Billion-dollar chances in sustainability

08:00 | 21/11/2018
As the Vietnamese business community is growing from strength to strength towards sustainability, Nguyen Quang Vinh, general secretary of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and director of the VCCI’s Business Office for Sustainable Development, told VIR’s Tuyet Anh that many enterprises do not consider sustainable development a burden, but instead see a raft of billion-dollar opportunities in it.
billion dollar chances in sustainability
Nguyen Quang Vinh, general secretary of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and director of the VCCI’s Business Office for Sustainable Development

The VCCI will soon announce Vietnam’s 100 leading sustainable businesses in 2018 based on its corporate sustainability index (CSI). This is the third year that the VCCI has compiled this list. Do you have any comments on the businesses joining this year’s programme?

I would like to note that after three years, enterprises’ perception and awareness of the CSI have significantly improved. Instead of regarding the implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) as a burden or just another pompous programme, many enterprises have begun to see sustainable development as an opportunity for business.

When the CSI was first rolled out, only a few Vietnamese companies engaged in the programme. We have made great efforts to make the CSI more favourable for enterprises so that they can devise proper business strategies in line with the 17 SDGs of the United Nations. However, many businesses claimed that the CSI was useful only for big and foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs).

However, after three years of implementation, there has been big change in the mindset of enterprises. Specifically, in addition to FIEs, there has been a big number of domestic businesses, especially small- and medium-sized ones, which have participated in the programme. Besides companies that have joined the CSI over the past three years, the number of new ones joining the index for the first time has increased remarkably this year. Clearly, they must have seen new opportunities in the CSI.

What makes the 2018 CSI different from previous editions?

Last year, the index continued to be revised to better suit Vietnamese laws and international practices. The CSI this year includes sub-indexes about awareness of sustainable development, economy, environment, and labour-society. As the most noteworthy change, we have aligned the CSI closer to the standards of the sustainability report of the Global Report Initiative.

Simultaneously, the CSI 2018 has set a standard on sustainable development.

Specifically, the economic, social, and environmental aspects of the CSI now have standard and advanced levels. For instance, if a company meets the criteria of “having a development strategy,” it will reach the “standard level.” Meanwhile, advanced level requires the company to have “a strategy pertaining to the 17 SDGs of the United Nations.”

We understand that the implementation of the SDGs at Vietnamese enterprises, especially small- and medium-sized ones, would need a suitable roadmap. The different levels will make it easier for enterprises to figure out what needs to do and what roadmap they should take when they want to approach the sustainable development strategy via the CSI.

The Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development has also organised training courses for companies about sustainability reporting and the application of the CSI to improve their performance, eliciting good feedback.

Businesses are free to join or opt out of the programme of benchmarking and announcing sustainable companies, but they understand that the CSI is an efficient way to approach partners and big markets in the world, as well as to gain the confidence of big investors.

This is because the CSI supports businesses in performing reporting and accountability to their partners, investors, and other relevant stakeholders.

In fact, the CSI and the programme of benchmarking and announcing sustainable companies has been prescribed in the government’s Resolution No.19-2018/2018/NQ-CP on further implementation of key tasks and measures to improve the business environment and national competitiveness.

As vice chairman of the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development, what message would you like to send to the business community?

If they want to be part of the global business community and reach higher on the global value chain, they must meet all standards set by the world.

This means sustainable development, which has been drawing special attention from all stakeholders. Thus, if they do not change their mindset on sustainable development soon, they will not be able to become “giants.” Besides, they must also understand that sustainable development is not a burden, but a gateway to opportunities worth tens of billions of US dollars, with hundreds of millions of new jobs to be created.

It is no coincidence that the 17th SDG of the United Nations, focuses on “partnership for the goal,” because, as the African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

That is why the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development has deployed a series of programmes and initiatives based on public-private partnership. We encourage enterprises to take seeking out opportunities for co-operation, so that they can utilise their respective strengths and resources, thereby better approaching sustainable development.

Based on MasterCMS Ultimate Edition Ver 2.8 2018