To follow the success of Vietnam Corporate Sustainability Forums, Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development (VBCSD) and Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) organized in the 4th VCSF Forum with the topic “Scaling-up business solutions to sustainability challenges”. On this occasion, Vietnam Environment Administration Magazine (VEM) interviewed Mr. Nguyễn Quang Vinh, VCCI Vice General Secretary cum CBCSD Vice President on sustainable business solutions in Việt Nam.
|Mr. Nguyễn Quang Vinh
Vice General Secretary of VCCI cum Vice President of VBCSD
VEM: In your opinion, what roles do corporates play in implementing Sustainable Development Goals?
Mr. Nguyễn Quang Vinh: First, it can be affirmed that in addition to Governments and international organizations’ roles, businesses play a crucial role in implementing 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) because businesses’ activities have certain impact on human lives. In other words, SDG will not be implemented without businesses’ participation.
Businesses are important and decisive for the national economy transformation. They are main driving forces of economic growth, created jobs and promoted innovation, renovation and technology development. In particular, private sector is one of the main state revenue sources which enable infrastructure development investment and public activities (health, education, poverty reduction…) and environmental protection, towards sustainable development.
At a national level, sustainable development goals are considered as a steering instrument for business development. Sustainable development has always been considered an important and main element of economic development in Viet Nam. Therefore, by working towards SDGs, businesses will heighten their status and gain trust from Government, clients and investors.
VEM: What do you think about corporates’ SDG implementation in the period 2015 - 2017?
Mr. Nguyễn Quang Vinh: Two years after SDGs were approved by UN members in 2015, corporates’ support for SDGs has changed remarkably. So far, 1,500 businesses have joined UN Corporate Sustainability Forum whereas in 2016 only 200 businesses participated. In particular, business community has been more aware about SDGs’ opportunities as well as their potential risks. The number of businesses which have sustainability reports has doubled in the last five years with 90% of the total 500 big scale businesses having made sustainability reports. In addition, cooperation networks have been strengthened with close connections among businesses and nations.
However, businesses’ influences on sustainable development remain limited, particularly in financial sector. Many businesses are struggling with understanding SDGs and in general sustainability awareness is not high yet at a global level.
VEM: In reality, what is the status of implementation of initiatives and models for sustainable business in Việt Nam?
Mr. Nguyễn Quang Vinh: More and more initiatives and models for sustainable business have been developed, including: doing business with low income households, recycling economy, sustainable value chain development, sustainability reports and corporate sustainability index. Many businesses have cut their emission by 99% of CO2, stopped landfilling, used recyclable energy and recycled 98 - 99% of the byproducts. At present, VCCI and VBCSD are developing a program of supporting business to run a circular economy which is a new concept in Việt Nam and the world. It is estimated that this new business model can generate business opportunities the values of 4,500 billion USD per year. Therefore, Vietnamese businesses can benefit from a circular economy. A first activity by the program is an initiative “Stop littering” implemented by VCCI/VBCSD, Unilever Viet Nam, Coca Cola Viet Nam and Dow Chemical Viet Nam. This initiative is aimed at addressing plastic waste issues, mapping for sustainable business model development nationwide, value chain development and making policy recommendations for applying a circular economy.
In addition, social corporate model is a human and sustainable initiative. In Việt Nam, social corporates have become legal and encouraging economy entities. Many businessmen have opted for social corporate model to contribute to community development with the main objective of bringing happiness for everyone.
|Heineken Beer Việt Nam is ranked 3rd most sustainable corporate in production sector in 2016 by VCCI|
VEM: To implement SDGs successfully, in addition to efforts by Governments, Ministries/Sectors, what do corporates need to do?
Mr. Nguyễn Quang Vinh: As mentioned earlier, the global goals will not be achieved without corporates’ participation. On the other hand, businesses also benefit from sustainability. According to a study by Sustainability and Business Committee, if sustainable development is considered a business’s core strategy, achievements of the SDGs can open market opportunities of at least 12,000 billion USD in the four sectors of food and agriculture, urban areas, energy and materials and health. When estimated in all sectors, the benefit would be higher than 12,000 billion USD. Therefore, corporates should recognize that it will be costly not to follow sustainable development when sustainability benefits are foregone.
In addition, shortcomings of a traditional economy are causing numerous social and environmental problems and compromising future development. Business costs are increasing while business opportunities are decreasing. As governments are putting more pressure of sustainability implementation on corporates, not integrating sustainability into business strategies will pose legal risks in the future. I hope that corporate managers will consider SDGs as their responsibilities and keep up with sustainability information.
In the meantime, corporates need to understand their impacts on economy, society and the environment. They need to apply effective instruments (for example CSI) to run their businesses so that they can have a comprehensive vision in managing risks and develop business strategies in SDG views. This will help corporates with more success and sustainability as well as propaganda of implementation and progress of SDGs.
At a sector level, corporates need to work with each other and related agencies to integrate SDGs into the sector context and then develop a common vision for the sector and implement transformative initiatives. Corporates also need to introduce important policies as well as other support from governments and financial organizations.
VEM: Thank you!
Vũ Nhung (Implemented)