Sharing community values for sustainable development

June 16, 2020 | 10:00
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With economies like Vietnam developing rapidly across all sectors, environmental protection becomes more and more important. Among the many foreign-invested enterprises active in the country, Coca-Cola Vietnam is leading exemplary implementation practices that not only protect the environment but also support society as a whole.
1496p 26 sharing community values for sustainable development
Sharing community values for sustainable development

On the occasion of World Oceans Day on June 8, Coca-Cola in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) launched the Youth and Innovation for Oceans campaign to empower university students and young professionals to put forward innovative and practical solutions in managing plastic waste.

A representative of Coca-Cola Vietnam said that the initiative is part of Coca-Cola’s ambitious campaign called World Without Waste, which is implemented based on three pillars: design, collect, and partner. Accordingly, Coca-Cola established goals to make its packaging 100 per cent recyclable globally by 2025, and collect and recycle a bottle or can for each one it sells by 2030, thereby keeping Coca-Cola packaging out of oceans.

Coca-Cola is making efforts to increase recycling and refilling rates of its bottles and cans around the world. The beverage giant invested more than $19 million in a new food-grade recycling facility in the Philippines and is also accelerating key innovations that will help to reduce waste, including new enhanced recycling technologies that allow it to recycle poor-quality plastic bottles, often destined for incineration or landfills.

“At a global level, Coca-Cola is part of key coalitions that work together to clean up plastic pollution and also co-founded the World Economic Forum Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP),” the representative stressed. GPAP is a collaboration with governments and stakeholders in coastal economies to address plastic waste, with specific programmes launched in Indonesia, Vietnam, and Ghana. In addition, Coca-Cola is also part of the G7 Ocean Plastics Charter and, alongside key industry partners, invested $15 million in Circulate Capital, an impact-investment firm aiming to keep plastic waste out of the world’s oceans.

Coca-Cola is also one of the founding members of Packaging Recycling Organization Vietnam (PRO Vietnam), which is aimed to drive the circular economy and ensure packaging recycling is more accessible and sustainable across the country.

Protecting water resources

At the beginning of 2020, the Mekong Delta region witnessed the worst drought and saltwater intrusion in its history, which reached alarming levels at several provinces. In this context, it is crucial to diversify livelihoods and store fresh water to save the delta, which is considered the “rice bowl” of Vietnam.

To tackle this issue, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in collaboration with Coca-Cola Vietnam has kicked off a project on piloting flood-based livelihoods in support of a water retention strategy for the Mekong Delta.

With a $550 million fund from Coca-Cola Vietnam, the project aims to train and assist farmers in the region’s Dong Thap, Long An, and An Giang provinces to adopt flood-based livelihoods as alternatives to unsustainable triple rice cropping. Accordingly, farmers will grow flood- and drought-tolerant plants to improve their crops and livelihoods as well as increase flood retention capacity in the area.

The project has been piloted in an area of 450 hectares for three years, of which 150ha were used for lotus cultivation in Thap Muoi district of Dong Thap.

On another 150ha integrated lotus farming-ecotourism was cultivated in Tan Hung district of Long An, and the remaining 150ha were used for rice-aquatic farming in Tri Ton district of An Giang.

The project is targeting to conserve and restore approximately 6.7 million cubic metres flood retention capacity per year. The results will be scaled up across the upper delta by integrating the project approach into new provincial land and water use plans, as proposed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Water Retention Strategy in the Mekong Delta.

Jake Brunner and Andrew Wyatt, the IUCN’s Mekong Delta programme managers, said that the project is in line with the Green Climate Fund, which aims to ensure the safety and livelihood of the vulnerable communities affected by climate change. The project has stored more than 1.5 million cu.m of water in An Giang and Dong Thap.

Besides clean water, Coca-Cola has introduced the Ekocenter initiative to help improve the lives of disadvantaged people by enabling internet access for them and empowering women in the mountainous areas.

Since the first centre had been formed in 2015, the project has expanded to 12 locations, contributing $36 billion and creating 576 jobs by 2018. Instead of awarding existing results, Coca-Cola Vietnam tends to look towards the future sustainable development by building a foundation for health and knowledge for the people.

While the company looks forward, Coca-Cola’s Ekocenter initiative received the En Xanh Award in 2019 – Vietnam’s first award ceremony honouring the best business initiatives that aim to build a humane and sustainable community.

One of the major impacts of the project is to solve issues about water usage and the consequences of climate change. By the end of 2018, the project has provided two billion litres of clean water to over 70,000 residents, as well as supported the conservation and restoration of 450ha of flood-based livelihoods.

“The Ekocenter project has been receiving support from numerous social enterprises and local authorities. This is one of Coca-Cola’s leading corporate social responsibility activities, and the 2019 En Xanh award is a testament to our ongoing efforts. Coca-Cola will continue to bring the best solutions and constantly create more positives changes to the community and society,” said the representative of Coca-Cola Vietnam.

As such, the group plans to continue building more Ekocenters in the remaining provinces while also providing more digital services such as online libraries and audio books.

The efforts and responsible contributions of foreign-invested enterprises (FIE) such as Coca-Cola over the past few years only demonstrate further their long-term commitment to the country.

More sustainable development

At present, FIEs make up 20 per cent of Vietnam’s GDP, 25 per cent of total development investment, and over 40 per cent of industrial production value. FIEs account for more than 50 per cent of total export turnover, nearly 50 per cent of total imports, and about 30 per cent of the country’s total state budget revenue. Besides creating employment opportunities, FIEs also prompt local businesses to upgrade technologies and gain insight of export markets.

A global survey by PwC in 2018 showed that 72 per cent of companies mention the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals in their annual corporate or sustainability reports. It comes from the fact that financial figures do not reflect the real value of businesses. Meanwhile, non-financial information such as diversity, equal opportunities, environmental impact and supply chain practices are becoming new measures.

In Vietnam, it is obligatory for securities firms to disclose information about environmental and social indicators according to Circular No.155/2015/TT-BTC from 2015.Some businesses have even made efforts to apply international sustainability reporting standards like the Global Reporting Initiative, surpassing existing regulations.

By Thanh Van

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