Suntory Group deepens sustainable footprint in Vietnam

March 29, 2023 | 10:00
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The “Mizuiku – I love clean water” programme is an education initiative for nature and water unique to Suntory Group designed for the next generation to realise the beauty of nature, which has brought benefit to more than 2.6 million people at all ages across Vietnam after eight years. VIR’s Ha Thuy has an exclusive interview with Masaaki Fujiwara, chief sustainability officer of Suntory Group.
Suntory Group deepens sustainable footprint in Vietnam
Masaaki Fujiwara made speech about Suntory development strategy through Mizuiku programme

Can you please share Suntory Group's sustainability vision?

A global leader in the beverage industry, Suntory Group offers a uniquely diverse portfolio of products from premium spirits, beer and wine to brewed teas, bottled water, carbonated soft drinks, ready-to-drink coffee and energy drinks, and health and wellness products.

As a multifaceted consumer-oriented company, we are dedicated to realising our mission “To Create Harmony with People and Nature.” This means promoting a sustainable society where nourishing and enriching people’s lives and conserving the natural environment go hand in hand.

To realise this ambition, we deeply respect the blessings of nature on which our products rely, and engage in a range of corporate social responsibility activities to promote responsible environmental management that ensures sustainable use of natural resources and a healthy natural water cycle.

In addition to delivering safe, high-quality products and services that consumers love, we continue to look for opportunities across our entire value chain to contribute to a sustainable society.

Our world faces a wide variety of environmental and social issues, such as water shortages, loss of biodiversity, climate change, pollution and increasing waste, poverty, human rights violations, and more. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted at the 2015 UN Summit call on businesses to address social issues and to promote a sustainable society. While the world works to solve these problems together, we will continue to tackle these issues as we expand our global business based on our vision “Growing for Good.”

Can you tell us about Mizuiku programme in Japan and why Suntory decided to choose Vietnam as the first country outside Japan to implement the initiative?

Water is a valuable shared resource and the most important resource for the Suntory Group. Based on Suntory's “Sustainable Water Philosophy,” we promote a wide range of activities to preserve water, including understanding of the water cycle, reduction, recycling and wastewater management, watershed conservation, and work with external stakeholders to achieve water sustainability.

Suntory Group deepens sustainable footprint in Vietnam
The ceremony of pressing the button to start the programme “Mizuiku - I love clean water” 2023

In our Environmental Vision towards 2050, we have established the following water sustainability goals: reduce water consumption in half at our plants worldwide; preserve water resources and the ecosystem to cultivate more water than is used by our plants worldwide; realise sustainable water use at primary raw material farms; and share the Sustainable Water Philosophy broadly in communities where we are expanding our primary businesses. The Mizuiku initiative is one of the key programmes to deliver our vision.

Launched in Japan in 2004, the education programme for Nature and Water - Suntory Mizuiku - is unique to Suntory designed for the next generation to realise the beauty of nature, to understand the importance of both water and the forests that nurture the groundwater, and to think about what they can do to ensure there is water in the future.

From the inception, Vietnam has been identified as a key market of Suntory Group.

With the expansion of Suntory Group's business activities internationally, we launched Suntory Mizuiku education programme firstly in Vietnam in 2015, followed by Thailand, Indonesia, France and China and Spain. We will promote the programme in countries where we carry out business in the future.

From the inception, Vietnam has been identified as a key market of Suntory Group. When establishing the strategic alliance of Suntory PepsiCo between Suntory Group (Japan) and PepsiCo Corporation (the US) in Vietnam, our mission was not only to bring quality products to consumers but also contribute to the Vietnamese community. Sustainable development in Vietnam is a key element that we always prioritise to develop our business and affirm our position in the market.

Along with the effective cooperation between Suntory PepsiCo and partners, we have been carrying out many educational and water conservation activities. We strongly believe that the Mizuiku programme brings a lot of value to the community, helping to build a generation of young Vietnamese living responsibly for the protection of water resources and the environment.

How do you evaluate outcomes of Mizuiku in Vietnam in its journey so far?

I’m very pleased to see the impressive results of “Mizuiku – I love clean water” programme in Vietnam after eight years of implementation from 2015 to 2022.

To date, the programme has brought benefit to more than 2.6 million people at all ages across the country. In which, more than 141,000 elementary school students participated in learning about clean water resource conservation, and 3,728 Mizuiku classes were organised and trained by nearly 3,924 teachers and volunteers nationwide.

Moreover, we are very proud that the initiative was recognised as one of the representative programmes to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Vietnam in 2022. Accordingly, the initiative not only has positive social benefits, but also serves as a diplomatic bridge.

In 2022, Suntory PepsiCo signed a cooperation agreement with the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) to elevate the programme to the national scale. What is your expectation of the new model?

Understanding that knowledge and skills about conserving the environment and water resources should be widely shared, especially with school-age children, Suntory PepsiCo Vietnam marked a new milestone for the scheme in Vietnam when it officially signed a comprehensive cooperation agreement with the MoET in December 2022.

According to this cooperation with the MoET and the Central Council of Ho Chi Minh Young Pioneer Organization (HYPO), starting from 2023, the initiative will gradually broaden its scope nationwide.

Suntory Group deepens sustainable footprint in Vietnam
Masaaki Fujiwara took pictures with students during the opening ceremony of the programme

It will focus on implementing useful experiential activities, contribute to spreading awareness, and encourage responsible actions in saving and protecting clean water resources for future generations.

With a new development orientation in the period of 2023-2025, the MoET serving as the co-chair, the Central Council of HYPO and other partners serving as co-organisers, we expect the “Mizuiku - I love clean water” programme will become a typical model for comprehensive cooperation agreement and benefit the Vietnamese social community and young generation in numerous ways.

The initiative will gradually broaden its scope through the approval of the relevant materials and making them official materials in the extracurricular curriculum of all primary schools countrywide; offer training courses for more than 5,000 teachers at 300 schools, organising 6,000 classes for about 210,000 pupils in grades 3 and 4 in Lang Son, Hanoi, Danang, Dak Nong, Ho Chi Minh City and Vinh Long; and support 20 clean water projects to enhance school sanitation quality.

Within the framework of cooperation with the Central Council of HYPO, the programme will also pay special attention to developing experiential educational content for pupils with a cooperation agreement with the Forest Protection Department under The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development already signed.

This agreement will see extracurricular activities to experience forests and build environmental information corners in national parks, contributing to spreading awareness of forest resources conservation and clean water preservation for Vietnamese children.

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By Ha Thuy

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