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Viet Nam faces CSR challenges

Update: November, 21/2014 - 08:25
Students play at a traffic safety park funded by the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation, Safe Kids Viet Nam and FedEx Viet Nam. There are still many businesses in Viet Nam that view CSR as only charity or PR and consider it unnecessary.— VNA/VNS Photo The Anh

HCM CITY (VNS) — While some countries, such as Japan and Korea, have implemented corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies in most sectors, other Asian nations including Viet Nam are still facing numerous hurdles.

More than 80 experts from Asia met at a conference held in HCM City on Wednesday to analyse the challenges of implementing CSR in the country.

They discussed the Asian corporate sector's stance towards CSR, as well as the Asian media's role in communicating CSR-related issues to the public.

Paul Linnarz, resident representative for Japan at Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, an independent German political foundation, said: "In the past decades, the concept of CSR has been recognised as a fundamental component for sustainable development among businesses around the globe."

The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) defined CSR as "the way through which a company achieves a balance of economic, environmental and social imperatives, while at the same time addresses the expectations of shareholders and stakeholders."

Key elements within the "Triple Bottom-Line Approach" were identified as non-discrimination, fair wages, accountability, stakeholder engagement, environmental sustainability and the implementation of labour standards.

Against the backdrop of continuous economic growth in Asia, CSR has become an important factor considered by Asian corporations.

However, the adoption of CSR in Asia is not of a homogenous character, but varies highly, depending on the respective national business systems.

Nguyen Quang Vinh, general secretary of the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development, said there were still many businesses in Viet Nam that view CSR as only charity or PR and consider it unnecessary.

Barriers for businesses to implement CSR include financial shortages and a legal framework.

Vinh said that single CSR efforts could not achieve sustainable development of society.

"Conglomerates, NGOs and governments in Asia should jointly set priorities to tackle common challenges across Asia such as climate change, corruption and poverty through CSR activities," he added.

CSR includes environmental protection, contributions to communities, assurance of benefits and safety for customers, responsibility to suppliers, care of company staff, and assurance of benefits for stakeholders and investors.

The conference was co-hosted by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry. — VNS

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