The keynote speeches at Vietnam Innovation Summit 2023 offered profound insights into Vietnam’s journey toward a sustainable future. The first keynote, delivered by Dr. Bert Grobben, Founder & CEO at Budding Innovation, delved into the critical theme of “The Green Transformation: Vietnam’s Path to a Sustainable Future”. Dr. Grobben underscored the comprehensive shift governments and corporations must make towards a more sustainable and environmentally friendly society and economy.
Dr. Grobben outlined the innovative product development strategies within P&G, emphasizing the role of consumer data, cultural insights, and supply chain data. He introduced Budding Innovation (BI), a player in health and sustainability since 2015, highlighting their focus on strategic foresight and open innovation. The speaker highlighted Vietnam’s achievements in green transformation, citing the surge in solar power in Ninh Thuan Province, the Bac Lieu Wind Power Plant, and the eco-friendly residential area Eco Park in Hanoi.
Crucially, Dr. Grobben pointed out the unique geographical and socio-economic advantages Vietnam possesses for green transformation, such as diverse renewable energy potential and a youthful, adaptable workforce. He identified areas of competitive advantage, including agricultural sustainability, coastal and marine resource management, and green urban development. The impact on corporate innovation was discussed, emphasizing the need for businesses to align with Vietnam’s green transformation goals and adapt to changing market demands.
“Cities like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi can become models of sustainable urban planning by integrating green spaces, sustainable public transportation, energy-efficient buildings & waste management.”
Moving to risks and opportunities, Dr. Grobben pointed out potential challenges such as policy uncertainty, technological adaptation, and market volatility. However, he also emphasized the leadership opportunity for Vietnam in the region, the potential for new business models, and access to new international markets through embracing green transformation.
The second keynote, delivered by Ms. Dženeta Mulabegović, a Sustainability Specialist at UNDP, focused on “ESG in Vietnam: Current Status and Future Prospects”. She congratulated Innolab Asia on organizing the summit and stressed the vital role of the private sector in achieving Sustainable Development Goals. Ms. Mulabegović outlined the rise of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) awareness globally and in Vietnam, driven by national sustainability commitments and policies.
The speaker provided a nuanced view of the current ESG landscape in Vietnam, noting that while up to 80% of businesses may have made ESG commitments, the actual level of practice is still low. She emphasized the need for a comprehensive program to address challenges such as lack of knowledge, human resources, and government regulation. Ms. Mulabegović highlighted the potential benefits of ESG for people, planet, and profit, including long-term value creation, financial efficiency, competitiveness, and access to capital. She pointed to the trend of moving beyond ‘Net Zero’ to ‘Net Positive,’ where businesses commit to creating a net positive impact. Stakeholder engagement and partnerships with civil society and experts were identified as key elements in advancing ESG practice.
In conclusion, both keynotes provided a comprehensive overview of Vietnam’s strides towards a sustainable future, highlighting achievements, challenges, and the pivotal role of innovation, technology, and ESG in shaping the nation’s path to greener growth. The speakers called for collective efforts, with businesses taking the lead in driving positive change for the people and the planet.