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Businesses urged to become more involved in environmental issues

Update: March, 10/2012 - 09:45

by Phuoc Buu

HCM CITY — The business community may be showing increasing responsibility towards environmental protection, but official agencies have to get it further involved in environmental issues, experts told a forum held in HCM City on Thursday.

They should have policies to involve civil servants and private-sector employees in environmental campaigns, Prof Rolf Dubs, a Swiss economist, said.

Campaigns should be designed to educate these people about environmental problems and their impacts, he said.

Saigontourist Holding Co. was held up as a business that acts responsibly towards the environment. Tran Hung Viet, its general director, explained that incorporating environmental protection in training and work regulations had created a deep influence on employees.

The Majestic Hotel in HCM City, one of its properties, trains room service staff to set air-conditioners at 25 degrees Celsius to save power, replaced 5,000 40W bulbs by 3W compact lights, installed a solar water heater, and made the curtains in its 170 rooms single-layered, he said.

"Employees fully support our strategy since power conservation reduces cost, which means higher salaries for them.

Power saving and environmental protection have been included in curriculums used in the company's tourism high school that trains 4,000 students a year, he said.

Several campaigns came in for criticism for being adopted merely for the sake of appearance.

Dr Le Dang Doanh, a senior economist, said: "Businesses and social organisations should have more effective campaigns for environment since pollution has worsened.

"Environmental laws should be enforced more strictly to make sure that while some businesses contribute others do not destroy the environment.

Legislators needed to narrow the gap between practice and theory when it came to protection, he said.

Dubs said: "I realise that Viet Nam had a law on environment protection in 1993. The country was one of the first to have a ministry designated for natural resources and environment."

But he emphasised that the key task now is to get laws and organisations working properly.

Nguyen The Dong, deputy director of the Viet Nam Environment Administration, said the country's socio-economic strategy for this decade emphasises economic development in tandem with environmental protection and green development.

"Many companies, however, focus only on economic benefit and pollute the environment," he admitted.

"So we need more effective campaigns to ensure businesses protect the environment and develop sustainable manufacturing."

The "Economic growth: managing environmental impacts" forum was held by Viet Nam Holding and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. — VNS

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