Mobility is at the heart of our daily lives, shaping our journeys to school, work, and social engagements. Yet, this vital aspect of life often goes overlooked despite its profound impact on equity and sustainability. In Vietnam, as in many parts of the world, disparities in access to safe and green mobility persist, posing significant challenges to public and environmental health.

The Green and Equitable Mobility (GEM) Conference in Saigon held last month focused on how private and public sectors can work together to create a better, greener, and safer transport system for a country with 97 million people. Achieving fair and sustainable mobility is not only about comfort but also a basic right – one that supports the growth of lively, green cities and promotes walkable, livable communities for all Vietnamese.

Yen Tran, Vero’s Associate PR Account Director and head of the agency’s Tech & Mobility team, joined the panel discussion to provide insights into the role of communications professionals in pushing for sustainability in the transport sector, providing strategies to build public awareness, and connecting different sectors to drive collaborative efforts towards achieving greener and more inclusive transportation solutions.

Here are some of the key takeaways from Yen Tran’s talk.

Overcome barriers to promote green mobility

Vietnamese consumers are increasingly aware and interested in electric vehicles (EVs) as a green transportation option, according to a whitepaper that Vero conducted in 2023, which showed that 79% of the respondents considered environmental protection as their main purchasing driver for EVs. However, challenges and barriers still hinder the adoption of EVs in Vietnam, such as the lack of charging stations, the lack of understanding of EV technology, and the preference of younger generations for ride-hailing services or renting cars over owning one.

To educate and encourage consumers to choose EVs, brands and corporates can implement some strategies, such as addressing misconceptions, guiding consumers through the entire EV experience, promoting test drive activities, introducing programs like “EVs for rent,” and partnering with like-minded industry leaders.

A successful example of an initiative that integrated innovative technology and sustainable urban planning in Vietnam is the public bike-sharing scheme that was launched in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi a few years ago. The scheme leveraged GPS, Bluetooth, 3G/4G connectivity, mobile payment services, and an app to enable consumers in Vietnam to rent bicycles for a low fee and enjoy the benefits of green mobility, reduced carbon emissions, and a healthier lifestyle.

No to greenwashing, yes to authentic and collaborative endeavors

As companies place more importance on their environmental goals, sustainability has risen to the forefront of the corporate agenda. However, even as these efforts are praiseworthy, we need to be careful not to fall into the trap of greenwashing.

For companies that truly care about sustainability, communication is crucial. They need to steer clear of any hint of greenwashing. This means following strategies from frameworks like setting measurable and realistic goals, incorporating sustainability metrics into business performance evaluations, and conveying scienced-backed data points to convey sustainability messages, as emphasized in Vero’s Greenwatching Playbook. Honesty is essential, whether it is about cutting down greenhouse gas emissions, plastic waste, energy use, or social measures.

Brands and various social sectors can further accelerate progress towards a more sustainable transportation system in Vietnam by collaborating with organizations sharing similar objectives. The best example of this is VinFast and Be Group’s joint effort to popularize electric motorbikes and cars via ride-hailing services, offering commuters firsthand experience with EVs. Additionally, e-commerce firms are also teaming up with e-bike brands for efficient delivery services. These not only build consensus but also mobilize broader support for sustainable transportation policies and investments, driving systemic change on a larger scale.

Vietnam green mobility

Yen Tran (third from left, first row) joined an insightful panel discussion organized by the AIP Foundation, the British Council, and the University of Aberdeen to advance green and equitable mobility solutions in Vietnam. (Photo: AIP Foundation)

Promote sustainability as a lifestyle

Embracing sustainability as a lifestyle choice is fundamental to fostering lasting change. As the saying goes, “Every journey begins with a small step,” and so does the journey toward a more sustainable future. By inspiring individuals to recognize the significance of their everyday actions, we empower them to make conscious choices that positively impact tomorrow. This ethos extends beyond merely adopting green mobility practices; it encompasses embracing a holistic, green, and sustainable lifestyle.

Through media, entertainment, and cultural platforms, we have a unique opportunity to cultivate a narrative where sustainability is not only embraced but celebrated as a trendy and aspirational way of life. Leveraging the influence of celebrities and influencers can further amplify this message, making sustainable choices more accessible and appealing to a wider audience.

Empower Gen Z climate engagement

The younger generation holds significant potential to shape societal norms and behaviors, especially as they become more aware of climate change and how it affects their future. Leveraging this innate social awareness and critical thinking will allow governments, NGOs, and brands to collaborate effectively with Gen Z in implementing sustainable initiatives, fostering a more environmentally conscious society for generations to come.

Private companies and organizations can organize or sponsor competitions for young people to propose climate change solutions and involve them in execution. This hands-on approach inspires them by turning their ideas into reality, giving them a sense of ownership and responsibility. It empowers youth to actively contribute to positive change, nurturing environmentally conscious innovators for the future.