Sustainable Development Generates “Antibodies” against Covid-19 Pandemic for Businesses

8:51:26 AM | 9/13/2021

Overcoming challenges, businesses that have strong and persistent commitments to pursue a sustainable development strategy for years have generated their own “antibodies” against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Huge pressures on capital

Mr. Nguyen Quang Vinh, General Secretary of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), Executive Vice President of the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development (VBCSD), said, after the four outbreaks of Covid-19 pandemic, businesses are getting exhausted and running out of resources because of domestic supply chain disruptions. From the perspective of sustainable development, they are losing a balance of three pillars: Financial capital, social capital and environmental capital.

This shows that the pandemic is exerting the strongest impact on the financial capital and social capital. Cash use-up and staffing crisis are current core problems of businesses. Besides the adverse effect of the pandemic, weak risk management and crisis management is also a big reason, he noted.

Ms. Dorsati Madani, World Bank (WB) Senior Economist in Vietnam, said, according to the WB's report, disease control and vaccination rollout play an important for growth prospects in the 2021-2022 period. Economic growth will also depend on the recovery prospects of Vietnam's main export markets like the United States, the European Union, and China, which are witnessing an economic recovery, helping to drive up strong export growth for Vietnam.

Although the Vietnamese economy will recover in the fourth quarter of 2021 and expand by 4.8% this year, there are still risks that threaten growth, according to the WB’s forecast. She recommended that Vietnam may apply policies to reduce risks to the economy in the medium and long terms: Addressing social consequences of the crisis; watching out for rising debt risks and transferring the risk from the real economy to the financial sector; and being aware of fiscal risks.

Active “adaptive” solutions

Mr. Nguyen Quang Vinh said, “Besides government support, to live with Covid-19 pandemic and overcome it, each business needs to promote its own internal resources, change plans and strategies to achieve the dual goal of preventing the pandemic effectively and ensuring health and safety of employees and customers while maintaining and restoring business operations. They need to give priority to solving problems from both their own business stance and sustainability perspective.”

Businesses that have adopted sustainable development strategies in general and applied the Corporate Sustainability Index (CSI) in particular are more resilient than the average, he added. Therefore, they can recover better than the rest. In other words, applying the sustainable development model has generated "antibodies" for them to live through the pandemic.

Mr. Vinh also shared about VCCI's initiative on the establishment of the "Business Cooperation Council in Response to the Covid-19” to respond to the call of the Party General Secretary and to the Government's direction on the need for organizations and associations to play a greater role in supporting member companies, especially stronger connection and information sharing to help them overcome difficulties together. The council will gather the strength of the business community, connect industry associations and related organizations with VCCI to rejoin the Government in support for businesses to overcome the difficult period of the COVID-19 pandemic to quickly regain recovery and development.

To support the business community to access up-to-date knowledge on crisis management, VCCI and its technical partner - Deloitte Vietnam will launch the second edition of the Handbook for SMEs to Recover and Thrive in the post-COVID-19 in September 2021.

Regarding solutions to overcome the pandemic, Mr. Binu Jacob, General Director of Nestlé Vietnam, Co-Chair of VBCSD-VCCI, recommended the following solutions: Prioritizing full vaccination for all workers and contractors working in essential food and drink factories; empowering businesses to determine how to apply Covid-19 response options to their factories based on the guidelines of the Ministry of Health.

In addition, he emphasized the need for simplifying and unifying regulations regarding Covid-19 pandemic prevention from central to local levels. In particular, businesses also need digitized public administrative procedures, enabling them to submit online documents, especially in the context of social distancing and mobility restrictions.


Creating sustainable, green consumption habits

Mr. Phan Duc Hieu - Member of the National Assembly

Sustainable development works as an extra benefit of the business. The nature of sustainability is economy and efficiency of resources as well as increased resilience to adverse effects of climate change. Therefore, businesses need to create sustainable and green consumption habits, consistent with government policies in countries that levy taxes on products with environmental pollution risks and advocate green production. On the other hand, corporate restructuring is essential to digest governmental policies such as the economic recovery stimulus package and green credit package. They must change their production and business models and methods to gradually balance benefits and costs. Even for new entrants to the market, it is necessary to have a plan and start doing it right away.

Focus on human resource development

Ms. Cao Thi Ngoc Dung, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors, PNJ

PNJ adopts the sustainability strategy based on core values of the corporate culture, the built governance framework and the consistent and persistent compliance of the whole system. Right from the outset of the COVID pandemic, PNJ activated the prevention plan with the principle “distancing but no absence” and continuously informed its employees to understand and follow. PNJ also developed an advanced training program for employees to increase the working intensity and cooperation across the system.

Even in the context of complicated pandemic development, we always care about our employees who do not have their wages slashed while still have an extra 13th-month salary. When we closed our business facilities to prevent the pandemic, PNJ sends its employees to voluntary activities and launched the free supermarket program. This is a social capital that we have accumulated. when we reopen our business, we will have greater resilience.

Digital transformation application

Ms. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hue, Communications and External Affairs Director, AEON

Sustainable development is not only a compass in a stable landscape but also an important guideline for businesses to adapt to and recover from any crisis. To recover from the pandemic, we are accelerating digital transformation. In terms of infrastructure, we apply digital signatures, digital business management systems, cloud order management and customer management system to optimize customer experiences. As for operating methods, we use Aeon mobile applications, multi-channel shopping methods, online payment, automatic payment management, artificial intelligence and machine learning to meet customer needs.


By Huong Ly, Vietnam Business Forum