Sustainable development remains a key focus for Vietnamese enterprises in the years to come, according to a recent survey conducted by the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI).
According to the ministry, the country’s business sector is to play an important role in whether Vietnam will be able to realise its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the areas of socio-economic development and environmental protection.
There has been a greater awareness in the business community on the importance of attaining sustainable development. Moving toward green and clean production has been identified by many as a strategic objective as Vietnamese enterprises strive to integrate into the global economy.
As the country becomes part of numerous free trade deals, most notable among which are the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), pressure has been mounting on businesses to meet and exceed market demand for environmentally-friendly products, corporate social responsibility and sustainable development.
"Unlike traditional trade deals which typically focus on commercial activities, the CPTPP and the EVFTA place great emphasis on protection of the environment and labour ethics with detailed guidelines and strong mechanisms to ensure they will be respected," said Vu Xuan Hung, deputy head of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (VCCI) legal department.
Economic growth and SDGs are not mutually exclusive as enterprises are free to choose which SDGs to incorporate in their business operations. In addition, experts have pointed out that in many markets there has been a growing awareness among consumers, especially those of younger generations, on how goods and services were produced.
Enterprises that are perceived as sustainable and socially responsible also enjoy a greater degree of trust and loyalty from their customers, shareholders, workers and investors. Their brands are also valued higher and are preferable as partners by domestic and international businesses.
VCCI has started a Corporate Sustainability Index to rank Vietnamese enterprises on economy, society, environment, and stability in development and labour strategies since 2015. The index has just released its fourth edition in May this year.
The SDGs forms the backbone of Vietnam’s socio-economic development plan for 2016-20. It is crucial for Vietnam to integrate its SDGs in its strategy to pursue growth, according to Dao Dinh Tan, deputy chief of the Science, Resources and Environment under the MPI.
The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and German independent foundation Bertelsmann Stiftung in July ranked Vietnam at 54 in a report, which assessed the implementation of 17 SDGs in 162 countries and territories with the country moving up three places compared to last year.