Jonas Grunder, deputy head of cooperation at the Swiss Embassy in Vietnam, speaks at the workshop in Hanoi on May 29 (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – A workshop was held in Hanoi on May 29 to help the press learn about sustainable development issues for businesses, calling for their help in raising public awareness of corporate sustainability reports.

The workshop, themed "Media and Sustainability Reporting: Awareness and Reality", was under the project "Corporate Sustainability Management and Reporting for Competitive Business", funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.

Jonas Grunder, deputy head of cooperation at the Swiss Embassy in Vietnam, said: "We believe that this project is highly relevant in Vietnam given the new context of a globally integrated economy. While economic integration advances with free trade agreements strongly benefiting Vietnam, they also result in higher regulation and competition for enterprises, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This requires a better quality of production and compliance with international standards, such as environmental and social standards."

"There is an increasing evidence that those companies who are following corporate sustainability norms as well as measuring and reporting on their sustainability performance, can improve their productivity and create better working conditions. Ultimately, they become more competitive in the domestic and international markets," he added.

Nguyen Cong Minh Bao, from the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Vietnam, said that sustainability agenda is still at an early stage in Vietnam and even more sustainability reporting. Only 47 organizations in Vietnam from corporations, domestic companies and multinational firms operating in various fields are using GRI standards for their sustainability reporting.

He noted that sustainable development has become an important development trend in the world and Vietnam, and businesses have played a growing role in this issue to be part of the global value chain. However, sustainable development consists of many areas, so this is critical for companies to define what is their materiality topics in term of corporate governance, economic, environment and social to measure businesses’ efforts and performance to share to their stakeholders, Bao added.

Some businesses have built and applied sustainability reports in their operations as a tool to carry out measurement and manage changes to become more sustainable. These reports show companies’ positive or negative impacts on the environment, society and economy, so they not only help ensure information transparency but are also a management tool for businesses and a monitoring tool for state agencies.

In Vietnam, conducting sustainability reports is relatively new among local businesses. It has been carried out mainly by multinational or major companies like Bao Viet or Vinamilk.

At the meeting, reporters were provided with an overview of sustainability reports and information about businesses’ attitude, the press’s coverage of corporate sustainability reports and the media’s role in improving public awareness of this issue.-VNA