|Delegates discuss how to adopt and monitor sustainable development practices at an international conference held in HCM City. Photo courtesy of HCM City Open University
Cao Thị Ngoc Dung, president of the HCM City Association for Women Executives & Entrepreneurs, said that environmental pollution was worsening and that by 2030 energy demand would rise 33 per cent while water needs would increase by 41 per cent in Vietnam.
"A mindset of sustainable development is a must. An enterprise should consider people as the centre and basis for development,” she added.
She noted that corporate social responsibility activities of businesses contribute to sustainable development by balancing the economy, society and environment.
Leading academic researchers, scholars and practitioners at the conference, which discussed "sustainable development in the connected age", spoke about how marketing, branding, human resource strategies, and business models could contribute to sustainable development.
Quality customer services at all businesses can make significant contributions to sustainable development, speakers said.
Florian Johannes Beranek, principal expert on social responsibility at the UN's Industrial Development and Organisation and other UN programmes, said that developing countries often viewed consumer rights as a market obstacle and that governments were struggling with the provision of essential services.
Most development projects just aim for awareness-raising, sustainable and green consumption, or some level of cleaner production, he said.
The important goal of domestic market development requires the establishment of a consumer-driven control mechanism, which would help provide direction for all stakeholder groups, Beranek said.
In the retail industry, for example, customer loyalty is fundamental to business sustainability and profitability. Besides attracting new customers, retaining customers is a valuable business strategy since it is effective and less expensive.
UN's Sustainable Development Goals
As for the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there continues to be a serious investment gap. In June 2018, UN General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak reported that while 92 per cent of business executives support the SDGs, only 17 per cent have plans or policies to achieve them, and concrete actions, partnerships and policies are still lacking.
According to Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report 2019, on its current trajectory, Asia and the Pacific will not achieve any of the 17 SDGs by 2030. Hence, more effort is needed to produce actionable and effective work, speakers said.
The conference was held by HCM City Open University in co-operation with the Berlin School of Economics and Law in Germany and other universities and organisations.