Keppel Land nurtures local communities in Vietnam

January 29, 2022 | 15:06
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Keppel Land has been in Vietnam since the early 1990s and is one of the largest foreign real estate investors in the country, deeply committed to engaging with and contributing to local communities. Joseph Low, president for Vietnam at Keppel Land, talked with VIR's Binh An about the firm's corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.
Keppel Land nurtures local communities in Vietnam
Joseph Low, president for Vietnam at Keppel Land.

What is Keppel Land’s sustainability and CSR strategy?

Keppel Land is part of the larger Keppel Group, which has articulated its vision for 2030 that places sustainability at the core of its strategy.

Keppel Land is committed to advancing sustainable development through aligning our activities with selected sustainable development goals (SDG) of the UN that are most aligned with our business and material issues. We are also committed to nurturing and uplifting communities wherever we operate and adopt a multi-faceted approach towards CSR with a focus on environmental stewardship and social responsibility.

We also firmly believe that knowledge is fundamental in equipping communities with skills for a sustainable livelihood and improved living standards. As such, we collaborate with strategic partners on educational initiatives and programmes in Vietnam.

What sort of educational initiatives has Keppel Land supported in recent years?

Over the past two years, we have provided 30 scholarships to the valedictorians and students who had achieved the highest results in the entrance exams of their respective universities. Keppel Land’s support is part of Tien Phong newspaper’s Fund for Young Talents of Vietnam in support of gifted students at Vietnam’s leading universities.

Separately, in 2018 and 2019, Keppel Land presented about 30 scholarships worth $19,500 to the Best Friend Foundation, which aims to support underprivileged tertiary students in Ho Chi Minh City.

In 2011, Keppel Land partnered with the Singapore International Foundation to bring the Words on Wheels (WoW) mobile library initiative to Vietnam. WoW touched the lives of about 4,000 children across 10 rural villages in Hanoi, and gave them access to information through a roving mobile library.

The programme was subsequently relaunched in Ho Chi Minh City in 2018 and has since benefitted about 7,000 Vietnamese students. As part of WoW, Keppel Land volunteers also refurbished the libraries of seven schools in the city and conducted library management workshops to equip school librarians with digital management skills.

Can you elaborate on Keppel Land’s initiatives to promote environmental awareness and conservation over the years?

Keppel Land regularly organises and participates in eco-initiatives to promote environmental awareness and conservation.

For example, to commemorate Earth Hour in 2020, Keppel Land’s properties in Vietnam, such as Saigon Centre and Estella Place, together with other commercial, residential, and hospitality developments in Singapore, China, and Indonesia, demonstrated their support for climate action by turning off non-essential lights for an hour.

Keppel Land also regularly organises initiatives to raise public awareness about plastic waste. Initiatives include organising the display of a plastic straw art installation, The Parting of the Plastic Sea, which was made from 168,000 plastic straws and packaging recovered from the streets of Vietnam, at the Estella Place retail mall in 2019.

Featuring two 3.3m tall waves, the installation achieved the Guinness World Record for the ‘Largest drinking straw sculpture (supported)’. In the same year, Keppel Land also co-organised the Plastic Diet campaign to raise awareness of the negative impacts of plastic waste.

We previously also organised the Plastic Straw Free challenge at Saigon Centre, which was held to promote the use of biodegradable or reusable alternatives to plastic straws, such as bamboo or paper straws.

Apart from promoting environmental awareness among the public, our retail tenants, and shoppers, we also organise regular eco-initiatives to encourage a green mindset among our people. For example, in 2021, we conducted ‘Trash to Treasure’, an online workshop during which our staff and their families learned how to create recycled crafts from trash and unwanted products. We also previously held the 'Green Workshop’ to promote recycling among our staff and their families. In addition, we organise annual beach cleanup activities.

What are some of the local community engagement programmes in recent years that Keppel Land has organised?

Keppel Land is committed to caring for the local community wherever it operates. Since 2020, Keppel Land’s employees in Vietnam have clocked a total of nearly 1,400 volunteer hours and helped over 350 less-fortunate children through various programmes such as the Mid-Autumn Lantern Workshop & Love Share Trip, Virtual Love Visit, as well as the annual Grant-A-Wish initiative.

In 2019, Keppel Land’s employees and tenants also participated in the Give Love & Share Joy, where meaningful gifts were given to children from shelter homes in Dong Nai.

How has Keppel Land helped in the fight against COVID-19?

In 2021, Keppel Land donated a total of $321,000 in support of Vietnam’s nationwide efforts to fight COVID-19. Most of this was given through Keppel Land Vietnam and its joint venture company, Keppel Land Watco II, to the Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee.

The donation supported Vietnam’s vaccination efforts and provided medical supplies to local hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City as well as other affected regions in Vietnam. In addition, further medical supplies worth $13,000 were donated by Keppel Land Watco II to government agencies in the city.

Since the pandemic, Keppel Land has put in place precautionary measures to minimise the spread of the virus and protect its employees, building tenants and visitors, as well as implemented business continuity plans. Keppel Land is currently also exploring other measures to support vulnerable groups in Vietnam.

In addition in 2019, 500 employees from Keppel Land and tenants at the Saigon Centre participated in a blood donation drive held at the centre's retail mall. The event was jointly organised by Keppel Land and the Ho Chi Minh City Blood Transfusion Hematology Hospital, in support of patients from local hospitals. In total, it was estimated that the blood donated from the drive could save more than 1,500 lives.

Keppel Land nurtures local communities in Vietnam
Joseph Low (second from right), president (Vietnam) of Keppel Land, presented a donation of VND7.1 billion on behalf of Keppel Land and its joint venture company, Keppel Land Watco II, to Pham Minh Tuan (second from left), vice chairman of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee

By Binh An

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