Growing companies with sustainability

December 16, 2021 | 12:57
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More and more businesses have realised the importance of sustainable development to enhance resilience in turbulent times. Nguyen Quang Vinh, general secretary of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), tallked with VIR’s Thy Nguyet the sustainable development picture of Vietnamese firms and plans to support them.
Nguyen Quang Vinh, general secretary of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)
Nguyen Quang Vinh, general secretary of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)

What’s your assessment of the sustainable development journey of the Vietnamese business community in the past year?

Fifteen years ago when the Office for Sustainable Development was first established, the local business community had little knowledge about the issue. Now, through the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (VBCSD) constant efforts towards improving general awareness, the business community has grasped the importance of exercising sustainable development in production and trade activities.

When consumer demand experiences a sharp and abrupt drop, the import-export market faces numerous difficulties, and the labour supply chain incurs disruptions, businesses are forced to restructure and present suitable management and business strategies.

In 2021, more than 100,000 firms exited the market in this country, which is up 15 per cent on-year. However, firms that have consistently pursued sustainable development over several years have been more immune to the pandemic with stable production and business growth. They have even made active contributions in both finance and materials to the state, working with the government and society in the fight against COVID-19.

VBCSD’s September survey about the current business situation shows that over 80 per cent of firms have strengthened sectoral links, ensuring no disruption to the supply chain even in the case of crisis.

In addition, firms embracing sustainable development have also pushed up e-commerce to avail of digital transformation benefits to mitigate reliance on traditional business methods.

You have encouraged local firms to apply circular economic models in their production and business. How important is this and what activities has VBCSD taken to promote application in Vietnam?

Building a circular economy is set as one of the major orientations for the country’s development for this decade and is embedded in the Law on Environment 2020. The creation of such models has been integrated into our action programmes for many years, bringing this content into discussion programmes at diverse forums and conferences on sustainable development. Through events that we host annually, we help to enhance the knowledge and increase exchanges and sharing about the circular economy among the government, ministries, sectors, experts, and the business community.

Last year, we proposed to the prime minister the development and implementation of the National Support Programme on Circular Economy Application for the business community to cover the next few years.

Besides that, we have actively coordinated with members as well as domestic and international partners to carry out projects and initiatives such as the Zero Waste into Nature initiative to reduce plastic waste and build a sustainable business model toward the circular economy; a secondary materials marketplace initiative; and training on the circular economy for businesses and media agencies, among others.

In October this year, VBCSD published a research report on the current status and potential of the circular economy in the fast-moving consumer goods industry in Vietnam, focusing on food and non-alcoholic beverages. The research showed that 90 per cent of respondents have adopted the circular economy model at different levels, focusing on prioritised use of raw materials, infrastructure, and package use.

Could you shed some light on VBCSD’s more recent action programmes in the name of sustainable development?

Fulfilling responsibilities assigned by the government according to Resolution No.136/NQ-CP on sustainable development, VBCSD-VCCI will actively and effectively carry out support initiatives to promote companies to adopt sustainable development and circular economy models and, at the same time, speed up the sustainable business assessment using the Corporate Sustainability Index.

Currently, we are coordinating with some ministries and members of VBCSD to continue developing the Industrial Park Sustainability Index. Promoting the formation of sustainable industrial parks will lay the bedrock to form functional bodies for a powerful Vietnamese economy.

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