Voluntary Guidelines on mitigating socio–environmental risks for Vietnamese outward investors

Since 1989 when the first outward investment project was implemented, as of 2015, Vietnamese businesses invested in 1,049 overseas projects with the total registered capital of 20.8 billion USD. The outward investment sector making up the biggest proportions of capital respectively are mining, agriculture-forestry-fisheries, and power generation and distribution.

In addition to positive contributions to the socioeconomic development in Vietnam as well as in the host countries and their communities, outward investment, especially investment in agriculture, is a potentially risky sector. Apart from traditional risks such as weather, natural disasters, markets, agricultural investment potentially implies environmental and social risks due to its considerable need for land and workforce.

The risks become more apparent when most of Vietnam’s overseas agribusiness projects are invested in countries such as Laos and Cambodia where the land registration and management system is incomplete and the labor custom has not been clearly shaped. The cultural, legal and environmental differences between Vietnam and the host countries have led to unexpected disputes, thereby affecting the project implementation, the rights and interests of the local people as well as the image of Vietnamese investors in the region.

Basing on the research results on Vietnam’s investment in agriculture in Laos and Cambodia which was conducted by People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature), the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and Oxfam in Vietnam in 2015 and 2016, Voluntary Guidelines on Mitigating Soico-environmental Risk for Vietnammese outward Investors in the Mekong Subregion were developed.

These guideline is aimed to reduce the environmental and social risks of outward investment activities of Vietnamese enterprises, ensure the harmony of interests between Vietnamese enterprises, the host country authorities and the local people. This has contributed to building a positive and pioneer image and reputation of Vietnamese investors in particular and of Vietnam in general towards responsible investment, especially for environmental and social impacts.

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