Distinguished colleagues, partners and friends.
Distinguished representatives from the business, government, media, and non-for-profit sector,
Everyone who has taken the time to be with us here today,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you today to the Blue Swallows 2019 Forum on Business Initiatives for Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs. We as UNDP are delighted to be a partner on such a timely initiative.
We are all excited about the Blue Swallows award for 2019. Let me take this opportunity to share three brief points on why we need the Blue Swallows Program in Viet Nam and why now.
First, we need to accelerate private sector action to achieve the SDGs
We cannot achieve the ambition of the SDGs by 2030 without the active participation of business.
Previously, we considered it an act of charity, even clever marketing, when businesses delivered CSR activities. But there is a growing awareness among people that businesses have responsibilities toward society and the environment, beyond just voluntary acts of kindness. These responsibilities are recognized in the 2030 Agenda, where member states of the UN call on businesses to help drive social impact through their practices.
So, it’s only when we tap into the innovation, ambition and vision of business leaders in Viet Nam that will we be able to unlock the full potential of the private sector in achieving the SDGs.
Secondly, doing good is good for business
In other words, there is a growing ‘business case’ for driving social change through our enterprise. Vietnamese consumers are demanding for it. A 2015 study by Nielsen found that Vietnamese consumers are the most socially-conscious in South East Asia, with 86% of respondents from Viet Nam willing to pay extra to companies who are committed to positive social and environmental impact.
Forward looking businesses are currently harnessing climate actions as the drivers for sustainable and inclusive growth model. At the end of UN high level Summit in New York last month, the UN Secretary General announced that more than 100 leaders in the private sector committed to accelerate their business model to green economies. A group of the world’s largest asset-owners -- responsible for directing more than $2 trillion – committed moving to carbon-neutral investment portfolios by 2050. 130 banks – one-third of the global banking sector – signed up to align their businesses with the Paris agreement objectives and the Sustainable Development Goals.
These are the forward-looking businesses who are undertaking climate actions by applying green technologies, natural based solutions, and risk management innovations as their new competitive edge.
Today, businesses globally are increasingly recognizing that Diversity and Inclusion is critical to success in 21st century. With a diverse workforce that comes from different backgrounds, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, businesses in Viet Nam can tap into a pool of new talents and innovative ideas to keep up with rapidly changing markets. This can have huge positive impact on staff motivation, attracting new talent, and business expansion by opening up new product and service lines aimed at niche market segments.
At UNDP we are working on a few fronts in Viet Nam. We are working with the government at the policy level, partnering with CIEM in MPI on promoting responsible business practices, and engaging directly with businesses, through fostering the growth of impact startups together with MOST and the Citi Foundation as part of our Youth Co:Lab initiative which is now active in 20 countries across Asia Pacific.
We know that it is crucial for Viet Nam to fully embrace this new way of doing business so that the country is not left behind. We have seen a strong commitment from other governments in ASEAN to build an environment where ‘responsible and sustainable business’ can grow, such as in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Last but not least…
We need to continue promoting sustainable businesses
Through the Inclusive Business Forum and Blue Swallows program we aim to show how with strong leadership from senior management, you can change the entire business to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
All the applications we received are excellent examples of how in sectors like agriculture, tourism, food and beverages and other businesses can find creative ways to promote social and environmental impact while remaining profitable.
UNDP has been working with partners to both build diversity and inclusion in the workforce in Viet Nam as well as help businesses to contribute to climate targets and accelerate the implementation of sustainable development in Viet Nam. For example, In the Inclusive Business Forum a couple of weeks ago we gathered partners and business leaders, to hear how businesses have made important steps in promoting diversity and inclusion and to encouraging others to join. In November, we will host another thematic workshop on Accelerating Agriculture Business toward Low-emission and Climate Resilience Pathway in Viet Nam as part of En Xanh.
As a long-standing partner, we know that it is a major undertaking that can only be achieved by working together. So, we look forward to continuing our partnership with En Xanh and continuing the work with 2 selected businesses that shows great ambition and initiative in driving diversity and inclusion and a business that demonstrates strong commitment to contributing the climate targets.
We look forward to the discussions and hearing how businesses have been driving initiatives towards sustainable development in Viet Nam, how we can encourage other businesses to join in making Viet Nam not just a good country for doing business, but a country where business does good.
Thank You, Xin Cam On