Sustainable development’s good for business

Wednesday, Oct 11, 2017 08:51

A focus on sustainable development is good for business, and enterprises should see it as critical for long-term growth, Vu Tien Loc, Chairman of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said on Tuesday. – Photo

A focus on sustainable development is good for business, and enterprises should see it as critical for long-term growth, Vu Tien Loc, Chairman of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said on Tuesday.

Therefore, they should intensify their search for solutions to address sustainability challenges, he said at the Viet Nam Corporate Sustainability Forum held in Ha Noi.

"The task becomes especially important in the context of rapid international integration," he added.

Sustainable development would not just bring social and environmental benefits, it would also generate business opportunities, Loc said.

Citing the “Better Business – Better World” report prepared by the Business And Sustainable Development Commission, he said sustainable development would create a market worth US$5 billion and generate 230 million new jobs in Asia by 2030.

Viet Nam is one of 193 United Nations members that have adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Kamal Malhotra, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam, said Viet Nam faced challenges that stem from growth that tended to be less inclusive. Businesses play a vital role in addressing the issue, and they have to find innovative solutions towards achieving the SDGs, he added.

Vo Tuan Nhan, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, also stressed the importance of businesses, saying they would be the core force in implementing the SDGs.

“The public and private sectors should continue enhancing co-operation to successfully adapt to climate change impacts and contribute to policies, resources and solutions needed to achieve the SDGs,” Nhan said.

Food security

Besides climate change challenges, the boom in population was also posing a threat to global food security, the forum heard.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ha Cong Tuan, said that it was critical for Viet Nam to develop a sustainable agriculture sector, because it would bring significant opportunities for the country that has abundant farming advantages.

Sustainable agriculture must reach three goals, Tuan said.

The first goal is to establish a value chain, improve competitiveness and create favourable conditions for investment and building national brands. The second goal is to improve living standards alongside poverty alleviation and the third is to attach agricultural production to environmental protection.

“Sustainable agriculture is an imperative that requires the participation of both Government agencies and businesses,” Tuan said.

Nguyen Quang Vinh, VCCI’s Deputy Secretary General, said business support for the SDGs was stronger than assumed during the past two years, with hundreds of firms and multinational corporations pioneering sustainable business models in Viet Nam.

"However, the pace of implementation needs to be accelerated," Vinh said.

“Businesses should incorporate the SDGs into their strategies. They should be proactive in enhancing competitiveness, grasping opportunities, renovating and applying advanced business models, especially solutions to sustainability challenges for long-term rather than short-term benefits,” he said.

Vinh also said that the VCCI’s Viet Nam Business Council for Sustainable Development would soon establish a centre for circular economy (restorative and regenerative as opposed to the linear take-make-dispose economy), which would help businesses scale up zero-waste models at a time natural resources are being exhausted.

Representatives from multinational corporations, including Heineken and Unilever, shared information about innovative solutions that they have come up with to facilitate the implementation of SDGs.

Tran Vu Hoai, vice president of Unilever Vietnam’s Corporate Affairs and Sustainable Development, agreed that SDGs should be embedded in business strategies and operations, and that it would bring new opportunities for business development.

Four discussion panels were organised at the conference yesterday afternoon: developing human capital to achieve the SDGs; circular economy; Corporate Sustainability Index; and transparency and integrity in doing business. – VNS

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