On October 28th, Vietcetera, in collaboration with its sponsors, hosted the Vietnam Innovators Summit - Green Horizon. The event saw the active participation of over 30 young and experienced professionals from local and international businesses.
The summit was designed to celebrate the innovative contributions of the youth as part of the Green Horizon Pitch competition. It offered an opportunity for seasoned professionals to impart their insights, share their forward-looking visions, and discuss corporate objectives concerning sustainable development. Moreover, the event served as a platform for guests to call upon the younger generation to join hands and take action for a better and more sustainable Vietnam.
Crafting a Sustainable Future through Commitment
Keynote: Sustainability and Responsibility: Two Sides of the Same Coin
At the beginning of the event, Dr. Joao Manuel Fialho, Senior Lecturer and Head of Centre for Postgraduate Studies at the British University Vietnam (BUV), provided insights into the current landscape and challenges of sustainable development in Vietnam. He laid out the university’s objectives and future visions, stressing the pivotal role education plays in tackling environmental challenges.
BUV places sustainability and responsibility at the heart of its values. This commitment is evident in their effort to preserve and protect our natural resources and environment and their approach to responsible finance and operational planning.
The Crucial Role of Sustainable Development Strategies in Corporations
Leonardo Garcia, General Manager of Vietnam and Cambodia at The Coca-Cola Company, offered insights into the brand’s sustainable initiatives: “We have very clear goals under sustainability, and most of them are under waste management. First, Coca-Cola aims to collect and recycle the equivalent of 100% of the packaging it sells globally by 2030. In an effort to achieve this, two years ago, we changed the Sprite from a green bottle to a transparent PET bottle for an easier recycling process.”
He added: “We’ve also incorporated the ‘Recycle Me’ prompt on each product to heighten consumer awareness about recycling. Another thing we’re doing to actualize these sustainability goals involves partnering with local players.”
Expanding on this, he shared, “Our support for the Green Horizon Contest Pitch and the Green Horizon event exemplifies our engagement strategy. Through such platforms, we strive to connect with the youth and the next generation of leaders, to understand and to bring their awareness about what Coca-Cola is doing, how we can help them to think more sustainable and the initiatives that Coca-Cola is doing under the sustainability perspective.”
Voices of Tomorrow: Addressing Sustainability and Driving Change
The first panel discussion had a diverse group of speakers, including Võ Ngọc Tuyền (Kelly), who is the Founder & CEO of Dear Our Community; Trần Kiều Anh, the Co-founder and CEO of Dòng Dòng; Nguyễn Lâm Thảo Tâm, an actress and MC known for promoting sustainable living; and An Trương, a host at Vietcetera.
One dominant theme during the session was the impact of sustainability on various aspects of life. For businesses, customer experience and environmental sustainability should be valued over mere profitability. On this note, experts championed the creation and adoption of products and services rooted in nature-based solutions.
Generation Z is poised to be at the forefront of addressing environmental concerns and leading the charge against climate change in the coming years.
As a figure who resonates strongly with Gen Z, actress and MC Nguyễn Lâm Thảo Tâm reflected: “I’ve altered my shopping habits; instead of opting for fast fashion, I’m quite intrigued by thrift shopping. However, I still carefully consider each purchase, not just buying thoughtlessly because 'thrift' items are cheap and abundant.”
Action! Driving Sustained Behavior Changes
The second panel discussion featured four esteemed experts: Quang Trần Đào - Coordinator from Climate Fresk, Hà Ngân Hà - Project Manager at GreenHub, Helly Tống - Founder at The Yên Concept, and Dr. Joao Manuel Fialho as the moderator.
The discussion revolved around the current and future challenges, especially the difficulties businesses encounter in pursuing a sustainable economy. The most significant challenge is the public’s lack of immediate recognition of the urgency of environmental issues. While the youth vocally back eco-initiatives, there remains a gap between their supportive words and immediate, tangible actions.
Dr. Joao shared, “At BUV, both of our undergraduate and postgraduate programs have modules that tackle specifically some of the issues of sustainability. In our MBA course, for instance, students engage with topics ranging from innovation, entrepreneurship, risk management, and sustainable measures. In addition, we also have an ESG program, which is working with the undergraduates. This way, we can help them develop their soft skills and empower them to grow both personally and academically.”
Conscious consumerism is key: Beyond discussing the significance of small daily habit changes, speakers imparted practical tips such as minimizing plastic waste, joining eco-communities, and making thoughtful choices when shopping for food and clothes.
Shaping Tomorrow: Innovations for A Greener Future
In the final discussion session, notable participants included Sơn Nguyễn - Founder & CEO of Dat Bike, Marina Trân-Vũ - Founder & CEO of EQUO, Nguyễn Trung Hiếu - COO at CarbonFarm Technology SAS, and Hảo Trần - CEO of Vietcetera.
The esteemed panelists shared their entrepreneurial journeys in the sustainability sector, shedding light on the inspirations that led them to their business ideas, how they rallied and persuaded investors, and offered several proposals to address current and future climate change issues.
Marina remarked, “If you want to build a sustainable business, you’ve got to really focus on what grabs your audience. First, your product has to be practical and really appeal to the users. Once you’ve got that down, you can start thinking about the right price and the design.”
An Action Worth a Thousand Words
Celebrating Pioneering Endeavors
This year’s Green Horizon summit eagerly awaited the culmination of the Green Horizon Pitch Contest – a platform championing the green innovations of the next generation. With a month-long open registration attracting more than 40 applications, the competition spotlighted three trailblazing teams in the grand finale:
- Winner: HALOPHILIC MARINE AGRICULTURE – They showcased marine hydroponics technology, emphasizing the cultivation of naturally salt-resilient plants such as Salicornia, seaweed, and other native halophytes.
- First Runner-up: ALTERNO – They unveiled a novel energy storage mechanism in Vietnam: sand battery. The battery uses sand or sand-like materials to store energy as heat, primarily for excess wind and solar energy. This way, it can dispense stored energy all year long.
- Audience’s Favorite: AQUAGLEAM – Their pioneering solution leveraged capacitive deionization technology to purify industrial wastewater while also reclaiming crucial metals, notably phosphorus and lithium.
Pledge to Action
To underscore their unwavering, long-term pledge to sustainability, attendees of the event joined together in the “Pledge to Action.” Upon scanning the displayed QR code, participants were led to a page outlining six straightforward steps to adopt over the coming 12 months, each pointing towards a more sustainable way of life.
After that, attendees were allowed to interact with sustainability experts, focusing on four pivotal topics:
- Building Sustainable Brands: Aligning Values and Purposes.
- Eco-friendly Lifestyle Choices: Tips and Tricks for Everyday Living
- Walking the Walk: Making the Business Case for Sustainability
- Running Successful Local Sustainability Initiatives.