04.11.2016 · Category: Policy Support Components, Regional Policy Support Component

Advancing Sustainable Consumption and Production through Sustainable Value Chains in ASEAN +3 Countries

The 9th ASEAN+3 Leadership Programme on Sustainable Development Goal 12 – “Ensure Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Patterns”

The ASEAN+3 Leadership Programme, now in its ninth year, has become an important regional platform, for the development and implementation of SCP policies. It builds knowledge and skills of policymakers in ASEAN countries to trigger change in national systems of governance which influence how we consume and produce in the region. It also exposes policy makers to practical learning cases that demonstrate a shift from a business-as-usual scenario to one that can potentially influence, change behaviour and systems, as well as policy making practices. 

This year’s edition was held in Hanoi, Vietnam from October 25th to 28th with the theme of advancing sustainable consumption and production through sustainable value chains in ASEAN +3 countries. It was hosted by the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the ASEAN Secretariat, and the Vietnam Environment Administration as part of Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. The priority of the 2016 Leadership Programme was the promotion of appropriate policies measures, strategies and actions for SCP through sustainable value chains across ASEAN +3 countries. 

To strengthen the focus on applied learning from existing SCP policy successes, the Leadership Programme included Vietnamese case study examples of SCP application through EU-funded SWITCH-Asia and other projects.

Figure 1. Mr. Nguyen Hong Long, Founder, Director and Senior Expert in Green Production and Sustainable Product Innovation at CCS

The UNEP Eco-innovation Project was the first to be featured during the event. Mr. Nguyen Hong Long, Director and Senior Expert in Green Production and Sustainable Product Innovation at the Centre for Creativity and Sustainability (CCS) presented the project which leveraged the innovative power of sustainability to enable industry to improve the environmental and social quality of products made in Vietnam through technical assistance and capacity development for SMEs on business strategy and model based on sustainability.

Figure 2. Ms. Thao Hoa, Business Analyst in Project Development at CCS

The Centre for Creativity and Sustainability is an NGO created after the completion of another successful SWITCH-Asia projectSustainable Product Innovation (SPIN). CCS was founded by Mr. Long to assist local SMEs in Vietnam with enhancing their competitiveness in a number of sectors through creative and socially responsible solutions while maintaining minimum negative environmental impact. A few years later, CCS has provided a number of impactful services to many enterprises in the field pf SCP.

In his presentation, Mr. Long noted that to remain competitive in the market, companies need to continuously innovate, and that the most important factor in eco-innovation is developing sustainable business strategies that will guide the business model to sustain the company’s growth as well as its environmental and social responsibility. 

Figure 3. These shoes made of jute were a big inspiration for CCS's creative initiatives on bamboo goods with high value added" - Ms. Thao Hoa

Mr. Long’s presentation was followed by a talk by Ms. Dinh Thao Hoa, Business Analyst in Project Development at CCS who explained how eco-innovation can bring high value added to locally produced goods. She gave the example of bamboo goods which can serve as an inspiration for new and innovative ideas such as the creation of garment and furniture. 

Mr. Le Xuan Thinh, Deputy Director of the Vietnam National Cleaner Production Centre (VNCPC) and Project Lead of the SWITCH-Asia project “Establish a sustainable Pangasius supply chain in Vietnam (SUPA)” also attended the 9th ASEAN +3 Leadership Programme to share  SUPA’s trials and lessons learnt. 

Figure 4. Mr. Le Xuan Thinh, Deputy Director of the Vietnam National Cleaner Production Centre (VNCPC) and Project Lead of the SWITCH-Asia SUPA project

As  the main producer and exporter of pangasius in the world; Vietnam is supplying over 90% of globally consumed pangasius, representing a total annual value of 2 million USD. Considering the rising concerns over the environmental and social impacts of pangasius farms and processing facilities, the VNCPC partnered with SWITCH-Asia to improve the pangasius supply chain and increase its value in international trade. 

One of the lessons learnt through the SUPA project was that policy changes are best leveraged through associations which have more influence. He noted that SUPA had opted to work in collaboration with the Vietnam Seafood Association - one of the strongest associations in Vietnam right now, and as such had obtained from the government the revision of Decree No. 36 to control the fast expansion of the industry and maintain its value in the global market. The SUPA project has also led to the production of comprehensive analysis of Vietnam’s current legal framework for aquaculture and its impacts on the pangasius supply chain which stands to benefit other pangasius and seafood producers in the region.

Figure 5. Ms. Pham Thi Thu Hoai, Program Officer for the Project Development Team of the Asian Institute of Technology

Finally the “GetGreen VN - Sustainable Living and Working in Vietnam” project was presented by Ms. Pham Thi Thu Hoai, Program Officer for the Project Development Team of the Asian Institute of Technology who discussed raising consumer awareness in Vietnam.

With the global shortage of raw materials, creating sustainable products is a new dawn for international and Vietnamese manufacturers, recognising the importance of the ecological balance and preservation of natural resources. The Get Green project, which was completed in 2015, aimed to increase the awareness of local consumers in Vietnam, in order to create a demand for sustainable products. 

A set of GetGreen guidebooks with 75 tips was developed to raise consumer awareness and offer sustainable alternatives for various daily activities such as living, working, eating and moving, as well as consumption stages, such as buying, using and disposing. Furthermore, three “Train the Trainers” (ToT) sessions were organised to train 56 applicants from related organisations on sustainable consumption in an effort to disseminate the tips as widely as possible. 

On the occasion of the 9th ASEAN +3 Leadership Programme, Ms. Nguyen Thi Phuong Nhung, Communications Officer at the VNCPC indicated that the guidebook had since been submitted to the Vietnam Environment Administration (VEA) of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Vietnam for uptake in the Ministry and integration into key public institutions such as universities. 

Figure 6. Mr. Nguyen Quoc Tuan, Program Coordinator of Oxfam Private Sector Engagement

The “Sustainable and Equitable Shrimp Production and Value Chain development in Vietnam” project which is still at its inception further attended the 9th ASEAN +3 Leadership Programme to learn from other SWITCH-Asia projects on achieving sustainable value chains. The ultimate goal of this new project is to contribute to sustainable economic prosperity and poverty reduction in Vietnam through improving the social and environmental impacts of shrimp production and processing.

Vietnam shrimp production provides livelihoods for over a million of people and improves income for small scale producers accounting for more than 80% of Vietnam shrimp production. However, just like the production of pangasius, shrimp production carries with it serious environmental and social impacts. Mr. Nguyen Quoc Tuan, Program Coordinator of Oxfam Private Sector Engagement represented the Shrimp Value Chain project during the event. He exchanged with Mr. Long and Ms. Hoa on the application of eco-innovation to the seafood value chain in Vietnam, and exchanged with Mr. Thinh on the applicability of the lessons learnt by the SUPA project to the Shrimp Value Chain project.  

Through the 9th ASEAN +3 Leadership Programme these four projects were brought together to demonstrate the business case for SCP and the help strengthen SCP capacities across various stakeholder groups, including policymakers from ASEAN +3 countries, through exchanges on lessons learnt and steps forward.

Figure 7. Ms. Hoai (Get Green) and Mr. Tuan (Shrimp Value Chain) -both standing- collaborating on an exercise to identify and address the hotspots in the pangasius supply chain through policymaking.

For more information please contact: Aline Saint-Laurent at Aline.Saint-Laurent.Affiliate@unep.org or visit: http://www.switch-asia.eu/events/9th-asean-3-leadership-programme-on-sustainable-development-goal-12-ensuring-sustainable-consumpti/