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Business Ethics

Business Ethics

The decisions of organizations and business are based on morality. Morality, or principles, that govern an operation of organizations and businesses provide the ideas and ideals that we believe to be admirable. According to the global ethics, corporations are perceived as global actors or moral and legal personalities. They should conduct themselves as per the standards expected of any government or person. Organizations need to have a basis and reason for the outcome of their activities on a social or political process. The impact may be positive or negative. Businesses’ officers, managers, or even shareholders should be able to appreciate and understand that their activities should respect values. The latter ones protect the environment and the general welfare of the society. In Vietnam, the craft industry has resulted in an economic growth and environmental pollution in equal measures. Environmental pollution from the industrial activity in Bac Ninh province of Vietnam has escalated to levels. They have attracted the attention of various international organizations (World Bank 2013). These organizations include the World Bank and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The roles played by these organizations are based on different moral frameworks.

Description of the Issue

Vietnam is a country that was devastatingly afflicted by the 1959 – 1975 war (Rosenberg 2014). The Second Indochina War, an alternative name for the war, had the French exit and the U.S. join the war in an attempt to settle wrangles between communist northern Vietnam and the non-communist south. The prolonged war period resulted in adverse environmental and economic setbacks.

Today, there are over 2000 traditional craft villages in the country. They are a source of income and the impetus in a socio-economic development of most localities. The craft industry is also an important cultural feature of the rural areas of Vietnam. Despite the profits accrued from the industry, the environmental pollution has resulted from poor industrial waste of disposal methods. In addition, the pollution has been aggravated by the use of old traditional methods in local households. These methods include a treatment of motorbike spare parts with toxic chemicals such as the black coal powder, manganese, and zinc as additives (World Bank 2013). This is common in Bac Ninh province where the aluminum casting and recycling is a daily industrial activity. Some crafters such as Ms. Huong claim dust and smoke treatment systems suggested by local agencies are costly for the family. Over 1300 cubic meters of waste water is discharged daily into the river of Ngu Huyen Khe. Sulphure dioxide levels in the river are 480 times higher than the permitted levels. Air and underground waters have been polluted resulting in respiratory tract and skin infections, stomach and lung cancers. People living around basins experience shortages of clean water despite treating waste water with alum (World Bank 2013)

Measures put in place by the Vietnamese government and other local agencies to curb the pollution have not been effective. Inspection and punitive measures on households aggravating environmental pollution are not been implemented. A plan to construct a centralized waste water treatment system approved years ago in Phong Khe village has not yet been implemented. The small wastewater treatment systems constructed in Phong Khe village only handles the sixth part of the daily wastewater volume in the village. Moreover, the systems work irregularly due to a poor maintenance. The inability to regularly maintain the wastewater treatment systems is attributed to insufficiency of chemicals, electricity, and capital. Many villagers in Bac Ninh province of Vietnam are still expanding their production scales consequently, compounding a waste treatment problem. The damaging effects of the unchecked industrial activity have affected residents of the trade villages and other neighbouring communities. It impacts so much that it has become a health hazard and led to water crisis in the locality (World Bank 2013)

Global Organization’s Arguments and Their Moral Framework

World Bank

The World Bank is an international financial institution of the United Nations. It provides subsidized loans to developing nations to support capital programs such as the provision of fresh water, and the construction of sewer systems for proper waste disposal. It aims at reducing poverty across the continent and rescue citizens of nations having an ecological, economic, or social crisis. The organization had its representatives in Vietnam tasked with assisting in the control and improvement of a lifestyle of Vietnamese citizens living in wanting conditions.

A World Bank Environment Senior Expert, Dr. Jostein Nygard, was assigned to the East-Asian region. He has carried out several researches and surveys in residential and trade villages of Vietnam. He believes that Vietnam needs the suitable, but flexible measures to control the environmental pollution experienced. The financial aid provided by the Vietnamese government to enable a movement of the production units to non-residential areas is not sufficient. This insufficiency has derailed the relocation program. To facilitate the shifting of production units, Nygard posits that the Vietnamese government needs new policies. They would offer an equal platform of opportunities for households required to remove their units of production. He adds that the environmental control and poverty elevation measures suitable in a different country may not be applicable in Vietnam. Therefore, the government has to exercise a sound moral judgment in accordance with the virtues such as wisdom, fairness, consistency, integrity, courage, and temperance (Dobson 2007)

The World Bank's support in Vietnam advocates for the virtue ethics to be employed in solving an environmental debacle. Nygard suggests that the government’s measures should be virtue based and encourage the achievement of internal and not external goods as per the definition of MacIntyre on virtue (Dobson 2007). The achievement of internal goods and, consequently, excellence, is for the good of the whole participating community rather than for a few competitive individuals. Achieving excellence through exercising character virtues requires a balance or moderation of virtues. Therefore, as the government tries to enforce policies, it should exercise courage and temperance in a balanced way. The World Bank through Nygard recommends the participation of the community in the control of the environmental pollution. Curbing pollution is a shared conception by both the World Bank and the Vietnamese government. The government should sell an idea to the community in its endeavours to preserve the environment in Bac Ninh province.

Hence, the solution to the environmental pollution lies in education programs to make the local community cognizant of (1) the damages of some of their industrial activity and (2) the mutual benefits to the whole community that would be achieved by shifting production to non-residential areas. Nygard agrees that the financial support to the community to sustain the relocation exercise is low. Thus, the government and other local agencies need to increase finances allocated for the venture. The World Bank, he adds, is also ready to support the government in implementing effective, long lasting, and amicable measures against environmental pollution.

International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN)

Mekong Water Dialogues (MWD) report on the environmental state in craft villages of Bac Ning province was coordinated by IUCN (IUCN 2011, p. 1). The report identified that water pollution is rampant in Bac Ning province. The pollution is an outcome of the growing craft industry in the province. Polluted water has caused numerous skin and respiratory diseases to most residents against the principle of utility of the common good. The noodle makers do not follow rules and regulations regarding disposal of waste products. The insufficiency or lack of adherence to rules and regulations is attributed to the local and national authorities’ laxity in implementing the laws. The IUCN employs a utilitarian framework that allows most members of the community to be appeased by the benefits of measures or regulations put in place to contain water pollution.

Laws and regulations prohibiting a poor waste disposal are in place. However, their implementation has been poor in the region. There are insufficient laws enforcing officers while some are being compromised in their line of duty. The noodle makers and other craftsmen in the province have to be forced to adhere to the rules to the latter ones. The tradesmen are reluctant to abide by the rules because they shall increase their expenses to construct the stipulated waste water treatment plants. However, since the outcome of constructing the plants would be a healthy and comfortable environment for all residents of the province, IUCN fully supports the implementation of the regulations. By advocating for these regulations, IUCN achieves the greatest happiness to most people as asserted by Stuart Mill and his fellow philosopher Jeremy Bentham. The interests of IUCN as an environmental organization would be fulfilled by the suggested measure typifying Fredrick Hayek’s version of utilitarianism (Reizaputra 2013).

Based on the utilitarian model framework, IUCN recommends that strict penalties for individuals violating regulations on the wastewater treatment. Thus, local authorities should employ the sufficient environmental law enforcement officers that would be tasked with identifying and appropriately punishing individuals perpetrating water pollution. Punitive measures such as cutting off electricity to polluters are advisable. In addition, IUCN urges the enforcement of the law in a consistent and transparent manner. Officers not enforcing the laws due to casual relationships with the crafters should be disciplined (IUCN 2013, p. 7).

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Additional Moral Framework

A different moral framework common with the two organizations is social justice. The World Bank recommends that the policies created by the Vietnamese government to facilitate the relocation of production units should ensure that all the households are accorded an equal opportunity. Therefore, households with inadequate funds to initiate the shifting should not be forced out of business but supported financially. The government's support will provide an equal platform for poor households to continue with their sole income generating activity. Such practice is an exercise of social justice by the World Bank. IUCN also encourages equality in punishing craftsmen violating the regulations’ governing pollution. This will avoid a scenario where law enforcement officers favour some tradesman allegedly polluting the environment. Tradesman violating the regulations should all be punished accordingly. None should be left out because they happen to be close friends with the officers. The results would be a promotion of social justice.

The solutions to the environmental pollution in Bac Ninh province of Vietnam lies in proper regulations, the construction of waste water treatment, shifting of production units to non-residential areas, and doing a local awareness campaign on the hazards as well as the control of pollution. The local communities need the local, national, and international support in achieving a pollution free environment.