting to sale of single-use plastic products in supermarkets. The company will continue to promote, improve, and diversify its retailing business to increase and bring new values to customers towards a sustainable future.

Mr. Le Ngoc Lam

General Director of Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV)

BIDV is a major financial institution with leading experience and capacity in receiving and executing environmental protection and sustainable development projects from international financial institutions. Over the past 30 years, BIDV has been a strategic partner of development financial institutions like the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the largest recipient (21%) of official development assistance (ODA) and other international trust sources.

BIDV strengthens cooperation with international organizations to mobilize green and sustainable capital, thus helping boost sustainable finance, energy efficiency, and clean energy transition in many other forms. The company actively disburses the funds from the World Bank’s Vietnam Energy Efficiency for Industrial Enterprises Project (VEEIE), signed a US$300 million loan contract with ADB in 2018 to support SMEs with conditions for environmental protection and clean energy, and signed a US$100 million SUNREF green credit facility agreement with Agence Française de Développement (AFD) to finance businesses in renewable energy. Currently, BIDV is actively working with AFD to research and deploy new credit programs in the near future. In addition, BIDV joins co-financing cooperation with international financial institutions, with BIDV issuing standby letters of credit (SBLOC), receiving and managing collateral assets, and managing cash flows of projects. Typical projects joining this form include Xuan Tho 1 & 2 solar farms in Phu Yen province, Binh Nguyen solar farm in Quang Ngai province, Huong Linh 1 wind farm, and Phuong Mai 3 wind farm.

The international fund from foreign donors has helped BIDV add medium and long-term preferential credit sources for enterprises investing in green fields and promoting sustainable development in Vietnam.

Mr. Montri Suwanposri

General Director of C.P Vietnam Livestock Joint Stock Company

The global and Vietnamese economies are still trying to achieve recovery and adapting their institutions and business environment to long-term economic fluctuations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. C.P Livestock Vietnam Joint Stock Company (CPV) is clearly aware of the difficulties and opportunities that need to be grasped to make breakthrough development when the market is favorable and to exceed key business objectives. CPV has worked together to achieve impressive business growth and positively contribute to Vietnam’s sustainable agrifood industry development.

In business, CPV always ensures to harmonize economic growth goals with environmental and social benefits. The company targets premium products by applying international standards, high-tech technologies, and building a traceability system to ensure the supply of quality and safe food to domestic consumers and for export. CPV always complies with environmental regulations in order to minimize climate impacts and at the same time applies effective initiatives on the use of energy and resources. To fulfill the net-zero emissions target by 2050, CPV focuses on transitioning to renewable energy, improving energy efficiency, and eliminating coal-based energy. In response to the “1 billion tree planting project of the Prime Minister,” CPV has launched the goal of planting 1.5 million trees inside and outside business locations by 2025.

With a mission and vision built on the three-benefit philosophy “For the country, for the people, and for the company,” CPV established and shared sustainable values associated with 17 SDGs. The company is consistent in comprehensively integrating sustainable development management requirements in each field of activity in order to improve adaptability in business and realize sustainable social, environmental, and governance creation goals under three main pillars: “Food Security, Social Sufficiency, and Natural Balance.”

CPV is committed to implementing and fulfilling the SDGs in line with its strategic orientation, accompanying the Government of Vietnam in its commitments to sustainable development, and realizing the group’s vision and mission with its partners and customers towards developing a green and sustainable nation with the “Kitchen of the world” vision.

Ms. Le Thi Ngoc My

Head of Sustainability, HEINEKEN Vietnam

HEINEKEN Vietnam has been guided by sustainable development for over 30 years. The company’s “For a better Vietnam” sustainability strategy includes three main pillars: environment, society, and responsible drinking towards zero environmental impact, an inclusive, fair and equitable world, and a responsible drinking culture.

Environmentally, all six factories have achieved zero landfill waste in production from 2021 and 96% renewable energy in 2022. Currently, HEINEKEN Vietnam is actively carrying out the water conservation cooperation program with WWF-Vietnam towards a 100% water restitution by 2025.

For HEINEKEN Vietnam, sustainable development is a journey of joint actions. The company looks forward to further cooperating with the community and stakeholders on this journey for a better Vietnam.

Source: Vietnam Business Forum